Something about the sea opens hearts to the voice of God.
Welcome to St. Edmund’s Retreat, a haven of spiritual renewal and Catholic prayer on Enders Island, in Mystic, Connecticut.
Enders Island is in Fisher’s Island Sound, at the mouth of the Mystic River. The eleven-acre island has been variously known as Barker’s Island, Dodge’s Island, and Keeland’s Island. Although other islands in the vicinity were recorded and named from earliest times, the island now known as Enders Island was not mentioned in a survey made as late as 1847. Other surveys seem to show that Enders Island was once part of adjoining Mason’s Island.
Born in Hartford, CT, Dr. Thomas B. Enders was the son of the president of Aetna Insurance Company. He attended Yale University and received his medical degree in 1892 from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. After a lengthy medical career, he purchased a then-uninhabited island from the Sisters of Charity and began to develop it as a private estate. His wife, Alys VanGilder Enders was responsible for much of the tile work in the main house, the grand and stately arts and crafts style home that serves as one of the central buildings on the island.
Not long before her death in 1954, Alys decided to give Enders Island to the Church. She contacted Bishop Bernard J. Flanagan of the newly created Norwich Diocese. He then connected her with the Society of St. Edmund, an order of priests and brothers who foster spiritual renewal, evangelization, and social justice.
In November, 1954, the Edmundites began using the Island as their novitiate. The need for a novitiate waned in the 1970s, so the Edmundites began to hold retreats for those in recovery, and for other priests and religious.
Eventually, this ministry developed into St. Edmund’s Retreat. Programs expanded to include directed, guided and private retreats for lay, religious, and clerical individuals and groups. In 2003, the Retreat became an independent ministry, though still greatly influenced by the spirituality, traditions and charism of the Edmundites.
Today, our facilities include the early 20th-century mansion, several meeting rooms, overnight accommodations, and an exquisite new chapel so reverent and magnificent that it has been called “a pilgrimage in its own right.” The Blessed Sacrament is reserved for veneration any time, day or night, both in this chapel and in the intimate Fisherman’s Chapel in the main house.
Connected by bridge to the mainland, Enders Island and St. Edmund’s Retreat is one of the few places in New England where you can awake to the sounds of seabirds calling, waves lapping and a Mass bell pealing.