The Way of Belle Coeur:
Sacred Practices for the Feminine Spirit
October 2-7, 2016
Facilitated by Author & Spiritual Director,
Belle Coeur Sisters,
Pamela Jean Sampel, Spiritual Director
The Rev. Anne Fuquay
The Way of Belle Coeur Retreat is for the woman that longs to connect with her creative heart and spirit to express her inner wisdom. Belle Coeur spirituality offers prayers, practices, and sacred art-making to foster an ever-deepening relationship with God’s indwelling presence. Additionally, this retreat provides the invitation to become a Sister or Companion of Belle Coeur.
The Sisterhood of Belle Coeur was founded in 2013 by Sibyl Dana Reynolds. It is a Christ-centered, contemplative community informed by ancient feminine sacred wisdom. The sisterhood shares creative forms of spiritual expression, sacred practices and prayers inspired from Sibyl’s books, Ink and Honey and The Way of Belle Coeur: A Woman’s Vade Mecum.
The invitation and information on this page invite you to discern your calling to make your application to this unique spiritual/creative program. Please read through all the material provided here. When you have discerned your call to attend the retreat please email to receive an application.
What participants say about their Belle Coeur retreat experience…
Belle Coeur Sisters 2014
“As we sat together in circle, shared laughter and tears; as we listened deeply to one another’s stories, celebrated ritual, meditated, prayed and created art together, I knew I had found what I’d been seeking for so long—my spiritual home, my sisterhood, my center.” Mary Montanye, Sister of Belle Coeur, author of Above Treeline
“Belle Coeur is now my life. It is part of the air I breathe and the earth I walk upon. Belle Coeur is in my soul.” Reverend Terri Hubbard, Sister of Belle Coeur
“To experience first hand the unconditional love of sisterhood, to sit with the process of sacred arts (beginning from NO WAY am I a “real artist”) and discovering means of expressing my heart in new ways while discovering a deep personal healing in the process: I can now say that I AM a true Sister of Belle Coeur. It (the Way of Belle Coeur) has to be experienced and this retreat is a mystical way of doing just that.” Katherine Hempel, Sister of Belle Coeur
Belle Couer Sisters 2013
“Becoming a Sister of Belle Coeur has been transformational for me. Art, sacredness and sisterhood have blossomed and now provide a sweet essence that permeates every moment of each day. This community of like minded women enrich my life in ways I am only beginning to explore and understand.” Millie Mellgren, Sister of Belle Coeur
“The Belle Coeur retreat is like water at the well, it fed me spiritually. The friendships that have been made will be lifelong. The Belle Coeur Sisterhood is always with me and in my thoughts. I am changed for the better because of this experience.” Reverend Jill Westbrook, Sister of Belle Coeur
Please carefully read the following detailed description of the retreat before you prayerfully discern your call to apply for participation. The nature of our Christ-centered retreat will be deeply spiritual (drawing from the ancient Christian mystical tradition, the Sacred Feminine, and the natural world). Our time together will be prayerful, reflective, and also creatively inspiring and celebratory in the spirit of sisterhood.
This retreat and spiritual/creative program will be beneficial if you…
- long to be part of a spiritual and creative sisterhood, rooted in an ancient Christian and mystical tradition, as expressed in the books, Ink and Honey and The Way of Belle Coeur: A Woman’s Vade Mecum (our texts for the retreat).
- desire ongoing connection and continued growth (spiritually and creatively) through the sisterly sharing of resources, wisdom, and story.
- seek enrichment for your personal, contemplative, spiritual journey.
- welcome ways to share your passion for God, Creation, and the sacred life-arts with a sisterhood of kindred spirits.
- yearn to explore new forms of prayer and spiritual/creative practices while celebrating Christ’s teachings, the Divine Feminine, and the beauty of Nature.
- hope for the discovery of enrichment through the sacred life-arts; craft, journaling, weaving, gardening, creative prayer and other forms of heart centered expression.
- look forward to learning, sharing, exploring, growing, creating, and witnessing what is possible when women gather and open their hearts, minds, and stories with one another in a spirit of acceptance and co-creation, in shared love of God, and the mysteries of Creation.
Overview and Invitation
The wisdom and stories of the contemporary sisters of Belle Coeur shared in the pages of The Way of Belle Coeur: A Woman’s Vade Mecum invite women today to contemplate the value and meaning of spiritual sisterhood and the sacred life arts. This retreat is a call and invitation to experience ancient Christian spirituality and mysticism, combined with spiritual practices, prayers and contemplative art-making in a safe and nurturing sacred space while in the company of a spiritually centered, intentional community of women.
Through the exploration of the Belle Coeur template’s four pathways: Spirit, Sacrament, Sisterhood, and Service we will also discover four forms of practice including…Devotion, Craft, Study, and Story. Our journey is centered in the teachings of Jesus the Christ, the Beloved, and held within the circle of Wisdom Sophia, the Sacred Feminine.
We will draw wisdom from the archetypal characters and stories of the sisterhood of Belle Coeur to inspire our creative hearts. The Way of Belle Coeur will invite us to look to the past to inform the present, through the stories of the sisters of Belle Coeur and our ancestral history and herstory. Together, we will merge the ancient stories with our individual and collective circumstances of the present day to determine our common and personal spiritual callings, as we co-create a contemporary sisterhood of Belle Coeur.
October 2-7, 2016 (the retreat begins with dinner on Sunday evening and ends following breakfast on Friday), we will experience community in a cozy and homelike setting at Our Lady of the Prairie Retreat Center. The flow for each day is detailed below. This retreat, with a Christian (first century and medieval) focus, will provide the opportunity for an in-depth exploration of ancient sacred practices and contemporary sacred art-making.
The Intention for this retreat is…
- to explore the ancient prayers, practices, Christian spirituality, mysticism, and sacred life-arts to fully appreciate the potential wisdom offered for the feminine journey today.
- to provide the opportunity for the sharing of personal wisdom through the experience of an intentional women’s circle community.
- to co-create and initiate those participants who feel called to be “Sisters” of the contemporary sisterhood of Belle Coeur, and those who are inspired to be contemplative “Companions” of Belle Coeur. Beauty, sacredness, celebration, and prayerful reverence of the Divine Presence and one another will set the tone for our time together.
- to begin to create your Belle Coeur Sacred Wisdom Codex, a personally crafted journal containing your most treasured wisdom. No previous art-making experience is necessary.
- to be on retreat. To be part of a community of women to share, pray, make art, celebrate ritual, and rest. We will renew our creative hearts and spirits as each of us celebrates and practices self-care.
- to establish a form to remain connected within the ongoing spirit of sisterhood following the retreat, via online connection, shared prayer and spiritual practices, and other forms of virtual, and real communication and companionship.
Our Lady of the Prairie Retreat Center, Wheatland, Iowa is a peaceful, comfortable, nurturing contemporary version of Belle Coeur, as depicted in Ink and Honey. Set within the landscape of the prairie, this sacred place is held in the center of the heartland and provides a tranquil and intimate setting for our time together.
The warm and cozy surroundings, beautiful grounds, woods, labyrinth, walking trails and the overall sacredness of the place, provide a contemplative and restorative environment for the spirit. Each participant will enjoy her private room and share a connecting bath with another participant. Delicious meals are also included (gluten free meals are also available), prayerfully prepared by the Sisters of Humility, the guardians of Our Lady of the Prairie.
The retreat center is accessible from the Quad City International Airport in Moline, Illinois.
Our time together will serve as both retreat and spiritual/creative program. We will follow a prayerful and contemplative rhythm throughout each day, beginning with morning prayer and meditation. The content offered during each morning session will be rich and plentiful with periods of free time for personal sharing.
Afternoons will be spacious and open for napping, enjoying the out of doors, labyrinth walks, reading, creating your Sacred Wisdom Codex, journaling, or whatever your soul needs for replenishment. There will be a specific space dedicated for silence in the afternoons to provide a quiet environment for diving deeply into creative thought and exploration.
In the evening we’ll gather to share the day’s experience. We’ll close each day with prayer and meditation. Our final night will offer sacred celebration and the blessing of your new sisterhood.
Periods of community time blended with space for private reflection and contemplation will ensure a balance of dialogue and silence, activity and rest, sharing and solitude. Participants will be invited and encouraged to practice self-care during the retreat.
- A link for a downloadable “Pilgrim’s Information Packet” will be provided in late August
- 5 nights accommodation, a private room with shared bath with one other participant
- All meals beginning with dinner the day of arrival and ending with lunch the day of departure
- Snacks, tea, coffee throughout each day
- Daily inspirational “take-aways
- Daily circle sessions led by 3 Belle Coeur facilitators
- Optional 30 minute, private spiritual direction session with Sibyl, Pamela, or Anne
- Closing sacred celebration and blessing ceremony
- Ongoing private Facebook page for participants to maintain virtual group connection begins in late August and continues indefinitely following the retreat. You will also be invited to join (an optional choice) the larger and ever-growing community of Belle Coeur sisters.
Make Your Application
There are 9 spaces available. The completion of an application form for this retreat is requested to assure that each participant’s spiritual and creative needs will be met by this program. If you feel called to apply please e-mail to receive an application. You will receive your application by e-mail.
Applications will be reviewed and participants will be selected in the order of the application submissions. Register early to ensure your space. You will receive response to your application within two days of submission. When accepted you will be emailed a link to make your registration to secure your space for the retreat.
Participants will be asked to read Ink and Honey prior to the retreat for orientation to ensure familiarity with the story. The Way of Belle Coeur: A Woman’s Vade Mecum will be the required text for the retreat. A downloadable Pilgrim’s Information Packet will be posted online in late August to assist with preparation for our time together.
What to Bring
Each woman will begin to craft her Sacred Wisdom Codex during our time together. The incorporation of personal objects, photographs, and materials will ensure individual meaning for each participant. A list of suggested art-making materials to bring will be included in the Pilgrim’s Packet. Additional materials will be provided.
Get Acquainted with the Facilitators
Sister and Founder, Sibyl Dana Reynolds
Sibyl is the author of Ink and Honey, and The Way of Belle Coeur: A Woman’s Vade Mecum. She is a Spiritual Director, Creative Mentor, and the Founder of the Sisterhood of Belle Coeur, a contemporary, contemplative, spiritual/creative community. Sibyl’s combined passion for women’s stories, Christian mystical wisdom, and the many forms of feminine creative expression inform her prayerful and contemplative facilitation. She brings thirty years of creative/spiritual experience to her work. Her background as a bishop (retired) of the Roman Catholic Church is instrumental to Sibyl’s spirituality and teaching. Her intention as the Founder of the Belle Coeur Sisterhood is to provide inspiration for the hearts and spirits of the women called to experience Belle Coeur spirituality. Contact Sibyl with questions and to receive your application for the retreat.
Sister Pamela Jean Sampel
Pamela is a highly skilled leadership coach, writer, and spiritual director with an irreverent sense of humor who loves to laugh out loud. With over 20+ years of experience in collaborative leadership, emotional intelligence coaching and retreat facilitation experience, clients and friends describe Pamela as a clear and direct communicator with a proven ability to inspire, motivate, write and lead.
Pamela is also a member of the initial circle of Belle Coeur Sisters and assists Founder Dana Reynolds and Sister Mary Ann Matthys in the formation and facilitation of subsequent Belle Coeur circles.
Pamela holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in business and management, a certificate in Spiritual Direction, and is an Oblate of St. Benedict at St. Placid Priory in Lacey, Washington.
The Rev. Anne Fuquay, Sister of Belle Coeur
The Rev. Anne Fuquay is an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church. She is currently appointed in the Florida Conference as the Associate Director in the Office of Clergy Excellence. Her nineteen years of leadership experience includes serving as a pastor within a variety of church settings and as a college chaplain. She also serves as a spiritual formation teacher, retreat facilitator, and pilgrimage guide.
Anne is married to The Rev. David Fuquay and they have an eleven year-old son, Michael. They make their home in Lakeland, Florida with two tuxedo cats: Hadewijch, a seventeen year old lady dowager, and Francesco, an upstart vagabond troubadour. She loves silence, study, the Rosary, northeastern woodlands, and the Isle of Iona.
The all inclusive price for the retreat (see list above) is $1,650. Airfare is not included. If making full payment at time of registration cost is $1,500 ($150 savings). If you choose to use the payment plan, you will be provided an online link to this website’s payment page to make a $400 deposit after your application has been accepted. Final payment is due August 1, 2016. Contact Sibyl to request an application.
In the event you need to cancel for any reason, all monies paid to date of cancellation will be refunded minus $400 non-refundable deposit. No refunds after August 1, 2016. It is advised you purchase trip insurance for reimbursement of your costs in case of illness or other emergency which prevents you from attending.
Plan to arrive and depart from the Quad Cities Airport, Moline, Illinois. You may wish to arrange to share a rental car with other participants. A Facebook page beginning in late August will make it possible for participants to coordinate travel plans if desired. There is also a shuttle service available. Details will be provided in your Pilgrim Packet.
Arrival and Departure
Check-in will begin at 3 p.m. on Sunday, October 2, 2016 at Our Lady of the Prairie Retreat Center. Please plan to arrive in time to settle in before we gather for dinner at 5 p.m. Our closing ceremony will take place on Thursday evening. Friday morning, October 7th, we will share breakfast and farewell blessings with one another. We’ll complete by 10 a.m. You may schedule your departure accordingly. If your travel plans require you to make an early departure on Friday this will not be a problem.
Please email if you have questions while you discern your call to participation for The Way of Belle Coeur.