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Transforming Community®

For those who are longing to forge a stronger connection between their soul and their leadership

Attend a single retreat. Learn more.


In the frenzy of building families, ministries, and businesses, how do we cultivate intimacy with God?

What if there was a way to discern the still small voice of God in the deafening noise of our culture? What if this was the place from which our leadership could emerge…

  • in our churches?
  • in our work?
  • in our service?

The Transforming Center exists to guide pastors, leaders, and influencers, in establishing sacred rhythms to sustain their life in leadership.

A Transforming Community® is a retreat-based spiritual formation experience with nine quarterly retreats.

For over 15 years we have welcomed groups of men and women who long to experience God in the depths of their souls. Each retreat in this two-year experience includes substantive teaching on spiritual formation themes and practices, guided experiences with spiritual disciplines, and significant engagement in community with influencers from diverse backgrounds and theological traditions.

The content of each retreat is grounded in Scripture and in the richness and diversity of our Christian heritage. Reclaim practices and experiences that spiritual seekers down through the ages have used to open themselves to God’s transforming work.

  • Create space for God

    Each technology-free retreat includes extended silence and solitude so you can rest and pay attention to what’s going on in your own soul so you can lead from that place.

  • Make time to listen and respond

    People change incrementally....over time...with the context of spiritual disciplines that open us to God. Each retreat invites you to engage a spiritual discipline, giving you time over the quarter to practice what you learned and integrate it into your own life.

  • All in a beautiful setting

    Retreats are held at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Chicagoland located with access to major airports.

Application deadline is October 1, 2020

Transforming Community 17 begins November 1-3, 2020.

Retreat Topics

Retreat 1

Invitation to Transforming Community

"If you don't come apart for awhile, you will come apart after awhile."
—Dallas Willard

Retreat 2

A Leader's Journey into Solitude and Silence

"Without solitude it is virtually impossible to have a spiritual life."
—Henri Nouwen

Retreat 3

Prayer: Deepening Our Intimacy with God

"The spiritual life has to do with how God relates to us and how we relate to God. Prayer is the essential expression of that relationship."
—Marjorie Thompson

Retreat 4

Engaging the Scriptures for Spiritual Transformation

"In informational reading we seek to grasp the control, to master the text. In transformational reading, the intent is to allow the text to master you."
—Robert Mulholland

Retreat 5

Flesh and Blood Spirituality: Honoring the Body as a Spiritual Discipline

"We are not human beings trying to become spiritual; we are spiritual beings trying to become human."
—Teilhard de Chardin

Retreat 6

Transformation through Self-Knowledge, Self-Examination, and Confession

"[One] never attains to true self-knowledge until he has previously contemplated the face of God, and come down after such contemplation to look into himself."
—John Calvin

Retreat 7

The Art and Practice of Spiritual Discernment

"Finding God in all things in order that we might love and serve God in all."
—St. Ignatius of Loyola

Retreat 8

For the Sake of Others: Where Formation and Mission Meet

"Mission cannot be discerned without formation, nor can mission be sustained without an ongoing commitment to transformation in Christ's presence."
—Ruth Haley Barton

Retreat 9

A Rule of Life: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation

"Ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat. Ask me what I am living for and what is keeping me from living fully for that."
—Thomas Merton


The Transforming Community experience is a generous investment in your relationship with God. Over the course of this two years you will receive guidance for cultivating a deeper connection with God and the support to establish a way of life that can sustain it.

Program cost for tuition, room, and board


26 monthly installments

Does not include application and registration fees or travel costs.

One-time fees
  • $50 application fee
  • $250–$325 registration fee*
    Pay registration fee by July 29 and secure your spot at $250.

    (The $250 fee increases to $300 after July 31, and $325 after September 1)

    *This non-refundable fee is due upon acceptance to secure your spot in the Community

Sample Schedule

4:00 P.M.Arrival and Check-in

5:45 P.M. Dinner

7:00 P.M. Gathering Prayer

7:30 P.M. Session


9:00 P.M.Night Prayer/Great Silence

6:30-8:15 A.M. Breakfast on Your Own

8:30 A.M. Morning Prayer/Break Silence

9:00 A.M. Session 2


11:00 A.M. Session 3

12:00 P.M. Mid-day Prayer

12:30pm: Silent Lunch

1:00pm: Solitude, Rest and Reflection

5:15pm: Evening Prayer

6:00pm: Dinner

6:30 P.M. Small Groups


9:00 P.M. Night Prayer and Worship

9:30 P.M. Celebration Reception

6:30-8:15 A.M. Breakfast on Your Own

8:30am Morning Prayer

9:00am: Session 4


11:00am: Session 5

12:00pm: Leaving Service

1:00pm: Departure

Travel Information & Directions

University of St. Mary of the Lake

1000 E Maple Ave, Mundelein, IL 60060

Mundelein is approximately 40 miles northwest of downtown Chicago.

Visitor Information for USML

American Taxi offers flat rates to/from the airport if you book in advance. If you are looking for a transportation service outside of Uber, Lyft or car rental, West Suburban Limousine has consistently positive review and offers scheduled rides to anywhere in Chicagoland.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to the most commonly asked questions we receive about the Transforming Community®experience. If you can’t find your answer here, please contact Dina Coffey at or call (630) 588-8133 x302.

Retreat Experience

Retreatants stay at University of St. Mary of the Lake's guest rooms, offering attendees a place for rest and solitude. This beautiful campus will provide an excellent environment for your retreat experience and is conducive to rest and reflection.

All meals are provided  (dinner the first night through breakfast the last morning).

Teaching & Practice

Ruth is the primary teacher and retreat leader for the Transforming Community experience along with others from the Transforming Center team. She is joined by the Transforming Center worship leader and supported by a serving team who’ve completed the Transforming Community at least once.

Retreats are scheduled quarterly to provide adequate opportunity to engage both the content of the retreats and the spiritual practices that increasingly open us to God over time. Guidance and resources are given for the months between retreats. At the end of a two-year community experience members develop a “rule of life” that will sustain them in all aspects of their lives.

Earn academic credit through our partnership with Sioux Falls Seminary.

For those interested earning academic credit in concert with their Transforming Community experience, we are pleased to inform you that the Transforming Center has formed a partnership with Sioux Falls Seminary, located in Sioux Falls, SD. Through the Kairos Project, an alternative educational track, participants in a Transforming Community® can fully integrate their transforming leadership journey with one of several academic options, including a graduate certificate, Master of Arts (Bible and Theology), Master of Arts in Christian Leadership, Master of Divinity, or Doctor of Ministry. Each option provides students with an opportunity to focus their studies in spiritual transformation while providing them a mentor team to customize the entire educational journey.

Affordable, accessible and relevant

These certificates and degrees are comparatively affordable, accessible from anywhere (some degrees require intensives on campus), relevant to the context of the student, and faithful to God’s call to an ongoing process of transformation. This structure allows students to pursue their degree or certificate while staying fully active in ministry, invested in their day-to-day lives, and committed to a life of missional engagement.

All accepted Transforming Community applicants must also apply to Sioux Falls Seminary. There is no set deadline for applications, as Transforming Community applicants may apply prior to the launch of their communities, at any time during their communities, or even after the completion of their communities.

For more information about this opportunity through the Transforming Center please contact David Hughes at

To learn more about the Sioux Falls Seminary and these offerings, visit, email Nate Helling at, or call 800.440.6227. If you wish to apply, go to


Each community is a diverse group of men and women who are seeking to learn how  to be in God for the world.  For 15 years, these communities have discovered unity within diversity in profound ways because of their willingness to journey together intentionally.

We embrace a liturgical style of worship that is highly participatory, giving everyone a chance to read and respond to Scriptures, pray and be formed by the prayers of the church, listen to God in the silent spaces, and join their voices with others in song.

Application Process

After submitting your application, you will receive an email at your email address confirming your application has been received and providing a copy of your application for your files.

Once your application has been received, you should hear from us within two weeks time. If at any point you have questions regarding the two-year Transforming Community, please don’t hesitate to email Dina Coffey at or call (630) 588-8133 x302”

We reserve the right to accept, decline, or delay admission based on our attempts to achieve a balance of vocation, gender, race, and Christian faith tradition. The Transforming Center also reserves the right to assess each applicant’s readiness for the Transforming Community experience and to decline admission based on our assessment.

Upon acceptance into the Transforming Community, you will receive an invitation email which will include payment information for the non-refundable registration fee. The registration fee secures your place in the community.


Leaders often face two hurdles (time and money). The Transforming Center is committed to helping eliminate the financial obstacle for qualified candidates through fundraising resources.

Signing up for nine retreats over 2 years is a significant commitment and that is intentional. Transforming Community is for those who know that their deepest desires will not be met by reading another book, attending another conference or listening to another podcast. Transformation does not happen overnight. People change incrementally….over time…with others…in the context of spiritual disciplines that open us to God. Quarterly retreats provide a regular respite that we might not otherwise take and they create the space needed to integrate these disciplines into your life in a meaningful way.

In addition to a commitment of time, Transforming Community is also a financial investment. Because of the comprehensive nature of this program and the fact that it spans two years, there is a significant cost associated with a Transforming Community experience. The fees include everything you need while on retreat: a private room and bath, five hot meals, healthy and plentiful refreshments throughout the retreat, all retreat materials, plus a beautiful reception each Monday night. That is in addition to the six teaching sessions, eight worship services, spiritual guidance for your solitude times, and group spiritual direction.

Life Happens

While attending and participating in each of the nine retreats is what we hope each participant will be able to experience, there may be a situation that is unavoidable. In the event you are unable to make one of the retreats that you have committed to, we do have a process for making it up that takes into account both the content and retreat experience.

Sometimes it can be helpful to talk through these kinds of questions or concerns with someone. If you find yourself wrestling with a desire to join this community but have hesitations about making the commitment, please reach out to Dina Coffey at or call 630 588-8133 ext 311 – she would be happy to talk with you.

We understand that one of the reasons a two-year commitment can be overwhelming is that it’s impossible to plan and predict how our lives will unfold during that time. In each of our communities there have been those who have experienced unexpected significant life change both personally and professionally (ie: change of jobs, death of a family member, birth of a child, a move). If you are feeling drawn to join this Transforming Community our hope is that you would trust yourself to God and to the community for this two-year journey and whatever it may bring. Even in the midst of life’s changes our commitment is to discern God’s will together with you.

Retreat Dates (TC17)

  • November 1–3, 2020
  • February 14–16, 2021
  • April 25–27, 2021
  • July 11–13, 2021
  • November 14–16, 2021
  • January 23–25, 2022
  • April 3–5, 2022
  • July 10–12, 2022
  • November 13-15, 2022

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