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Transforming Community®

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

Watch to experience a taste of the Transforming Community

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Establish sacred rhythms to sustain your life in leadership. Join the next Transforming Community.

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

For over 20 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.

Our 2024 community (TC20) has a waitlist.

Our next community begins in 2026.

Coming in 2025 a new offering for leaders. Learn more.

When should I make a retreat? When there is no time to do it, that’s when you most need to unclutter the calendar and go apart to pray. When the gridlock of your schedule relentlessly forbids it is the time you most need a retreat. That is when your heart beats against the prison walls of your enslavement and says, ‘Yes, Lord, I want to spend time with you.”

Emilie Griffin, Wilderness Time

Do something before you do everything.

Retreat Topics

Retreat 1

Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: 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 Practice

"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-Examination, Self-Knowledge, 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


27 monthly installments

Does not include application, registration fees or travel costs.

One-time fees
  • $100 application fee
  • $350 registration fee*

    *When you apply after February 16th. This non-refundable fee is due upon acceptance to secure your spot in the community.

Our next Transforming Community (TC21) begins in 2026.

Fundraising resources in addition to limited scholarships and sponsorships are available for the Transforming Community experience.

Retreat Leaders

Because we have several communities going at once, we rotate our retreat leadership.  Your retreat team will be some combination of the following leaders.

Additional Contributors

  • David M. Bailey

    David Bailey

  • David Hughes

    David Hughes

  • Robert Mulholland

    Dr. Robert M. Mulholland (deceased)

    Dr. Mulholland continues to be one of our teachers on retreat through his written and video content.

  • Rev. Dr. Phaedra Blocker

  • Bob Watson, PsyD

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 6006

Mundelein is approximately 40 miles northwest of downtown Chicago and 30 miles from O'Hare International airport (closest airport to USML).

To reserve a room for an additional night(s) beyond the retreat please call the USML front desk at (847) 970-4908.

Visitor Information for USML

There is no need to rent a car because we will remain on campus  for the duration of the retreat.  Most find it helpful to get an Uber or Lyft as their transportation.  If you would prefer, West Suburban Limousine has consistently positive review and offers scheduled rides to anywhere in Chicagoland.  American Taxi offers flat rates to/from the airport if you book in advance.

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 Haley Page at or call (630) 588-8133 x311.

Retreat Experience

Retreatants stay in guest rooms at the University of St. Mary of the Lake. Each room is equipped with its own bathroom offering attendees a private place for rest and solitude. This beautiful campus will provide an excellent environment for your retreat experience and is conducive to reflection and refreshment.

If you would like to extend your retreat by arriving the night before the retreat begins or departing the morning after it ends, please call the USML Front Desk at (847) 970-4908 to reserve your room.

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.

Certificate in Spiritual Transformation

Participants in the Transforming Community® experience have the opportunity to earn a Certificate in Spiritual Transformation. The certificate identifies the completion of a learning process that guides leaders in an experience of spiritual transformation in the context of a Transforming Community. Learn more about the Certificate of Spiritual Transformation.

Continuing Education Units

Transforming Community participants also have the opportunity to receive continuing education units. 90 CEU's are available for the completed 27-month process. Learn more.

Earn academic credit through our partnerships

For those interested in earning academic credit in concert with their Transforming Community experience, we are pleased to inform you that the Transforming Center has formed partnerships with Kairos University and Richmont Graduate University. Learn more about earning academic credit with our partners.


Each community is a diverse group of men and women who are seeking to learn how  to be in God for the world.  For almost 20 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, it will be placed in a pool of applications for review. 

  • Applications received by June 30, 2022 will hear back about the status of their application by late July 2022.
  • Applications received by Aug 31, 2022 will hear back by late Sept 2022.
  • Applications received by Dec 31, 2022 will hear back by mid January 2023.
  • Applications received by March 31, 2023 will hear back by mid April 2023.
  • Rolling admissions begin April 1, 2023.

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

If you do not pay your registration fee by the deadline given to you in your acceptance email, you forfeit your spot at that time. Accepted applicants who miss their registration deadline will be placed back into the applicant pool to be considered in the next round. As the community is forming, we are committed to cultivating a rich and diverse community for those in leadership positions. Therefore we cannot guarantee acceptance into the community past the date that was given to you.

If at any point you have questions regarding the two-year Transforming Community, please don’t hesitate to email Haley Page at or call (630) 588-8133 x311.

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 that 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 limited scholarships and sponsorships.

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.

We understand that unexpected circumstances happen in life.  If you need to step away from the Community anytime after the 2nd retreat, you will be responsible for paying a one-time early withdrawal fee of $500 plus 20% of your remaining invoice balance.  On rare occasions, dependent on the circumstances surrounding your early withdrawal, we may choose to waive the early withdrawal fee.  If your remaining invoice balance is zero or you receive a scholarship or the like, you may still be responsible for the one-time early withdrawal fee of $500.

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.  If you know that you will not be able to attend two or more of the retreats, we suggest you choose a Community that works better for your schedule. 

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 Tina Harris at or call 630 588-8133 ext 307 – 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.

Do something before you do everything.

Not ready for a Transforming Community? Check in with the soul of your leadership with our FREE resource. Over the course of a month, you will receive a new guided reflection each Saturday morning. Written by Ruth, each reflection will help you examine an aspect of your spiritual leadership and includes guided instruction on how to have an honest conversation with God about your spiritual leadership. Each reflection also includes a link to an audio conversation between Ruth and another leader about the content.

Experience Ruth Haley Barton as a spiritual director and get a very small taste of a Transforming Community retreat.

Apply for a Transforming Community

Application deadline is March 21, 2024
Transforming Community (TC20) retreat dates:.
  • April 21-23, 2024
  • August 11-13, 2024
  • November 17-19, 2024
  • February 16-18, 2025
  • May 18-20, 2025
  • August 10-12, 2025
  • December 7-9, 2025
  • February 15-17, 2026
  • May 17-19, 2026
Application Deadlines (TC20)
  • Applications received by October 15, 2023, will hear back about the status of their application by mid-November 2023— Registration Fee $250
  • Applications received by December 31, 2023, will hear back about the status of their application by late January 2024 — Registration Fee $300
  • Applications received by February 15, 2024, will hear back about the status of their application early March 2024 — Registration Fee $325
  • Rolling admissions begin February 16, 2024 — Registration Fee $350
  • Application deadline is March 21, 2024

We currently have a waitlist for Transforming Community 20.

Please contact Haley Page to inquire about availability.

Our next Transforming Community (TC21) will launch in 2026. We invite you to learn more about a new offering for leaders.