Autumn Art Retreat

Pilgrims, Pasta, Pumpkins, and Prayer

September 29 and 30, 2023

Start your Fall season with a retreat that has a delightful blend of crafts, cooking, and contemplation. It’s perfect for those who enjoy praying with their hands. With some guidance from expert presenters, you will be invited to open yourself up to the creative powers locked within. The retreat is hands-on and suitable for people of all talent levels. Intermingled between the sessions will be reflections on harvest time, gratitude, and changing seasons. The pottery creations will be kiln-fired and in your hands before All Hallow’s Eve (Halloween).


Debra and Dale have a gift for guiding novices and experts alike toward making beautiful and treasured keepsakes. This workshop promises to be one of their best. You’ll have a choice between making your own pilgrim or garden gnome.


Gilda has a passion for pasta and a passion for people. Her expertise is deep, from growing up in an Italian family to owning her own Italian restaurant. She’ll give you a few pointers on how to make pasta and guide you in making some delicious pasta dishes.


Abi has fully immersed herself in a love she’s had since childhood – making beautiful art. She’ll guide you through the steps toward making a unique pumpkin that you’ll be proud to display around the house during the Fall season. If you want a sense of her joy and passion, watch her on Fox’s “Access Carolina”


To make your retreat experience complete, Deacon Scott will intermingle moments of prayer and reflection on the themes throughout the retreat, to ponder as your hands make a new, Autumn creation.

Retreat Schedule

Friday, September 29
5:00 PMEvening Prayer, Deacon Gilfillan
5:30 PM Director’s Reception
6:30 PM Dinner
7:00 PMArt Session 1: Create your own pilgrim (or gnome) – Debra & Dale Zimmerman
9:00 PMNight Prayer, Deacon Gilfillan
Saturday, September 30
7:00 AMMorning Prayer, Hour of Adoration; Deacon Gilfillan
8:00 AMBreakfast
9:00 AMArt Session 2: Learn how to make your own pasta dish
12:00 PMLunch – with freshly prepared pasta
1:00 PMArt Session 3: Shape your own ceramic pumpkin
3:30 PMBlessing and Dismissal

About the Session Presenters

Debra and Dale Zimmerman

Shortly after moving to the area in 2012, Debra and her husband Dale began their journey into this age-old craft and haven’t looked back. Their art is displayed throughout the Hickory area and at regional pottery and craft shows and Debra teaches classes in their home studio and at local community colleges. She operates Groovy Girl Art Studio which specializes in mosaics, stained glass, pottery, and crafts. She and her husband have been highly praised as presenters for past retreats at the Catholic Conference Center.

Abi Colton

Abigail Cruz Colton, owner of Pårådisu Pottery, discovered her love for ceramics at the age of 16. That love for the art form remained with her for years and ultimately inspired her to follow her passion and jump head-first into becoming a full-time ceramic artist. She opened her doors for business in January of 2023 and hasn’t looked back since. She draws most of her inspiration from the unmatched beauty found among the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains as well as the fond memories she holds from her childhood spent on Guam. You can find her works displayed at the Wild Hare Gallery in Travelers Rest, SC, where she also teaches monthly classes. 

Gilda Caputo

A long time ago, in her grandmother’s kitchen, Gilda’s grandmother, Daisy, told her that if she was going to make the meatballs, she had to do it with love.  That stuck with Gilda her entire life.  Even now, as Executive Chef of the Catholic Conference Center, she leads the kitchen staff in creating wonderful meals for the guests with the same understanding: Love is always the most important and necessary ingredient in everything we serve.  It’s no different when she makes pasta  –  gnocchi, gnudies, ravies -they are all made with love.

Deacon Scott Gilfillan

Deacon Scott D. Gilfillan was ordained in 2001. He has a wide range of experience in pastoral care, prison ministry, and leading retreats. He shares some of his reflections on his blog, My Morning Reflections.  He has met all of the certification requirements as a spiritual director through Divine Mercy University, an institution of higher learning specializing in educating Catholic psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, and spiritual directors. He is the director of the Catholic Conference Center.


Event has sold out. Thank you for your interest.

This will be a highly focused retreat and limited to 25 people to make sure all get the individual attention they need to fully unleash their creativity. Register now before it sells out.

The price is $175 per person (shared room); $215 per person (private room).  This includes overnight lodging, three full-course meals prepared by our own chef, all materials, and fees for our expert presenters… plus access to our beautiful facilities, trails, and meditation areas. 

Extend your retreat by staying an extra night at a discounted rate of $75.

Please follow the link to our registration form. Should you decide to cancel, a full refund will be given if we receive at least two week’s notice. Within two weeks, no refunds will be granted.

For more information, call 828.327.7441 or email