– Prayer Bowls and Pysanky –
A Sacred Art Retreat

One night, January 12-13, 2024

Back by popular demand is our “Art as Spiritual Therapy” retreat. Spend a day away destressing from the holidays, renewing your own creative spirit, and praying for the people in your life. These sessions will be hands-on. With some guidance from expert presenters, you will be invited to open yourself up to the creative powers locked within. In the process, you’ll leave with a new awareness of God’s presence guiding you and acting in your life.

1st Session: Prayer Bowls

We are, in a literal sense, pottery. God physically shaped Adam from the clay of the earth and breathed into him the breath of life. Using clay as a medium, you will spend some time reflecting upon you being God’s handiwork, and how God is still molding and shaping you into the image of his beloved. At the end of the workshop, you will have your own hand-crafted bowl filled with your very own prayer stones. Your personal prayer bowl and stones will be kiln-fired and available for pick-up two weeks after the event.

Place the bowls in your prayer spot at home and let the stones guide each one of your prayers.

Returning potter and artist Debra Zimmerman of Groovy Girl Art & Studio and her husband Dale Zimmerman will take you through this journey. While Debra works the clay, Dale will offer inspirational comments on Abba, who is the Master potter and how “we are the clay, the work of His hands.” This activity may just give you tangible ways to both enhance your prayer and prepare for the Easter mysteries.

Session 2: Prayer Pysanky

Decorating pysanky (Ukrainian Easter eggs) is part of Lenten preparations for Easter, traditional among Ukrainians and many other East-Central European groups. The word pysanky comes from the Slavic word for “writing.”

Decorating (or writing) Easter eggs in the Ukrainian style involves the process of drawing intricate designs using beeswax with a tool called a kistka and dying the eggs in successive layers. Symbols and colors are chosen to represent special meanings.

As you create your own pysanka, you can add your prayers and good wishes for the recipient of the egg. Tradition says that to give a pysanka is to give a symbolic gift of life.

At the end of the retreat, you’ll be able to bring home your kistka kit so you can continue the practice at home.

To find out more about the joy of ‘writing’ eggs, read this article from the Catholic Register: Egg decorating brings some quarantine joy (catholicregister.org)

For more information, call 828.327.7441 or email info@catholicconference.org

Retreat Schedule

Friday, January 12
5:00 PMEvening Prayer, Deacon Gilfillan
5:30 PM Director’s Reception
6:30 PM Dinner
7:00 PMSession 1: Prayer Bowls – Debra & Dale Zimmerman
9:00 PMNight Prayer, Deacon Gilfillan
Saturday, January 13
7:00 AMMorning Prayer, Hour of Adoration; Deacon Gilfillan
8:00 AMBreakfast
9:00 AMSession 2: Pysanky – Pastor Steve Saxe
12:00 PMLunch
3:00 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.

Pastor Steve Saxe

Steve Saxe has been teaching the sacred art of Ukrainian Pysanky egg decorating. He has crafted or “written” eggs for over 20 years now, having learned the craft from an Orthodox parish in the Greenville area. He has taught the craft at Furman University’s Adult Learning Program and has taught numerous other Pysanky workshops. Steve is a registered SC Craftsman and has published an article on the craft. Steve Saxe currently serves as the pastor of the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Greenville, SC.

For comments & photos on past retreats, click here

For Catholic News Herald coverage, click here

For more on pysanky and artisan Steve Saxe…

Follow this link to A Good Egg in Town Magazine, or this feature article by Somerset Studio: Pasanky, Divine Perfection:


The price is $195 per person (private room), $165 per person (shared 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 outdoor meditation areas. 


The retreat is sold out. If you would like to be added to a waiting list, please email info@catholicconference.org

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.

NOTE: To make sure everyone gets quality time with the presenters, space is limited to 24 participants. Our previous retreats have filled up, so register now.