Dominican Retreat center lets visitors spend quiet New Year’s Eve

If the same old raucous New Year’s Eve celebration isn’t quite what you’re looking for this season,
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If the same old raucous New Year’s Eve celebration isn’t quite what you’re looking for this season, you might want to check out the Dominican Retreat and Conference Center in Niskayuna.

“We’re for folks who are looking for something a little bit different than just a party,” said Sister Susan Zemgulis, the administrator at the Troy-Schenectady Road facility. “For us, it’s a time of reflection. It’s a time to think about what has happened in the past year or so, and what we have to look forward to.”

Opportunity to reflect

The theme of the evening celebration is “Looking Back in Gratitude, Looking Ahead With Hope,” which will also be the subject of a short lecture presented by Father Richard Sudlik of Tewksbury, Mass., the provincial counselor of the U.S. Province of Missionary Oblates. Along with his parish ministry, Sudlik, who has degrees in philosophy, theology and pastoral counseling, has been involved in vocation and formation ministry.

His talk will kick off the evening’s activities at 7:30 p.m.

“He’s a very good speaker and we’ve had him here before a couple of times,” Zemgulis said of Sudlik. “Then we’ll have some quiet time, some time for reflection, and then we’ll have Mass. “This is the way we’ve been bringing in the New Year since 1980. It’s always been part of our ministry, and all of our retreat houses have some kind of celebration.”

The Dominican Retreat and Conference Center, at 1945 Union St., is staffed largely by the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine de’Ricci. Their mission is to keep alive the vision of the congregation’s founder, Lucy Eaton Smith, a native of New York City and Fort Edward resident who began her retreat ministry for women in 1882. There are also Dominican Retreat and Conference Centers in McLean, Va., and Elkins Park, Pa.

The cost of the New Year’s Eve celebration is $25 per person and $50 for those wishing to spend the night at the facility.

“We have some people who come and spend every year with us, and we also get a lot of new folks just looking for a more quiet way to spend the night,” said Zemgulis. “Some are married couples, some are people who come as individuals. Everyone is welcome. Typically, we’ll have anywhere from 20 to 35 people who show up.”

Time not a big concern

Actually watching the clock strike 12, according to Zemgulis, isn’t that big a deal.

“We might be in the middle of Mass, we might be in the middle of a prayer, or the choir could be singing a song,” said Zemgulis. “If you’re not spending the night, the evening usually comes to a close around 12:30 a.m.”

For those spending the night at the facility, the $50 fee includes breakfast on Friday morning. Reservations are required. For more information, contact Zemgulis at 393-4169.

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