Can Marble Retreat Help YOU?

by Louis McBurney, M.D., Marble Retreat Founder

(updated by Michael MacKenzie, clinical director in 2016)

When Marble Retreat was founded 42 years ago to provide brief, intensive counseling for clergy in crisis, it was a pioneering approach to what many believed was a non-problem.

“Clergy are not supposed to have problems,” was the popular belief. “Or if they did, they could just pray about them and they would go away.”

I was convinced that they wouldn’t just go away. After a quarter of a century of service to more than 2,500 clients, I am convinced the problems are multiplying.

In fact, today’s clergy are forced to fight their own individual traumas against crushing odds.

The standard stressors are still there: unrealistic expectations … impossible time demands … loss of privacy … role confusion … power struggles … financial crunches … family conflicts … sexual temptations. But the new ones are overwhelming: fragmenting cultural foundations … sudden shifts in values … secularization and alienation of the church … job insecurity … and readily accessible Internet pornography.

The clergy fight complex social needs while the fabric of family, community and church unravels around them. These first-line caregivers, who are expected to have all the answers, are forced to cope somehow, having had fewer role  models and flimsier foundations than any prior generation.

To persist in expecting clergy to be “super saints” with no problems is to invite disaster:

  • It increases the likelihood that a minister and his or her family will brown out or crash and burn.
  • That means that the church will experience months, even years, of chaos and high cost as they attempt to heal and find new leadership that will restore credibility.
  • It means that the faith of a generation of young people will be at least shaken and at worst destroyed.
  • And it usually weakens the credibility of the entire Christian family within the community.
The good news is that there is a growing awareness among denominational leaders of the need for clergy support. And there is an attitude shift on the part of informed lay leaders about the importance of encouraging, even providing for, clergy care.

There has been an explosion of clergy care programs ranging from quiet getaways to long-term counseling resources (see our Ministry Resources page).

As a pioneer in clergy care, Marble Retreat applauds these varied options. We have encouraged this growth and assisted many of them with materials and mentoring. And we often refer inquirers to other caregivers. But by conviction and call, we remain true to our original purpose.

The Marble Retreat distinctive is that it provides brief intensive psychotherapy with spousal participation, and does so in a secluded, safe, mountain retreat far away from the stresses and strains of the clergy’s glass-house pressure cooker existence.

It works. Successful experience has shown that it is easier for a minister to unmask, unload, and refocus in such a peaceful mountain setting.

Marble Retreat operates year round, offering 8-day sessions in each of the beautiful seasons Colorado provides.

Small groups of no more than eight persons live together in a cozy mountain lodge for two weeks. Crackling fireplaces, a relaxing Jacuzzi, a recreation room and exercise equipment, mountain bikes and fantastic hiking trails all combine to create a place where individuals can relax and safely focus on crucial life issues.

Marble Retreat hosts, Henry and Eva Villarreal extend a warm welcome and prepare nutritious gourmet meals. Directors, Patti and Steve Cappa provide administrative and clinical guidance as well as conducting the majority of the groups. As a board-certified psychiatrist and now a Marble Retreat Fellow, Louis and Melissa are regularly involved with some therapy sessions and from time to time other licensed therapists step in to lead groups.

The 8-day sessions include 27 hours of group counseling and three hours of individual counseling allowing undistracted concentration on the problems at hand.

Marble Retreat guarantees strict confidentiality. But many of the 2,500 alumni who have been successfully treated at Marble Retreat volunteer to connect, anonymously and confidentially, with a candidate who wants to ask questions before coming.

“The combination of the therapy, length of time, awesome scenery, relaxed atmosphere, interacting with others in the ministry, hosts, and healthy food were great.”

“Knowing that God orchestrated every last detail, PERFECT is the only word to describe the Marble Retreat program.”

“Thanks be to God that Louis and Melissa have been faithful to God’s calling and Marble Retreat continues (by God’s grace) to be a reality. Our lives have been forever changed and we are grateful.”

“The combination of Louis and Melissa’s God-given insights and the precious ‘safe place’ that was created by freely being able to share our real lives with other ministry couples in crisis during the group sessions made my experience at Marble Retreat utterly unforgettable! At Marble Retreat God opened the gates to a pathway of true healing.”

For more testimonials, please visit our Testimonials page

Your Marble Retreat Invitation

Marble Retreat is not for everybody. But for those who really need it, it could well be the only hope. If we are not your answer, we can suggest other resources appropriate to your individual need. There is no reason to try to “tough it out” alone, when help is near.

To discuss your situation in confidence please call us at 970-963-2499. Or explore this website for more information.