53 Mill Street, Westfield, MA 01085 • 413.562.3627
Event:***POSTPONED*** A Profound Love of Earth: Ecospirituality for Our Times weekend retreat
Date:April 1st-3rd, 2022.


This retreat will be rescheduled for later in the year. Sign up for our newsletter for updates. 


****POSTPONED****A Profound Love of Earth: Ecospirituality for Our Times

Friday to Sunday, April 1-3, 2022

Facilitated by Cary Gaunt, Ph.D., Sr. Elizabeth Oleksak, SP, and Deb Ondo

$330. Private room and meals.


The cries of Earth and her marginalized communities grow increasingly louder every day. This retreat provides a still point amidst the turbulence, and a supportive community in which to grapple with this existential crossroads and sacred call to respond.

You will join with others in silence and in shared experiences as we look deeply into our hearts asking how we shift from knee-jerk reaction to mindful response. Foremost is engaging in practices that reignite our deep connection to Earth and all her beings. We build on the legacy of eco-spirituality at Genesis, especially the unrelenting work of Genesis foundress, Sr. Elizabeth Oleksak, SP, and other wisdom teachers.

In this weekend retreat we join together to experience a renewed suite of transformational eco-spiritual practices that blend art, science, contemplation, prayer, story, ceremony, and time engaging with nature. Together we will create a unique consciousness of the crises facing the earth and learn how to activate profound felt experiences of the animated life force of creation. Our work together will help us move from confusion and grief to empowered sources of hope and healing. We look to the wisdom of nature, spirit, and each other to learn and share from the heart.

The Genesis Arboretum will serve as our guide, where we will connect prayerfully and intentionally with the land. We will cultivate a deeper relationship with the natural world, and leave the retreat with renewed intention and tangible sustainability practices to take forward into our lives.


Facilitated by Cary Gaunt, Ph.D., Sr. Elizabeth Oleksak, and Deb Ondo

Cary-Gaunt.jpg EOleksak2020-cropped.jpgDeb-Ondo.jpg


Cary Gaunt, Ph.D. is an ecospirituality scholar, teacher, and guide who offers retreats, workshops, courses, and nature-based spiritual formation programs around the country. Her engaged spirituality informs her vocation as a highly accomplished sustainability and climate responsibility professional with over 35 years’ experience leading organizations across all sectors to develop and implement watershed management, sustainability, and/or climate action plans.

Two great loves comprise the heart of Cary’s life and work. One is a profound connection with the earth formed by her childhood spent exploring the water resources, limestone ledges, fields, and forests of her family farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Her childhood kinship with the natural world was strengthened through her spiritual and academic journeys and a lifetime of listening to the land.

Cary’s Ph.D. and post-doctoral research explore the life paths and formative experiences of Christian and Buddhist role models of sustainable living and leading. She weaves their wisdom into the programs she offers, and her undergraduate and graduate teaching. Cary is currently working on two books that highlight the life stories of these extraordinary role models and illuminate the specific ecospirituality practices that formed them.

Her second great love is a deep spirituality comprised of meditation, Centering Prayer and other contemplative practices, Soulcraft™, wilderness rites of passage and nature-based approaches to inner transformation and discernment. Cary offers programs in all these modalities. She has extensive training through the Animas Valley Institute, the School of Lost Borders, and Contemplative Outreach, Ltd.

In May 2021 Cary left her position as the award-winning Director of Campus Sustainability at Keene State College to prioritize her ecospirituality work. Cary offers (1) scholarship and teaching on ecological awakening, nature-based leadership, and ecospiritual role models, (2) myriad programs on ecospiritual formation and nature-based leadership development, and (3) consulting services to faith-based organizations, churches, and retreat centers seeking to develop holistic responses to the climate crisis, including program design, goal setting and planning, and facility transformations to meet the growing global call to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and become free of fossil fuels.

Cary is currently working with Genesis to help reinvigorate its legacy and commitment to ecospirituality. She also is a lead teacher and guide with the Center for Nature and Leadership. In everything she does, Cary is committed to supporting organizations and individuals in moving beyond sustainability to restoration and flourishing.


Sr. Elizabeth Oleksak, SP, foundress of Genesis, is an experienced retreat and spiritual director and BioSpiritual Focusing facilitator. Sr. Elizabeth has a background in pastoral counseling.  She studied Centering Prayer with the Trappist Monks in the 1970's. She is also an eco-spirituality resource person.


Deb Ondo is the Program and Marketing Manager at Genesis Spiritual Life and Conference Center, where she is leading efforts to reinvigorate ecospirituality initiatives.

Prior to Genesis, Deb worked for national and regional nonprofit organizations and as a creative director in local television. She has been honored with five broadcast Emmy Awards and a Pat Weaver Broadcast Journalism Award. 

Deb lives a deeply spiritual life and has a particular interest in the Christian wisdom traditions. She believes that human beings have a moral responsibility to preserve and protect Earth and all her beings, and her own eco work draws from the interfaith teachings of ecospiritual leaders – past and present.  

Deb is also an abstract and expressionist artist. Her work is rooted in humanity's interrelatedness with the natural world as a living whole.  Her paintings and photography can be found at https://www.debondowildart.com/

Deb’s artist statement: I am drawn to our mutualism with the natural world. Through colors and lines, visions and wonder, I hope to reveal the sacred alchemy of our embodied connection. The universal wild stirs an intimate wild within. We are nourished by towering pines, cascading leaves, a vulture in the thermals, an expansive yellow sky, a cold December moon. In those moments, we become rooted in something larger than ourselves. That is why I paint – to capture the liminal, the numinous, the eternal. I am continually working on going beyond the observable to express an emergent consciousness of desire, wonder, and deep curiosity.

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How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you made them all, the earth is full of your creatures. There is the sea, vast and spacious teeming with creatures beyond number- living things both large and small.
- Psalm 104:24-25