The O’Dwyer Retreat House recognizes and ignites the divine spark in the youth, young adults, and adults who come to visit. Located 20 miles north of Baltimore, the Retreat House is a perfect place, as is says as you enter the lobby, to “Come Apart and Rest Awhile.”


Throughout his years of ministry, Msgr. Clare J. O’Dwyer was a person who believed our young people deserved the best we could do for them.  So when the Castaways Country Club in Sparks came up for sale, he asked Cardinal Shehan to purchase the property for the Archdiocese for use as a youth retreat house.  As the leader of the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) for the Archdiocese, Msgr. O’Dwyer and a group of local businessmen (who made up the first Board of Directors), got the property ready to start on its mission of serving the youth of Baltimore and the surrounding areas.  The CYO Retreat House, as it was known, welcomed  a group of young men from Mt. St. Joseph High School for the first retreat in late September 1963

In 1967 Msgr. O’Dwyer received a new assignment and the CYO Retreat House named a director to oversee operations.  But for the rest of his life Clare O’Dwyer advocated and worked tirelessly for the retreat house he helped start. It was his promise to Cardinal Shehan that the Retreat House would become  a “Spiritual Powerhouse for Young People” for the Archdiocese of Baltimore and neighboring dioceses.  The hundreds of thousands of youth and adults who have come through its doors  for more than 50 years now, who have laughed here and cried here and prayed here, will attest that the House is that place that Msgr. O’Dwyer promised it would be.

After his death, the CYO Retreat House was fittingly renamed the Monsignor Clare O’Dwyer Retreat House.   Today, the House continues to serve 7,000 – 8,000 youth and adults each year.   We strive to create a prayerful and comfortable setting, where retreatants can feel at home as they build up their relationship with God.


Our Mission

We support and partner with the Catholic youth and young adults who “come apart and rest awhile” in order to encounter God in this holy space, and nurture their call as disciples of Jesus in the Catholic tradition.  

Our Vision

We seek to fulfill Monsignor Clare O’Dwyer’s vision of being a “spiritual powerhouse” for Christian growth, renewal, and hope.  In an atmosphere of service and hospitality, youth and young adults gather for community and prayer through retreats, days of recollection and events.  We invite the young church to deepen their faith as disciples of Jesus and send them forth to witness to the Gospel in their parishes, schools, and wider church.


Check out our 50th Anniversary video

1- Archbishop of Baltimore William Lori speaks about the Msgr. O’Dwyer Retreat House

2- The House is a Place to Get Away

3-A Spiritual Powerhouse

4-Hear the Whisper of God at Msgr. O’Dwyer Retreat House