Over the causeway from Masons Island in Fisher’s Island Sound, at the mouth of the Mystic River, lies the enchanted Enders Island. You won’t find the best fried clams or ice cream here. In fact, you won’t find any restaurants or charming little shops here at all. The attraction of this peaceful island is its spiritual qualities, which draw those looking to refresh their souls.
Enders Island was the home of Dr. Thomas B. Enders in the early 20th century. His widow, Alys Enders, donated the 11-acre estate to the Society of St. Edmund in 1954, and it was used as a novitiate through the 1970s. In 2003, St. Edmund's Retreat became an independent Catholic ministry, and now runs a variety of recovery programs and interfaith retreats, guided and private, for thousands of attendees each year.
Visitors also come simply to meditate by the sea and in the gardens, and to commune with nature. A grotto at the water’s edge is obviously considered a sacred place as a makeshift altar overflows to the gravel floor with memorials, mementos and personal notes. Granite benches etched with names and epitaphs provide private spots for quiet contemplation.
Enders’ original Arts and Crafts-style mansion still stands next to an exquisite new chapel, where 15 paintings of the Stations of the Cross with views of the island incorporated into each design are displayed. The paintings were created by Jed Gibbons, an instructor at St. Michael Institute of Sacred Art, a school on the grounds, where students of all ages come for intensive training in stained glass, manuscript illumination, iconography, painting and Gregorian chant.
“Wonderful things happen on Enders Island,” says Jeff Anderson, executive director of St. Edmund’s. “People’s lives are changed when they come here.”
For more information, call (860) 536-0565, or visit endersisland.com.Land's End