The Grail Center of Cornwall
Founded in 1975, this small Education and Retreat Center is also an intentional community, part of an international women’s movement, the Grail, concerned with social, cultural, and environmental transformation through the empowerment of women. We work to enable women to find their voices and take action. We seek to build solidarity across racial, class, ethnic, and national boundaries.
Since its inception in the Netherlands in 1921 as a Catholic lay women’s organization, the Grail has pioneered cutting-edge programs to express its vision of world transformation through the empowerment of women and the development of women’s leadership skills. Today a diverse, ecumenical, and intergenerational movement, the Grail is in 18 countries and holds NGO status at the United Nations.
The Grail recognizes the interrelatedness of spirituality and the work of peace, social justice, women's empowerment, economic self-sufficiency, and environmental sustainability. Our international network of women, each group governed locally, is positioned to act at the local level to effect global change with the advantages of networking across international boundaries.
The Cornwall Center is located on a beautiful wooded hill on 50 acres near the Hudson River, about an hour from New York City. The Center houses the new Women's Institute for Social Transformation (WIST), which will train community organizers in the popular education methodology developed by Grail members called "Training for Transformation." The methodology helps train community organizers to work with community members to identify needs and to work in a participative process to meet those needs.
We also hold Grail-sponsored retreats and workshops in a spacious and attractive 19th century estate home we call "the Phoenix". Workshops and retreats reflect the Grail's holistic approach to global transformation, with topics as diverse as Community Development, Personal Growth, Spirituality, Wellness, and the Environment. The community of staff members seeks to live gently with the earth, aware of the impact that indiscriminate consumption has on our environment and others. To that end, we live simply, recycle, and compost our food scraps. We also welcome many international Grail members visiting the United States. The Phoenix is also available to other groups for retreats or conferences.
The Women's Institute for Social Transformation (WIST), a project of the USA Grail, opened its office at the Cornwall Center in May of 2006. The Institute's workshops are aimed at providing leadership skills and an in-depth understanding of present social issues to women who are social activists, educators, union organizers, teachers, faith-based workers-- any woman committed to creating a world of peace and justice.
All the programs will be based on popular education methodology, an adult education pedagogy committed to social justice and rooted in the real interests of ordinary people. Through popular education, individuals and groups learn to analyze the situation they are living in, to understand the root causes of the issues they are facing, and to organize in order to take action. Developed by the Brazilian teacher and pedagogue Paulo Freire, the principles of popular education have become an intrinsic part of education models that emphasize the role of experience and reflection in the learning process. The process is one in which participants are encouraged to discover their own questions and answers, where everyone teaches and everyone learns, in a collective process that stimulates critical consciousness and fosters new knowledge.
WIST is committed to engaging in popular education to train, support, and collaborate with women working for social change both locally and globally. For more information, please call Simonetta Romano at (845) 534-2301 or e-mail WIST@us-grail.org
Please contact us or visit our website for:
--a list of Grail-sponsored programs and retreats at the Cornwall Center --information about related groups that meet in the New York City area, such as our Politics and Spirituality group that meets monthly ---if your group would like information about holding your retreat here --or to volunteer.