About Us

As a non-residential Spirituality Centre, Emmaus House offers a tranquil environment in which everyone can find space, time and input for their life’s journey. Whilst we are of the Catholic/Christian tradition, people of all faiths and none all are welcome.

Emmaus House is run by the Congregation of La Retraite CIO in collaboration with the Diocese of Clifton. Founded in 1674 for retreats for women, La Retraite Sisters mainly focused on education. They are returning now to a variety of ways of walking with people on their journey through life in one-to-one styles of accompaniment.

A variety of courses, workshops and day events, informal yet professional, are run on a regular basis at Emmaus House. There are rooms available should individuals or groups wish to take advantage of the opportunity to rent.

Since we believe strongly in Care for Our Common Home particular emphasis is focused on ecology and the environment.

We hope very much to welcome you to this special place.

Meet the Team:

Ann O'Sullivan

Ann O'Sullivan

  • Ann’s approach to her ministry is one of inclusion, bringing together spiritual/human development in creative ways.
  • She is trained in the Oral Tradition of the Enneagram, and finds the Jungian aspects of the MBTI® and its in-depth search very relevant to the times in which we are living.
  • Her interests include Liturgy, especially in the importance of ‘symbol’. At present she has a particular focus on ecology and Care for Our Common Home:  Hope for the Earth and Hope for the Poor.
  • Ann works and facilitates groups and offers individual spiritual accompaniment and coaching.
  • She belongs to the Congregation of La Retraite and brings many years of experience to her ministry.
Michael Healy

Michael Healy

  • Ordained as a Catholic Priest for the Diocese of Clifton in 1971, Michael enjoyed serving in seven different parishes until he retired from active ministry in 2021 and began re-directing his energies in somewhat different ways.
  • Scripture and a love of Liturgy were always his first delight, so much so that he richly prized the seven years of training in Rome where he obtained a degree first in Philosophy and then in Sacred Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University.
  • At that moment in Rome, the tectonic plates of the Catholic Church were shifting: Vatican 2 encouraged a return to the sources. Today, this move is taking a firm hold with the inspiring stance of our present Pope Francis, urging us to be outward looking in our approach: compassionate and inclusive – especially towards the poorest, the powerless and the frequently over-looked. Twice a month Michael is glad to be able to lead Services for those who find themselves locked up in the local prisons.
  • Following his original professional training with Helen Palmer and David Daniels he continues to enjoy exploring the Enneagram with others. Through regular teaching days Michael is discovering more and more insights from this intriguing “tool of compassion.”
  • The publication of Pope Francis’ letter Laudato SI’ in 2015 invited us to heed the Cry of the Poor alongside the Cry of the Earth as our common home. Being closely involved in the Environment become an important focus spurred by our Laudato Si’ animators
  • Emmaus House clearly has a significant role to perform in promoting many of those concerns. In enabling an increasing number to take an active part living our Gospel values in down-to-earth ways, we hope we will be creating an different future from the one we have known so far.

Ann and Michael are joined by friends, volunteers and collaborators in the events and ministry of Emmaus House.

Our History

For over forty years Emmaus House, from its former home on Clifton Hill, has run very successful retreats and internationally-known programmes in human and spiritual development, and offered hospitality to various charities and non-profit organisations both in the city and further afield. However the Sisters of La Retraite, the Religious Congregation who owns Emmaus House, are continuing their work in a venue more suited to their reality and resources in personnel and finance, as well as the changing context and needs of the Church.

The Sisters have been adapting to changing needs and times since their foundation in 17th Century Brittany in 1674. “Adapting to the life and times of the places in which we live and work is part of our life”. ‘Emmaus House’ has done some great and innovative work on Clifton Hill with retreats and spiritual guidance in all its forms as well as training courses, and these can all be pursued in a smaller, more modern and manageable setting in Whitchurch.

The Sisters of La Retraite can be seen to have been ‘on the move’ since they first arrived in 1924. Then, when education was the need of so many young women, it was to take over the running of the former St Joseph’s Academy for Young Ladies in Bristol. The school was successful and very popular with generations of Bristolians who were educated there but in the 1970s the school took a key role in moves to develop Catholic education as a whole in the City, something which led to the school’s closure in 1982. One door closes, another opens. Whilst part of the school became the newly established Cancer Help Society a community of Sisters moved across the road to live and work on the site of the former Prep school and Sixth Form House on Clifton Hill. This became Emmaus House.

The story of Emmaus comes from St Luke’s Gospel where Jesus accompanies two of his disciples along the road and gradually enables them to recognise him in the heart of all they are living. Our La Retraite communities are also places where we accompany people on their spiritual and human journeys. The spirit of Emmaus is behind everything we have been doing in Clifton over the years and is behind all that we hope to continue in various ways as we settle in to our new location in Whitchurch.


Sleep Lane
BS14 0QN

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Tel: 01275 792670

Email: emmaus@emmaushouse.org.uk

Congregation of La Retraite CIO
Registered charity number 1189341