Mary Morse, the new director of Idyllwild’s Spirit Mountain Retreat, stresses that the center is non-denominational and a place for personal discovery and renewal for men and women of all beliefs and practices.
“It is a place for people to get in touch with who they are, a place to find that their personal story is connected to a larger story,” she said. “The center is spiritual but not religious.”
Morse has long been connected with the center. She worked closely with previous Director Esther Kennedy in creating a movie series and discussion group in Idyllwild to promote and explain diversity, following a spate of hate crimes in the community. She had participated in and contributed to center activities.
Prior to her present appointment, she served as president of the Human Relations Council of Hemet and Menifee, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting positive human relations in the community, to educate people about the importance of diversity and to provide workshops to facilitate that process. During her tenure, Morse led the organization through many productive events, including eight annual Black History Month essay contests for middle school, high school and college students, a number of community forums on hate and violence, and public forums on diversity with attendance of more than 3,000.
In addition, Morse served as resource developer and director of Administrative Services of the nonprofit EXCEED, an organization which provides vocational and living skills training to adults with disabilities in the Inland Empire, and as Executive Director of the Valley Restart Shelter, an area homeless shelter providing transitional housing for women and children. Morse also raised funds to lease an apartment building as a transitional housing facility for young adults, to purchase a facility to be used for homeless veterans, and for the purchase of vehicles to transport elderly and disabled for shopping and medical appointments.
With a Bachelor of Arts in Human Development and the Creative Arts from Antioch University, and completion of all Master of Arts classwork in Counseling Psychology from Norwich University in Vermont, Morse brings a broad range of skills to her new position. She is an accomplished grant writer, and as such, will apply that skill to broadening the outreach and marketing of Spirit Mountain Retreat. Morse holds a Certificate in Grant Development and Management from California State University in San Bernardino.
Morse believes offering a place for spiritual practice and helping others to find their place in a larger story of personal and spiritual connectedness is Spirit Mountain’s and her own personal mission. The vision of Spirit Mountain, noted Morse, is to find and embrace one’s personal story as part of a larger planetary or universal story – and in doing so to become more open to feelings of compassion, justice and peacemaking.
She said she will use her valley-wide connections and experience to develop and implement new workshops addressing important needs such as those for women in recovery and for people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and to increase the number and variety of workshops for men.
The center offers residential retreats and workshops throughout the year. With five private bedrooms, and meeting spaces, the tranquil setting has provided a place for mediation and reflection for both visitors and Hill residents.
Visit their website,
treat.org for more information on upcoming events and residencies. November workshops include a Day of the Dead celebration on November 2 and a two-day practicum in forgiveness on November 15 and 16.