The ministry of BREATHE launched in November 2019 with an in-person weekend retreat for moms of kids who live with mental illness at Rancho Capistrano Retreat Center (The Ranch) in San Juan Capistrano, CA. The gentle, slow-paced retreat was designed to renew and replenish the body, soul, and spirit of the weary moms. Through Kay’s intensely personal messages, times of healing worship and stories of fellow moms, participating in a communal art project, Holy Yoga, massage, longs walks with a new friend, or receiving personal counseling, spiritual direction, or a personalized prayer intensive, the BREATHE moms found peace, rest, comfort, renewed hope, and rich community.
The COVID pandemic radically affected plans for ongoing in-person retreats, so online respite support became the mainstay of BREATHE for nearly two years. Through ZOOM, we offered free calls with Kay and a variety of mental health professionals to both moms and dads. Additionally, the ministry created low-cost, half-day online retreats for parents, offering a condensed version of the in-person content that still met the emotional, relational, and spiritual needs of hurting parents. During that time, we also expanded the basic BREATHE retreat to include BREATHE: The Journey Continues in an online format for parents whose adult children need intense assistance from their parents.
In-person BREATHE retreats for moms resumed in April 2022, and we are looking forward to a full slate of BREATHE events in 2023. There are two in-person retreats for moms scheduled, plus the first in-person retreat for parents, regular free BREATHE Zoom calls with mental health professionals, a low-cost on-line BREATHE basic retreat, and an on-line BREATHE: The Journey Continues retreat. We are pleased to be offer Spanish language interpretation for the in-person retreats. If you need language support, please contact Nadia Flores, BREATHE Program Director, at .
Here are comments from past BREATHE Retreat attendees:
“From the peaceful water to the green hills, I felt peace the moment I arrived. Our every need was attended to, giving us a rest-filled break from our heavy parenting duties.”
“I arrived as a mom struggling to breathe when I thought about all my kids have on their plates. I left, not just breathing, but better equipped to face our struggles. Ten hours after getting home, a new tragedy I could never have predicted hit one of my kids; it knocked the breath completely out of me. Within a few days, I found myself breathing deeply, trusting God, and leaning on some of my new friends to navigate this new situation well.”
“I did not expect to really feel anything, but I did. God was everywhere. He was palpable, real, and present. This was the best weekend of my life!”
BREATHE: A Restorative Retreat for Mothers of Children with Mental Illness will be held March 3 - 5, 2023 at Rancho Capistrano Retreat Center in San Juan Capistrano, CA. Two nights’ accommodation (individual rooms), five delicious meals and snacks, and a variety of restorative activities are included in the registration fee of $349. Space is limited; please register now to secure your spot. In order to make space for new attendees we are not able to accommodate past in-person retreat participants. However, if you have previously attended a BREATHE Retreat and would like to volunteer please email Nadia Flores, BREATHE Program Director, at
Please click the button below to register.
March 3 - 5, 2023 in San Juan Capistrano, CA
Host & Speaker:
Kay Warren: Kay Warren cofounded Saddleback Church with her husband Rick in Lake Forest, CA in 1980 where they served until Rick’s retirement in September 2022. After the death of her son, Matthew, who lived with serious mental illness for most of his life, she founded Saddleback’s Hope for Mental Health Initiative as a way to support individuals and family members of loved ones with mental illness and suicidal ideation. The Initiative also trains others in the faith community how to launch or expand existing mental health ministries. In 2019, Kay started BREATHE, a ministry to support parents of children with serious mental illness. BREATHE events include weekend respite retreats, online retreats, and free Zoom calls with mental health professionals.
Kay was a board member of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and is active in mental health/suicide prevention efforts in Orange County, CA. Kay is the author of Sacred Privilege: Your Life and Ministry as a Pastor's Wife, Choose Joy: Because Happiness Isn't Enough, Say Yes to God: A Call to Courageous Surrender, and the coauthor of Foundations, a popular systematic theology course used by churches worldwide. Her children are Amy, Josh, and Matthew (who is in heaven), and she has five grandchildren.
Friday, March 3, 2023
2:00pm | Check In Begins
2:00pm | Pre-Paid Massages, Essential Oils Workshop, Optional Activities, Free Time
5:45pm | Dinner
6:45pm | Session One
8:45pm | Optional Late Night Activities
Saturday, March 4, 2023
6:30am | Holy Yoga
8:00am | Breakfast
9:00am | Session Two
12:00pm | Lunch
1:00pm | Afternoon Activities
Art for Healing
Personal Counsel/Spiritual Direction/Experiential Prayer
Guided Breathwork Workshop
5:30pm | Dinner
6:45pm | Session Three
8:45pm | Optional Late Night Activities
Sunday, March 5, 2023
6:30am | Holy Yoga
8:00am | Breakfast
9:30am | Session Four
11:30am | Check Out
Frequently Asked Questions
Who will be leading the BREATHE Retreat?
Nadia Flores | BREATHE Program Director
Brooke Thompson | Holy Yoga Instructor
Allison La Bianca | Holy Yoga Instructor
Laleanne Stanbery | Essential Oils Workshop
Jason Leith | Art for Healing Experience
Worship Team led by Pastor Josh Miller
Spiritual Directors and Counselors
*Please check back for information on additional program personnel
Where are the closest airports?
Southern California has multiple airports to choose from (John Wayne/Orange County, Los Angeles International Airport, Long Beach, Burbank, Ontario, and San Diego). There is no public transit system to The Ranch. Please plan to rent a car, take an Uber, or take one of the free shuttle services we offer from John Wayne/Orange County or Los Angeles International Airport. For reference, John Wayne/Orange County (SNA) is about 20 minutes from the retreat center, and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is about an hour and 15 minutes away without traffic.
What are the accommodations?
In the heart of bustling Orange County, the Rancho Capistrano Retreat Center is an unexpected jewel. The 170-acre grounds include beautiful walking paths, buildings inspired by Spanish architecture, and a historic adobe ranch house built in the 1800s, all overlooking a serene lake surrounded by shady trees, weeping willows, and palms.
The Rancho Capistrano Retreat Center offers simple and comfortable accommodations. There are two different room types, Hacienda and Lakeside. Each room is furnished with two queen-size beds and a private bathroom. Linens, towels, and an iron/ironing board are included. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the campus. Since this is a retreat center where we want our participants to unplug from daily routine, there are no televisions in the rooms. *Please note that hair dryers and toiletries are not provided.
What optional free activities are offered?
There will be a number of optional activities (included in the registration price) offered throughout the weekend to refresh your body, mind, and soul.
- Morning Yoga: Participate in a Holy Yoga class where the instructor weaves in meditation and scripture.
- Guided Breathwork Workshop: Explore a proven scientific approach to caring for our bodies. Discover how deep breathing and prayer can bring powerful internal peace and rest for your body and soul.
- Essential Oils Workshop: Learn how to elevate your spirit, promote mental clarity, and support calming habits through the use of essential oils while creating a personalized keepsake.
- Art for Healing Experience: Participate in an art experience that supports healing and self-exploration through the creative process.
- Journey with Jesus: A self-guided Stations of the Cross experience.
- Scenic Walks: Enjoy the beauty of Rancho Capistrano Retreat Center on your own.
- Fire pits and s'mores will be available on Friday and Saturday evenings.
- Board games will be provided in the common areas.
- A fun surprise!!!
Note: Attendees will have the option to select one of the following options. We will do our best to accommodate each participant's choice based on availability.
- Experiential Prayer: Experience a private, intensive prayer session with two prayer warriors who pray scripture for your loved one and strength for your personal journey as you support your child with mental illness.
- Spiritual Direction: Meet with a spiritual director who will prayerfully listen to you and ask reflective questions. The focus of this centuries-old spiritual practice is to seek God and provide space for you to notice God’s presence and activity in your life.
- Personal Counsel: Receive counsel and pastoral care with Christian professionals from the field of mental health and wellness.
What are the meals?
Five delicious meals will be provided throughout the weekend. In addition, snacks and drinks such as tea, coffee, select sodas, and sparkling water will be available.
Is this retreat for a mom who has lost a child to suicide?
We are so sorry for the loss you have experienced. There are no words for the loss of a beloved child. This particular retreat is designed for moms who currently have a child with mental illness. We do not recommend this retreat for a mom who has lost a child to suicide. Please email to receive other options for support.
Can my husband or child stay onsite at the retreat center with me?
This is a women’s only event. To be respectful of the privacy of the women who attend, we are only able to offer lodging to retreat attendees.
The BREATHE Retreat will be hosted at the beautiful Rancho Capistrano Retreat Center.