Find God Here

Oct. 7 – 14, 2004
Find God Here
By Eileen Jevis/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Christ the King Retreat Center Celebrates 10 Years of Diocesan Ministry

One only has to drive a few minutes from downtown Syracuse to find one self amidst a peaceful country setting consisting of woods, rolling hills and landscaped gardens. The contemplative atmosphere surrounding Christ the King Retreat Center is conducive to its purpose –– providing the ideal environment for individuals and groups seeking spiritual growth, healing, creativity and peace. The retreat house is celebrating its 10th anniversary as a diocesan ministry on Oct. 27.

Christ the King Retreat House was originally built in 1930 as a private residence for Mr. And Mrs. Parker Stacey. Mrs. Stacey, the former Marjorie Lipe, was the daughter of one of the partners of Brown-Lipe-Chapin Company. Mr. Stacey was the Lipe family chauffer. In 1944, Father Robert Grewen, S.J., founder of Le Moyne College, was sent to the area for the specific purpose of finding a suitable location for a retreat house. After viewing the estate, he arranged for the purchase of the house and surrounding property. Bishop Walter Foery, DD, dedicated the Retreat House of Christ the King in October of 1944. The Jesuits purchased the house from the Stacey Estate and opened it as a retreat house in November of that year.

In 1955, the chapel was enlarged and the sacristy, dining room and a new kitchen were added. A new wing of bedrooms was also added at that time. The Jesuits remained custodians of the retreat house until 1994 when the Syracuse Diocese assumed the responsibility. Upon taking over the residence, the diocese, with contributions and help from many volunteers, renovated the house to its current condition. The retreat house has several large meeting rooms and can accommodate up to 100 people for conferences and seminars. It can also provide rooms for 65 overnight guests. The grounds offer a large in-ground swimming pool, many walking paths and 35 gardens. The Stations of the Cross can be visited both indoors and outdoors. Recently a new granite outdoor altar and a beautifully crafted wooden cross and shrine were built through the generosity of private donors. “Christ the King Retreat Center belongs to the people of the diocese,” said Anne Richter, a staff member at the retreat house. “Anyone who would like to come up and pray or walk the grounds is welcome.” The public is also invited to a wide range of conferences. Each month there are several retreats and days of reflection that are sponsored by the retreat house. Additionally, retreats are offered for nurses, teachers, women, men and physicians, in celebration of holy days, holidays and other occasions. Workshops on leadership, marriage, annulment, prayer, reflection for men and women are just a few of the topics covered. “Father Carmola gives talks throughout the year during special days of recollection,” said Richter. “He is a wonderful, powerful speaker. His evenings of reflection along with his holiday celebrations fill up quickly.”

The center is also open to secular groups wishing to hold workshops away from an office setting. Father Carmola, director of the retreat center, wants everyone to know that they are welcome to come for an hour, a few hours or several days, “just to be in the stillness of this sacred place.” On Wednesday, Oct. 27, in celebration of its 10th birthday, the retreat house will hold an open house. Father Carmola will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving at 11:00 a.m. Lunch and birthday cake will be served at 12:30 p.m. Father Carmola will celebrate Mass again at 5 p.m., followed by wine and dessert. All are welcome to attend. Tours of the house will be offered and videos of the house as it looked when the diocese first acquired it will be shown. Guests will also be able to tour the grounds, weather permitting.

“It is a delight seeing people walking or sitting throughout the grounds, taking in the miracle of nature,” said Father Carmola. “I always think of the man who, while dying, would come and sit, sometimes having to be brought in a wheelchair, saying, ‘I find God here.’ Our wish for you is that you too will receive that gift when you visit –– find God here.” For more information about Christ the King Retreat Center or for a program guide on upcoming retreats, call (315) 446-2680.

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