The Dwelling PlaceThe Dwelling Place
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Sheila Avery
Sheila Avery
Administrative Assistant

Meet the staff
... and learn a little more about us

The Dwelling Place came into being in response to God's call to Clare Van Lent, O S F, in August 1985. It became a reality in January, 1987, through the assistance of the Dubuque Franciscan Community and benefactors when she and Maggie Kosse, O S F, arrived at the former Trappist monastery located north of Brooksville.

The original monastery consisted of a small chapel / library building which is still in use today. A 1960's triple-wide trailer and lean-to served as a monastery, kitchen/laundry and carport. A second trailer served as a guesthouse.

Clare Van Lent
Clare Van Lent
Founder and Retreat Director
Mary Horrell
Mary Horrell
Physical Plant Manager

The early years were spent renovating the property, creating a retreat ministry, incorporating the enterprise and obtaining non-profit status.

The early 1990's saw the formation of an advisory board, development of an Associates Program and construction of Umbria Guest House and our hermitages- Francis House, Clare House and Maria House.

Since that time we've built a stronger financial base by inaugurating a Partners Program of planned givers and by establishing an Endowment Fund. We also began conducting an annual appeal each autumn.


Between 1998 and 2003, a new staff house, San Damiano, was made ready, a sacred path with Stations of the Cross was created and a donated gazebo was assembled on the banks of our pond. A new administration building, Assisi Center, became a reality in 2009.

Most recently, we completed major upgrades to our dining facility, The Mary Ann Dee Dining Room, which are sure to enhance our retreats for many years to come.


For all the changes that have occurred since we first began, we remain focused on our goal of service to the Christian community.

Join us for one of our prescheduled retreats... or request a personal retreat that you can customize to your needs or those of your group. Clare, Mary and Sheila are available to assist in making your stay at The Dwelling Place a special and memorable experience.