June September December Close


March 1, 2001 Vol. 15, No. 1

Dear Friends-

Isn't this beautiful? This cuckoo clock is a family heirloom from Mary and now hangs in our house, singing us into each hour and half hour, day and night. The bird's gentle song reminds us of God's gentle call to live each day in joy and generosity.

Our rooms have been filled with many coming for solitude and renewal since I last wrote. Groups have come for prayer and insight, and at Christmas friends came to celebrate with us.

December was also a time for us of dealing with life issues. Mary had serious surgery and her mother and brother-in-law came to assist, however, her mother was bit by the flu bug and was herself weakened. On the day before Christmas my brother-in-law died and I spent the holidays in Sioux Falls with my sister and family.


Advent and the new year has brought serious reminders of new beginnings-- experiences of life and after-life. As you read the rest of this letter smile with us amidst the newness of life that is here.

Callie and Co

New Resident Staff

Our new furry calico friends, Callie and Co

Bringers of joy and laughter

Bundles of curiosity and play

Apprentice mousers.

Sheila and our new computer system

Round and About

We thought you might like to have a visual image of one of the computers that your donations have helped purchase.

Sheila still sticks close to the manuals but is becoming very proficient on scanner, Typestyler, Pagemaker, Word, and Quicken! She's our resident expert.

Can you top these

We have had roof problems on the old trailer and the dining room. Last July we thought it was repaired, September we were sure we had it licked; however, the rains in November revealed more trouble. Each time we thought the contents would remain dry. Now in the midst of January and February rains there are no interior showers. Praise God. Let's pray that the holes are filled this time!

In mid-December we ran out of butane. We vowed it would never happen again. On January 3, after a very severe cold spell, we were in need of a re-fill. Because Columbus Butane had so many orders it took several days for the delivery man to arrive. On Saturday, the 8th, a substitute filled up the tanks. As the day warmed up, the tank by the old trailer began to spew gas. After calling the company and the distributor to no avail we called 911 [to no avail, either!]. As the weather cooled and we used more gas, the safety valve calmed down, as did we! We could have BLOWN UP had there been a smoker among the retreatants!

Ten days later, January 15 in mid-morning, all electric power went out in the old trailer. After checking all the breakers, we called an electrician. He must have sensed our worry-- little did we know how great cause we had! When he arrived two hours later and inspected the roof, he found the aluminum wiring still smoldering where it had corroded with the copper fittings and shorted out! We were informed we could have burned down that morning; in fact, he was surprised at our survival!!!

Friday, February 16, the worst wind and tornadoes in 50 years hit the Columbus-Starkville area. Thousands were without power and suffered great loss. We were at the lower edge and had only three shingles blown from the chapel. And not a tree touched!

Wash away! Blow up! Burn down! or Blow away!


S O S  for Food Service

Sr. Maggie Kosse volunteered her services to The Dwelling Place for 13 years. Through her generosity she not only served wonderful meals, but also made it possible for The Dwelling Place to channel those funds to other needs. Because we operated at a deficit in 2000, we were unable to hire someone in the kitchen to provide meals, even on a part-time basis.

In addition to their other responsibilities, Clare and Mary now staff the kitchen with the help of numerous volunteers. If you feel called to assist on a weekend or a day during the week or if you would be able to send some prepared food, it would be greatly appreciated.

Dwelling Place Volunteer Program

Are you looking for ways to use your talents and skills directly serving those who need and want your help?

The Program is designed for those individuals who may choose to offer service and live-in for a short period or up to a year. They will share in the ministry, life, and prayer of the Community.

Dwelling Place Volunteers are needed with skills in retreat work, building and ground maintenance, food service, library and secretarial work. Volunteers live and work with staff and other volunteers.

If you are interested, contact Clare for further information and the application process.

Who Me? Bring a Group?

The Dwelling Place offers an opportunity for refreshment of body and soul. Consider bringing your prayer group, R C I A team, or a group of faith-filled friends to experience the peace and renewal that so many individuals experience here.

Bring your own director or know that a staff director is available. Tailor the time to fit your need for silence, sharing, prayer, and input. Contact Sheila Avery, secretary, for a date.

Dwelling Place Community Receives Diocesan Approval

On December 8, 2000, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, William R. Houck, Bishop of Jackson, established The Dwelling Place Community as a Private Association of the Christian Faithful in the Diocese of Jackson. This decree entitles The Dwelling Place Community to all of the rights and privileges afforded Private Associations of the Christian Faithful in the Code of Canon Law.

"Furthermore, William R. Houck recognizes The Dwelling Place Community as a Catholic Community of the Christian faithful, open to members of other Christian denominations which follow in the footsteps of Francis of Assisi and whose members pattern their lives on the gospel of Jesus as outlined in the constitution, Way of Life."

Thus read the Decree of Establishment of The Dwelling Place Community as a Private Association of the Christian Faithful.

(l to r) Clare Hicks, John Maloney, Martha Williams, Elaine Fish, Jean Haspeslagh, and Clare

For the past five and with greater intensity during the past two years, we have been working with Bishop Houck and the canon lawyers of the Diocese of Jackson to carve out and approve a Way of Life for The Dwelling Place Community. It is with much joy that we have reached that milestone.

Besides being dedicated to living a gospel life after the example of St. Francis and supporting one another in community, The Dwelling Place Community has assumed the responsibility for the ministry of The Dwelling Place Prayer Center through sharing their time, talents, and treasures.

Mary Horrell (left) and Clare

On February 18, each member received the documents and made their commitments to the Lord through this Community. Martha Williams, receiving the document from Clare, renewed her commitment for one year. Clare Hicks, John Maloney, Elaine Fish, and Jean Haspeslagh made three year commitments as Companion members. Community members Morag Burgess, Phillip Pepper, and Mary Ann Dee were unable to be present for the weekend.

Clare Van Lent, president of the Community, is placing a ring, the symbol of final commitment as a Covenant member in The Dwelling Place Community on the finger of Mary Horrell during the commitment ceremony February 18. Mary has been with the Community since 1994, first as a volunteer, then as a Companion and for the past two years has been living and ministering at The Dwelling Place while experiencing a time of formation as a Sojourner.



June 1, 2001 Vol. 15, No. 2

Dear Friends,

The cactus at the end of our lane speaks of the life cycle here this spring. Blossoms are forming amid the pain inducing needles. Our life this Lent-Easter season has brought us full circle remembering painfilled April, 2000. It was just one year and two weeks after we had said goodbye to Sr. Maggie that we were thrust into the same relationship with Phillip Pepper, our dear friend and Community member.

There's a hole in our hearts and a vacant spot in our Community as we grieve Phillip's absence. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and with Dolly, his widow, and our friend, also.


Our Faith in the resurrection of Christ-- and Phillip-- tells us that he lives; our pain reminds us of our loss. The very soil out of which the cactus thrives also nourishes the flower. Lord, we believe.


Some of our precious library books have come up missing and we hope that you can help us find them. If you have them among your books by mistake or know their whereabouts, please contact Sheila Avery. Thank you.

University of Dallas students with Maria (left front row) and Jack Zimmerman (right front)

"Many Hands Make Light Work"

The first of our volunteers this spring were students from the University of Dallas, March 10-17. They are pictured here with Maria (left front row) and Jack Zimmerman (right front).

The students volunteered their services here and at the homes of our neighbors, Albirta Harper and Loraine Box. They spent their afternoons at the Mark Mitchel Children's home in Columbus. Jack directed much of the yard work while Maria, John and Toni Maloney, Mary Ann Dee, Kathryn Stewart, Clara and Gene Hicks, and Cindy Huerkamp provided meals. NO ONE went hungry.

(l to r) Martha Williams, Fabvienen Taylor, and Morag Burgess

Mississippi Catholic Reporter
Interviews Community

Fabvienen Taylor, photojournalist from the dioscesan newspaper, pauses to relax with Community members, Martha Williams and Morag Burgess, on April 28 while doing a feature article on The Dwelling Place Community. We are so grateful, Fabvienen, for the accurate and positive publicity. We might even have an extra copy if anyone would like to see it!


A Special thanks to the many men and women who have helped out here this spring. Spruce Up day and after saw willing hands (and tractors) clip, strip, sow, wash, paint, cook, and ---!

Several friends and Community have helped cook and clean. Without you this ministry would be impossible. God bless you. Any others want to help?

Phillip Pepper


"Phillip was a man of few words, but like E. F. Hutton, when he spoke, everyone listened," says Community member Mary Horrell when describing Phillip.

Phillip Wyche Pepper of Jackson, Mississippi, a retired technician, died of injuries sustained in an automobile accident on Good Friday, April 13. Traveling on Highway 12 west of Kosiusko, he was struck head on at the crest of a hill by a car attempting to pass two vehicles going up a hill. Funeral services were held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Canton with burial in Ellison Methodist Church Cemetery in Vaughn, Mississippi.

We mourn with his mother, the entire Pepper family and Dolly and their three children, Richard Mark of Huntsville, Patrick Brian of Pearl, and Katherine Michelle Moore of Brandon. In the name of all who were associated with Phillip in any way through The Dwelling Place, we extend our love and support. We grieve with you.

Phillip had been affiliated with The Dwelling Place since 1990 when he and Dolly became some of the first Dwelling Place Associates. For eleven years he offered his quiet presence in prayer and service. He took an active part in the evolution of the Associates as they became The Dwelling Place Community. He was vice-president of the new Community.

Phillip was a man of prayer. He often came to The Dwelling Place for directed retreats. He was a true contemplative, and God and he found each other in the silence and solitude.

Phillip Pepper

The most apparent qualities of Phillip were his tremendous analytical mind and the dexterity with which he used his hands. It is easy to understand why he was Kroger's 'fix it' man for their scanners and computers throughout the state. He would quietly assess the difficulty, then move to repair it- with no fuss or fanfare.

He and Dolly were the first to come to assist with an event and the last to leave when the work was completed. He volunteered faithfully each month, repairing small engines and electronic equipment, rebuilding, and creating. His most frequent task was the installation and (never ending) upkeep of the path lights. His last project was the creation of a screen door for the crawl space under the staff house. That is one of many memorials he has left us to remember him.

We love you, Phillip. We hate it that you were jerked from your family-- and us. But we believe that you are near. We know you will continue to watch over your loved ones, and we trust that we now have another intercessor in heaven for our ministry here at The Dwelling Place. Sr. Maggie continues to help us in our ministry and to fill our retreats. Phillip, we are counting on you to help us find someone to keep things repaired-- especially those path lights!!



Realizing Phillip's love for this ministry, Dolly designated that memorials could be made to The Dwelling Place. As of May 10, memorials given by the following people have been recorded:

Joan Bartik
Cliff and Morag Burgess
Mary Ann Dee
Delta Implement Company
Elaine Fish
Bruce and Elizabeth Gaskin
Joseph Harwell
Lois Heard

Mary Horrell
Toni and John Maloney
Rob and Donna Reifschneider
Elizabeth Rich
Jacqueline Spong
Richard Spong
George Roman
Clare Van Lent



September 1, 2001 Vol. 15, No. 3

Dear Friends,

As we say good-bye to summer, it is a paradigm for the many farewells we are experiencing. As evident in this newsletter, we are saying good-bye to significant staff and friends. Even as we celebrate their giftedness we grieve their departure.

Clare, Jan Petrzelka, and Mary

One of our gifts from July 8-August 18 was Jan Petrzelka from the Czech Republic. As our live-in volunteer, he assisted Mary in many ways. He came to experience Christian life in the U S A through our Community and his many contacts through Corpus Christi parish. We have all been enriched by Jan's presence and generosity.

In the photo at the right, Jan helps Mary and me pick pears, just one of many of the fruit trees that were so bountiful this summer.


Buffy, our Siberian Husky, whom most of you knew as a joyful greeter and companion, is now in husky heaven. She ended her life on June 18th by doing what she loved most: running. She was 14+ years old. What is that in "Buffy years?"

Plums, peaches, figs, apples, and pears poured forth their fruits as never before in their young life. We have frozen and 'jammed' some and given much away. Now we are awaiting a bumper crop of hazel nuts and pecans. Praise God.


Resurrection follows death. We continue to celebrate the new and richer life we experience daily through our many new (and old) friends, new directions, and ever new God-dreams for this ministry.

Morag Burgess

We miss you, Morag

"Moving so far away has been the most difficult thing I have ever done," says Morag about her move to Texas. Morag has moved to Blanco, Texas and is director of spiritual formation in two small parishes in the Texas hill country.

Because of her move, Morag Burgess, our adjunct retreat director, will no longer be directing retreats here at The Dwelling Place. Many of you have been the recipients of her empathetic listening, prayerful discernment, and insightful direction.

Morag also was in charge of our library. Using her experience as a librarian, she directed many improvements in cataloging and loaning. Thanks, Morag. You were a valuable staff member.

She consoles us by saying, "Though I have taken up residence here, my heart is still with The Community. I will always be with you in spirit and in person as often as distance will allow."

Her address is 311 Misty River Run, Blanco, Texas 78606.

Round and About

We say a special THANK YOU to all those who helped with the extra house cleaning during these summer months, especially Molly Randall, Penny Hampton, and Nancy Bartowick.

Thanks, also, to the expert chefs: John Maloney, Jean Haspeslagh, Elaine Fish, Martha Williams, Mary Ann Dee, Clara Hicks, Elaine Trenor, Kathleen Naughton, Sherrie Groman, and Katie Huerkamp. Mary and I are becoming more proficient in the kitchen, too. The Dwelling Place Cookbook really is put to good use!

July 4th was a fire cracker day. In a violent electrical storm, lightning struck one of our tall pine trees and zippered its bark off. It also damaged one of the modules in our phone system. We praise God for insurance and warranties!

Another point of grieving- our copier that we have used for 14 years bit the dust. Like it or not, financially able or not, we must buy a new copier. We pray for a generous donor to help us finance this necessary item in our office.

Fee Increase in 2002

Due to our rising costs it is necessary for us to raise our fees. Beginning January 1, 2002 the fee for a day of retreat and an overnight will be $55. This would be $110 per weekend. This fee increase is in line with or below that of many other retreat houses in the nation. The actual cost to us is over $130 per day. The remainder is covered by donations.

We appreciate your understanding in this. We do not want this to be prohibitive for those in need. The grants we receive help us to offer scholarships for those unable to pay the full price.

Click to enlarge

Sr. Maggie's Memorial Plaque

Shown here is the memorial plaque that now graces the wall in "Sr. Maggie's Kitchen." It is mounted on a mahogany frame and sealed under plexiglas. Sorry this was so long in coming, Maggie. There were too many feelings tied up with the project before this.


Some of our precious library books have come up missing and we hope that you can help us find them. If you have them among your books by mistake or know their whereabouts, please contact Sheila Avery. Thank you.

St. Francis of Assisi by Marion Habig
Let's Begin Again by Father Sherwood
The Decline of Pleasure by Walter Kerr
The Life of Teresa of Jesus by Teresa of Avila
To Jesus Through Mary by Mother Mary Potter
Empowering Relationships by Aspell, Patrick, et al.
The Gospel According to John by Bishop's Committee
St. Teresa of Avila: A Biography by William Thomas Walsh
How to Deal with Difficult People by Andrew Costello, C S S R
Breakaway: 28 Steps to a More Prayerful Life by Mark Link, S J
How to Pray for Inner Healing for Yourself and Others by Rita Bennett
Weavers of Wisdom: Women Mystics of the 20th Century by Anne Bancroft
The Kingdom Within: A Study of the Inner Meaning of Jesus' Sayings by John Sanford
Listening to the Music of the Spirit by David Londsdale, S J (This is no longer in print.)


Create your own retreat

Consider bringing your prayer group, R C I A team, or a group of faith-filled friends to experience the peace and renewal that so many individuals experience here. Bring your own director or know that a staff director is available. Tailor the time to fit your need for silence, sharing, prayer, and input. Contact Sheila Avery, secretary, for information.

Dwelling Place Receives Three Grants for Ministry Here

We have received three grants this summer for various ministries here. The first is a grant of $7200 from the Sisters of St. Agnes, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, to subsidize ministry to the addicted. Watch the next newsletter for dates of weekends focusing on the needs of the addicted and their families.

Another grant of $7650 was received from the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration to subsidize our ministry to the abused. Often financial resources are not available for those dealing with abuse, either in a shelter or as they try to regain their life after living in an abusive situation.

We have been awarded a third grant of $4000 from the Catholic Foundation of Jackson to partially subsidize both our volunteer program and the purchase of our new computer system.

We are very grateful for the support of these foundations for our ministry here. It is through the generosity of others- individuals and groups, that we are able to continue to do our bit for the spread of the reign of God in this corner of Mississippi.

We extend a special invitation to anyone who is/has been in counseling or active in A A or Alanon and is ready to let God in to heal the wounds of violence, abandonment, abuse, and addiction.



December 1, 2001 Vol. 15, No. 4

Dear Friends,

Sunday we begin the Advent-Christmas season-- new years's day in the Liturgical Year. Besides making preparations for celebrating Christ's birth, it is a time of hope.

If ever we need hope it is now-- living in such an uncertain world since 9/11. The Sunday readings during Advent have little to say about preparation for the coming of Christ in history but much to say about the final coming of Christ at the end of time.

I think they speak to these recent events and challenge us to prayer and to hope for a world of Peace-- trusting in Christ, the Source of Peace.

I think of it also as a time of new beginnings. We are delighted to see an increasing interest in our volunteer program and are limited only by our lack of space. Only the Spirit knows where that will lead.

We are encouraged also by our renewed collaboration with Safe Haven, the refuge for the abused in Columbus, the Rape Crisis Center and Recovery House. Through our grants from the LaCross Franciscans we are able to offer our center as a place of spiritual solace for them. The January retreat, made possible through a grant from the Sisters of St. Agnes, is dedicated to the study of The Big Book and will minister to the addicted.

We also welcome the Rachel's Vineyard retreat for those who suffer after an abortion. We have always reached out to those suffering from the painful experiences of the past but this new year sees us ministering to them in a new way.

Mary, Sheila, Clare

We always welcome our friends-- new and old-- and offer them the healing love of God, comfortable accommodations and rather decent food!!

The blessings of the Eternal Word-made-flesh be with you now and in 2002.

Jean Haspeslagh makes a point with Elaine Fish and John Maloney at the Oak Tree Inn as they gather to celebrate fifteen years of Dwelling Place history.

Dwelling Place marks Fifteenth anniversary


November 4 was the date chosen to anticipate the anniversary of the inception of The Dwelling Place. January 1, 1987 Clare and Maggie started out from Mount St. Francis, Dubuque, Iowa and arrived in Brooksville the next day. So much has happened since that first day in Mississippi. God has been so faithful in giving us a vision and in seeing us through.

We spent the day marveling at the many blessings and miracles that have flooded through the years. We celebrate the thousands of retreatants that have come, the development of the land, the building of the hermitages, guesthouse, and staff house.

We rejoiced in all the generous service of those who have served here and those who have donated their time, talents, and treasures. Those present shared the part that they played in Dwelling Place history and how the ministry here touched their lives.

We invite you, our readers, retreatants, and friends, to stop by anytime and help us celebrate!!

Fee Increase in 2002

Due to our rising costs it is necessary for us to raise our fees. Beginning January 1, 2002, the fee for a day of retreat and an overnight will be $55. This would be $110 per weekend. This fee increase is in line with or below that of many other retreat houses in the nation. The actual cost to us is over $130 per day. The remainder is covered by donations.

We appreciate your understanding in this. We do not want this to be prohibitive for those in need. The grants we receive help us to offer scholarships for those unable to pay the full price.

Round and About

Copier:  As we wrote in our last newsletter, our Mita copier that served us well for 14 years breathed its last. We purchased a Rico Aficio 180 and are presently feeling 'copier-challenged' as we struggle to take advantage of all its capabilities. Thanks to grant money from the N D Rupp Foundation we were able to purchase it outright and also make our final payment on the computers.

Knights of Columbus volunteers

Volunteers:  We continue to be supported and assisted by many friends. Pictured [left] are the Knights of Columbus from Annunciation Parish in Columbus as they take a break from the yard work on November 10. Tony Torrez, center with sun glasses, spearheaded the group. Young, middle-aged, and older came to offer their muscle for the day.

November 17 a teen group from St. Joseph, Starkville organized by Karen McFadyen, came to continue the yard work. Pine straw this fall is plentiful!! This year we also praise God for the plentiful supply of pecans!

Annual Appeal:  I want to thank all of you who have contributed to our annual appeal. Our principal goal was to retire the loan on our staff house. We have made serious inroads into that, and ya'll will be the first to know when it's complete. Listen for the cheers coming from east central Mississippi!!

New Board Member:  The Dwelling Place, Inc. welcomes Elaine Fish to the Corporation board as its newest member replacing Morag Burgess as vice-president. The board meets quarterly and is actively involved in administration of The Dwelling Place.

What good is it to me if this eternal birth of the divine Son takes place unceasingly but does not take place within myself?

What good is it to me if Mary is full of grace and I am not also full of grace?

What good is to me for the Creator to give birth to the divine Son if I do not also give birth to Christ in my time and my culture?

This then is the fullness of time.

When the Son of God is begotten in us"

[ Meister Eckhard ]

The Other Way to Listen

"Be Still and Know that I am God."

Byrd Baylor and Peter Parnell have written a children's book called THE OTHER WAY TO LISTEN. This is the story of an old man who had a special way of hearing. He was able to hear wildflower seeds burst open, rocks murmur, and hills sing. He knew "the other way to listen" and thought it the most natural thing in the world. The story is about a child who wants to be able to hear the trees and hills and hopes to learn the old man's secret way of listening.

This is what he learned. First, you must step outside yourself. Focus completely on what it is you are listening to, whether that is another person, something in nature, or even silence. Learning to listen takes lots of practice. You will need to devote yourself to this skill over a long period of time. You must really, really LISTEN. For many of us The Dwelling Place is not only a place of solitude but also a place for learning to listen-- to the depths of ourselves, to the call of the Spirit within.

Listen to the urging to come into the silence.

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