June September December Close


March 1, 2005 Vol. 19, No. 1

Dear Friends-

The daffodils around the statue of Mary speak of the new life of spring- the signs of hope of early spring that match the sign of hope that is the season of Lent. More than anything else we have requests from people who desire to get away to be still and pray. The Dwelling Place is primarily a place of quiet and prayer.

As I was looking back over the calendar to write about the happenings here I am filled with gratitude to God who is always tugging us into a future as every week we host/direct retreatants and those who come for spiritual direction and prayer.

Morag's signature

God's plan for us as church and as individuals always unfolds, like the daffodils, among the ordinary and in our faithful listening to the ordinary around us. We, like all of you who come to The Dwelling Place, step forth having heard God's word spoken through the everyday events of our lives- hum drum as they may seem. So this Lent we all extend the invitation- Come away -- return renewed.

Wish List

Library News

Can you please check your shelves for a missing book?

Ministry Burnout by John Sandford.

From the Kitchen

When you register for a retreat, please let us know if you have any food allergies or if you are a vegetarian -- even if you have told us in the past, notify us each retreat, please! Thanks.

(*Marvin Peyton is a friend and Dwelling Place Associate)

Praise God

God takes care of us in many ways. This week we received the following letter and donation:

"Please accept the enclosed check as a donation in honor of a man named Peyton* who stopped in much traffic to assist me with a flat tire last week on Lakeland Drive in Flowood, Mississippi.

After refusing my offer of a cash gift several times, he then remarked that if I so desire, a donation to The Dwelling Place would be greatly needed and appreciated. He had visited your center recently.

Claudia Hankins, Pearl, Mississippi

God's grace and peace be yours,"

Dwelling Place Community

As part of the last two community retreats we have been studying the book, Guests of God by Monika Hellwig.

The main idea of the book is that we are the recipients of God's hospitality. It is a thought provoking idea as we wrestle with how we live and minister! It is not a difficult read and we all recommend the book! We are looking forward to exploring it more in depth on our Associate/Community day April 30.

3-day: May 20-23, May 27-30, June 12-15, July 22-25

6-day: May 16-23, May 27-June 2, June 12-18, June 26-July 1, July 17-23

8-day: May 27-June 4, July 17-25

Donation: 3 day- $195, 6 day- $390, 8 day- $520

Preview on Summer Retreats

We welcome Joy Lyons from Atlanta, previously on our staff, back to direct the 3 or 6 day retreat June 12-18

We also welcome Sr. Marie Barth, P B V M , from Dubuque, Iowa, our artist in residence for one week, who is again offering her retreat "Spirituality in Beauty" from June 26-July 1. More about both of those in our next newsletter.

Mary and 'John Deere'

John Deere Joins Staff

In December we grieved and rejoiced. Grieved that our John Deere 318 that had been our faithful friend for over 15 years died. Within a few days his descendant G T 2 4 5 came to assist.

Yes, the John Deere Cap also came with the deal. Now our task is to get Mary OFF the tractor. Our grounds in January have never looked so clean. Come and see.

For Your Information

We are becoming very high tech! Not only is the Mastercard and Visa terminal in operation but we can also do electronic transfers for donations.

Many Thanks to--

In Memoriam: Noel English

Just after the last newsletter went to the printers we were saddened to hear of the death of Noel English. His mother, Billie, was a friend of The Dwelling Place for many years, and the December issue contained many memorials in her honor.

Noel was killed in a plane crash in Afghanistan on November 27, 2004. We send our sympathy and our prayerful support to Aero, his father, and to Lauren, his sister.

Juana Rodriguez [center] and her family

Round and About

December 12- Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe was a celebration of new life. Our housekeeper, Juana Rodriguez was expecting a baby so in lieu of a Community Christmas party we held a baby shower for Juana. Anna Laura Rodriguez arrived safely January 18.

January 8th was a party day- we celebrated Epiphany with some of our Sister friends and other faith filled women from the area. Mary taught us a new variety of dominoes as we swapped gifts.

The birds have been here in droves- cardinals, blue jays, red-wing blackbirds, gold finches, juncos, sparrows, meadow-larks - and a determined red-headed woodpecker who hangs upside down from a branch to eat at his preferred birdfeeder.

You should see the bee colony that has taken up residence high in one of our old pines. Quite a large hive and an impressive sight. They are adding a second nearby.

Clare's Corner

So what's been happening with the Capital Campaign?

For the most part, our individual meetings and in-home gatherings are over. Rhonda Ferguson is heading up her committee to make contacts with corporations in the area.

To date we have $225,499 pledged and have received $28,834 in donations. This comes to a total of $254,333.

We are so grateful for all of you who have pledged or have given donations. We thank you for the hope that you give us and the trust that you put in the future of this ministry among you.

As you may know we had to take out a line of credit to borrow the funds to conduct the campaign. We have paid that down to $20,200 for which we are most grateful.

As you may remember in our communications with you, we informed you that since the campaign superceded the Annual Appeal, the average amount of $9000 that usually accrued from that appeal was taken from the capital campaign, also.

As you mentally do the math, you will see that this total thus far of $254,333 does not quite touch the preliminary goal of $300,000. We are hoping that further pledges and donations from Corporations will help us reach that goal.

Although the funds pledged are not sufficient to begin construction, we are moving ahead with building plans believing and trusting that as we step forth in faith, we will have the funds needed when everything comes together. We have had some in-kind gift offers and will continue to pursue grants, also.

Sheila Avery, who is administering your pledges and donations, asks that you please earmark donations for capital campaign or operating expenses. She wants to give you proper credit. She appreciates your faithful followup on your pledges and is especially pleased with the large number who have chosen to make contributions through automatic transfer.



June 1, 2005 Vol. 19, No. 2

Dear Friends,

The image of supplying the seeds has been one that has been with me consistently during the last months.

As you know we rely on you, our supporters and partners, for us to be able to continue in ministry here. Unlike almost every other retreat centre in existence, we are not subsidized or underwritten by a diocese or religious order.

We are always humbled and moved by your support of what we do here. Many of you, our donors, have supported us consistently throughout the years; some of you have become our Partners. This support reflects your commitment to our mission and the extent to which you involve yourselves in our activities.

Morag's signature

And so the seeds you sow grow to a harvest of men and women walking in wholeness, freedom, and dignity. Thank you from the entire staff!

On April 30th, The Dwelling Place Community and Associates gathered for a day of reflection, study, and prayer. Of course, we laughed and ate as well! We were inspired as we watched a short film, "Celebrate What's Right With the World" which, as well as some breathtaking photography, contained some thought-provoking insights.

I'd like to share some of these points to ponder.....

...although De Witt Jones was speaking from the standpoint of a photgrapher, the insights are just as true for our journey of faith.

"Our vision controls our perception and our perception becomes our reality."
"When the vision is clear, passion and creativity are there as well."
"Be open to see it...build a vision of possibility.. ..transform the ordinary into the extraordinary."

Round and About

Puppies for a week!

As if Prince and Shadow were not enough in the line of pets, we made room for more.

This cute little family was abandoned on our road. The puppies were healthy, had been well fed, and were very cuddly. Fortunately we were able to find good homes for them within a week before they wriggled their way totally into our hearts.

Since they were present during the "Rachel's Vineyard" retreat, the only female was named "Rachel," and the last male to be given away was aptly called "Vinny"!


Guard Dog on Duty

On Anna Laura Rodriguez's first day at The Dwelling Place, Prince was her self-appointed guardian.

He was watching over her like she was his very own! As well as the joy of new life, we are very glad to have.

Juana is back with us, helping to maintain the beauty of the buildings.

Many Thanks to ...


Ashes to Gold: The Journey of Spirituality
Oct 7 - 9

From the ashes of abuse, addiction, divorce, or another painful life experience, God calls us to the journey of spirituality.

For Christians in recovery and others who wish to grow in Christian discipleship, this weekend retreat will explore the essentials of the journey of spirituality including living by faith, not by sight; living one day at a time; surrender, letting go, and renunciation; and knowing God's will.

Facilitated by Martin M. Davis, recovery author, professional counselor, and national workshop presenter. See his web site at www.mannabooks.org

Midwest Students Offer Service During Spring Break

Mount Marty students

The grounds resounded to marching feet and the sound of voices chanting "Hi-ho, Hi-ho,'tis off to work we go!"

No, it is not the latest version of Gregorian chant nor has The Dwelling Place been invaded by dwarves but rather we were experiencing the blessing of a group of enthusiastic young women from Mount Marty College in Yankton, South Dakota. They spent their Spring Break helping here and at the Brooksville and Macon schools and Palmer Home in Columbus.

Everyone was enriched by their generous spirit, their deep faith, and sense of fun. Thanks, girls; please come back.

Wish List

I Come to You

I Come to You
I come to you...
I come to You, my God,
in the stillness of the morning,
in the center of my being,
to love You, to praise You,
just to be with You.
I come to you, my child,
to bring you many gifts--
gifts of forgiveness and peace,
of my great love for you,
of my gentle healing for you,
of just sharing quiet time with you.
We two are one, my God and I.
He is the stronger, the Lover,
the healer, the Wise one.
I kneel in awe of Him.

Molly Randall
(Molly is long-time friend, benefactor, and retreatant from Oakland, Mississippi. She shares her experience of Centering Prayer in the Labors of Love published by Noble House this spring.)

From the Kitchen

When you register for a retreat, please let us know if you have any food allergies or if you are a vegetarian -- even if you have told us in the past, notify us each retreat, please! Thanks.

Clare's Corner

So what's been happening with the Capital Campaign?

We are so grateful to you, our donors, as you continue to fulfill your pledges. Know that we pray for you and yours in our daily prayer. Thus far, we have $225,499 pledged and to date have received donations of $33,284 bringing our grand total to $258,783.00.

Our corporation committee has begun contacting various businesses in the area. We are also grateful for support from these corporations, either in donation of money or in-kind gifts specific to their business. We are also grateful to all our volunteers who have put themselves on the line for us.

We have had some very fruitful planning sessions with our architect, Belinda Stewart, and her associate, Stephanie Stewart (no relative, I understand). It is exciting to see our dreams take shape, even if only on blueprints.

Though our present finances do not support it, we hope to begin construction sometime in 2006. We trust that God will make a way since this building project is a real need for the continuance of His ministry and healing presence in this area.

Remember these old friends?

Sr. Alice Schaefer


The first week of May, Mary and I drove to Dubuque, Iowa to visit Sr. Marcie Gisch and Sr. Alice Schaefer.

(l to r) Clare, Sr. Marcie Gisch, Mary

Sr. Alice is still our faithful stamp collector amidst her volunteering at Holy Ghost School and working several hours in the kitchen each week. She has had two knee replacements and says she feels like she is 30 again!!

Pretty good for someone who is 78 (same age as Pope Benedict XVI!).

Sr. Marcie now lives in Holy Family Hall, the residence for those sisters needing more assistance. Her usual mode of corridor travel is a wheel chair, and she loves her room close to chapel. She had her 86th birthday this month and that ready smile and gentle demeanor are still her trademark.

In case you would like to write to them, their address is 3390 Windsor Avenue, Dubuque, Iowa 52001-1311



September 1, 2005 Vol. 19, No. 3

Dear Friends,

I hope that your summer has been as grace-filled as ours has been. In spite of the horror of war, terrorist attacks, ravages on the environment, or the undeniable injustice in the world, we rejoice in the Christian hope that good will ultimately triumph.

One of the great privileges of being part of the retreat ministry is the awareness of being part of God's plan to bring healing and hope. I have begun to realize why I appreciate autumn so much. We have a great deal to learn from autumn trees. Not one of us wants to be as vulnerable to winter as they are. And yet each of us, if we are open to growth and change, will experience this in our inner selves - the letting go in order that new growth may come.

New growth means change. Leaves tell us this. One of the most beautiful aspects of the incarnation is that Jesus allowed himself to be vulnerable to all those things that we know as daily dyings just like those autumn leaves falling from the trees. This fall go for a walk in the woods or just down the street. Let your heart wander through the leaves. Take time to browse through a gospel. Note all the times that Jesus opened himself to hurt and misunderstanding; allow yourself to be vulnerable to God's power working through you.

Morag's signature

Please know that we hold each of you, our friends, in our daily prayer. We are so grateful for your prayers, too. Can I ask you to pray particularly for our Dwelling Place Community retreat September 29-October 1, please? This is a time when we jointly seek the Lord's direction in our ministry here as well as enjoying each other's company!

Blessings of peace.

"Come and See"

On August 26-27 The Dwelling Place Community and Associates hosted a "Come and See" overnight for people interested in understanding better what this Dwelling Place Community and its Associates are all about.

We are eager to share the vision and the Franciscan spirit that permeates this place.

Check with Morag as to when our next "Come and See" will be. This may be the next step in your Christian walk.

Wish List

Retreat Leader Dies

Fr. Tom Gedeon, S J , founder of Retreats International, passed away July 22, 2005 in Grand Blanc, Michigan. Always a lover of the spiritual life, it was Fr. Gedeon's dream to have an organization which would combine both the men's and women's retreat movements and foster spirituality throughout the continent. In 1977 it became a reality, and he held the position of executive director of Retreats International until his retirement in 1998.

The Dwelling Place is an active member of Retreats International, a professional organization of over 500 retreat houses in the U S and Canada. We are grateful for his vision and leadership as we mourn his death.

Sisters "Cook... & Card the Books"

From June 28-July 10 Sisters Janet Kreber and Marian Einck, O S F , offered their services in so many ways at The Dwelling Place.

Sister Marion Einck

Sister Janet Kreber

Sr. Marian is shown at the card catalog 'mega-filing' the nearly 150 new and donated books and tapes! She checked donated books against our existing stock, wrote over-due notices, and kept Morag and Sheila busy keeping up with her!!

Sr. Janet gives of her time with us each summer. She comes offering her many talents and works efficiently at varied tasks seeing what needs to be done. She made jam, cooked meals, weeded flower beds, and whatever the present moment called for.

And then there were the 'mean' card and board games to sharpen our minds. The entire staff says, "Thanks, Sisters."

Roof Repairs

Roof Repair Funded Through
Catholic Foundation of Jackson

August 1 The Dwelling Place received a $2000 grant from the Catholic Foundation of the Diocese of Jackson for roof repair on the dining room. $1150 was awarded from the Catherine Goetz Gill Trust and $850 from the Foundations General Purposes Trust. We are so grateful for the support of the Foundation for our ministry here.

No, this is not our rooftop swimming pool [photo at the right]! This is Mary's latest attempt to keep the kitchen/dining room roof from leaking and the ceiling dry. Tarps anchored by bricks placed end on end is very effective though it may not be aesthetically pleasing. This is just one example of WHY we need a better facility. We are grateful to the foundation for their grant.

Many Thanks to . . .

Clare's Corner

So what's been happening with the Capital Campaign?

We are so grateful to you, our donors, as you continue to fulfill your pledges. Know that we pray for you and yours in our daily prayer. Thus far we have $225,499 pledged and to date have received donations of $36,934 bringing our grand total to $262,433.00.

Our corporation committee has contacted over 40 businesses in the area. We are grateful to those corporations who either gave us a donation or offered in-kind gifts specific to their business.

We heard from most of the corporations that the climate for profit is not good these days and, therefore, were unable to assist us. We pray that their businesses prosper. We pray, also, that they see what God is doing through The Dwelling Place and will want to be involved.

We are also grateful to all our volunteers who have put themselves on the line for us. We pray that all of you who have been contacted either in person or through a letter about our need and dream for a new administration-kitchen/dining building will consider how you might be part of the ongoing and future ministry here. God is so present and active. He needs all our hands.

We were hoping that our new building would go up before we would need to repair the roof on the old trailer/lean-to. Plastic tarps and bricks are somewhat effective. We try to be good stewards of the property God has provided for us. The trailer is over 40 years old and though we continue to keep it in repair, we are always aware of its fragility.

Our new building is a necessity, not a luxury. We are grateful to the Catholic Foundation for assisting us in part of the cost of the roof repair.

Grant Writing

Morag has written several grants to supplement our income for operating expenses and the building fund but to date, most have been denied. To hone her grant writing skills, she has taken a course on-line through M U W titled "Grant Writing A to Z".


Since our building fund will need additional funding from philanthropic foundations, this course gives new impetus to her efforts. It has provided her with valuable insights and a sense of confidence in her understanding of grant writing procedure.



December 1, 2005 Vol. 19, No. 4

Dear Friends,

The world has changed since our last letter. Indescribable suffering - and outpourings of self sacrifice and generosity have filled our lives.

We are so grateful that the only damage here was to the trees and the loss of roof shingles on Maria, Clare Houses, Umbria, and the chapel.

Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone whose lives have been devastated by wind, water, or earthquake.

Clare, Mary, Morag, and Sheila

In the fragility of our Saviour's birth comes the Christmas promise of hope that speaks to the parts of us that are limited and uncertain. Emmanuel. God is with us still.

Blessings of peace from us all.

Many Thanks to--

"Round and About"

The Lord protected us from major damage - not only in the wrath of Katrina but in the early visit of the Terminex inspector who alerted us to a leak under the administration trailer.

Wish List

Other repairs were to the main water line into the property and even as this is being typed Wheeler Roofing is working on the roof repairs from the storm damage.

Due to a very tight cash flow, we have had to let our housekeeper go and cut back the hours for our yardman. Volunteers are helping us through this 'slim' time.

Vera and Clarissa Parker


Dust and mildew beware! We have been blessed by the willing hands and generous hearts of Vera and Clarissa Parker, evacuees from New Orleans who, while staying in Macon, helped us sort the library shelves, clean the outside furniture, and rake up pinestraw. Blessings on your new home in Texas, Clarissa and Vera.

Elizabeth and Joe Haftek continue to enrich the ministry here as they have done so many times over the last nearly 20 years. Elizabeth has been helping Mary clean and paint, and Joe watersealed the roof of the administration trailer.

Another generous heart belongs to Pam Sullivan who helped Mary with the seemingly endless raking that is needed at this time of year.

Special thanks to Dr. Francis Baird and Sr. Paulinus Oakes who both donated their expertise in leading retreats this fall.

And last but not least, our faithful friends at The Pines and Cadyhill who came out after Katrina and worked for two days helping us to create order and beauty out of chaos.

(l to r standing) May Lipe Mintz, Mary Crone, and Tom Hannigan. (seated) Joan Bartik, Diana Bridges, and Ethel Michener.

Our Advisory Board

Last December, Morag and Clare attended a workshop in Des Plaines, Illinois, for administrators of retreat centers. At one of the sessions at this workshop, which was convened by Retreats International, there was a breakout session on Advisory Boards.

One line from that incredibly rich session has stuck throughout the year. "What do they know that you don't know?"

Our Dwelling Place Advisory Board is comprised of a wealth of expertise and hearts that are both generous and committed to the ministry of The Dwelling Place.

On October 16th, advisory board members met with the Corporation Board for a day of visioning and planning. They assist us in Finance/fundraising, Public Relations/Marketing, Grants/Program Development, and Facility/Building Committees.

Library Perils
[or sometimes bad things
happen to good books]

Do you have a spare copy of any of the following? These have not been returned:

Christ, our Light
Christ be our north, our south,
our east, our west.
Christ be the love in our hearts,
the thought in our minds,
the voice in our ears,
the song on our lips.
Christ be our North Star, our Southern Cross,
our morning sun, our evening star.
Christ be our light.

From the Kitchen

When you register for a retreat, please let us know if you have any food allergies or if you are a vegetarian -- even if you have told us in the past, notify us each retreat, please! Thanks.