STONEVILLE, N.C. — On the feast of the Most Holy Trinity, more than 200 people gathered in northern North Carolina to celebrate the first decade of a prayer center that, in the words of its founder and director, is a “blessing beyond my wildest dreams and imagination.”
Patrons and volunteers joined friars at St. Francis Springs Prayer Center on May 31 for a prayer of praise service to mark the anniversary of the center that has welcomed thousands since its opening in the spring of 2005.
“Our tenth anniversary celebration was a joyous and memorable day,” said Louis Canino, OFM, founder and director. “With about 250 people attending the celebration, the only slight disappointment came toward the very end of the silent auction when torrential rains came. We were fortunate that our guests were protected by a large tent.”
“The anniversary program lasted around one hour and 20 minutes,” he added. “After an upbeat welcome and greeting by Ann Bauer, the center’s assistant director, David Hyman, OFM, gave a wonderful invocation. The entire program was interspersed with music and songs performed by the Westminster Presbyterian Church Worship Band.
“Fred Dilger, OFM, impressed everyone with his concluding remarks and blessing,” said Louis. “One of the high points of the event was our new video, which provides another opportunity to introduce St. Francis to those who are not familiar with his life.”
The anniversary event included tours, silent and live auctions, prayers and a meal.
In his reflection that Sunday evening, Louis said, “Every year, for 10 years, we have received hundreds of notes, cards, emails and comments from people telling us what the prayer center means to them.
Since 2005, St. Francis Springs has offered a place for reflection and a venue for gatherings. A variety of groups from around of the country have used the space, many reserving far ahead of the date they are meeting.
Louis said that the center cannot accommodate everyone who inquires about using the center because of high demand. “We have very few weekends open for this year and for 2016,” he noted.
For the staff at the prayer center, this has been a blessing a joy and a natural affirmation of their hard work, according to a story in the Catholic News Herald.
“Many people have said to me through the years that this is a sacred place and that it is so conducive to prayer,” said Louis. “The numbers of people who have come here and the number of people who say they’ve been overwhelmed with the beauty of the place are beyond comprehension.”
The program of last month’s celebration includes the center’s mission statement along with photos of sites on the center’s property that offer gift opportunities, such as the celestial gardens and brick memorials. It also provides the names of staff members, as well as the center’s board of directors, including Andrew Reitz, OFM.
— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.