STONEVILLE, N.C. — The community of St. Francis Springs Prayer Center is marking its 10th anniversary with a celebration on May 31. Director Louis Canino, OFM, and his staff invite friars and others to attend the Sunday evening event, which will include tours, entertainment, a silent auction and a buffet dinner.
“It should be a fun and memorable celebration,” said Louis. His idea was the basis for the creation of the center a decade ago.
Over the past 10 years, “more than one dream has unfolded” at St. Francis Springs, according to the anniversary celebration invitation. The center has been a place where:
- Broken hearts have been mended
- The spark of the divine has been ignited for those struggling in their faith
- Greater unity has been realized among those espousing different creeds
Features of Prayer Center
Located in central North Carolina roughly 30 miles north of Greensboro, the center opened in February 2005 and offers visitors a venue for both individual retreats and group gatherings.
St. Francis Springs offers indoor and outdoor facilities on 140 acres. Its 18 bedrooms — each with a private bath — can accommodate up to 40 guests, according to its website. The center also has four conference rooms for both small and large gatherings, and a chapel that can accommodate up to 100 people. “The chapel has large windows overlooking the woods allowing the beauty of nature to enhance the spiritual experience,” according to the center’s website. “Its unique lighting creates a peaceful and reflective atmosphere especially for evening prayers and meditations.”
Through the years, St. Francis Springs has added facilities and amenities. In 2013, the outdoor San Damiano Chapel was built, and last year, three hermitages as well as a labyrinth and a Marian garden were created and blessed.
Since its opening, the interfaith center has provided space for a variety of events; some are organized by St. Francis Springs and others are organized by outside groups. Among programs being offered this year by the center are a silent retreat in June, an icon workshop in July, a justice and peace program in August, and a Transitus service in October. In February, the center held its first commemoration of Black History Month through the initiative of David Hyman, OFM. Many Province-related events have been held at St. Francis Springs, including the friars’ fraternal gatherings and the Office of JPIC’s local contacts retreats.
Over the last decade, the center has hosted almost every religious denomination, said Ann Bauer, assistant director. “In addition, we have hosted civic groups, along with hospital and college boards. Also, businesses such as financial institutions have held staff retreats at the center.”
Through the years, Louis has seen the impact the center has had on volunteers and visitors alike. He said in an article in The Anthonian magazine in 2007, “I am so edified and inspired by numerous volunteers and their hard work. They energize me. I’m also elated to see the dynamics of what happens to individuals and groups who come here.”
A Friar’s Dream
Creating a prayer and retreat enter had been a longtime goal of Louis.
In a profile written about Louis when he commemorated 50 years as a friar, he said that opening the prayer center was the fulfillment of a dream.
“I learned that God’s plan and our time and God’s time are different. I wanted to do this for years, and God told me when the time was right,” said the Syracuse, N.Y., native in HNP Today.
“The best part of the ministry is the timing of a retreat center,” added Louis. “I think, at this time in the history of the Church and the world, this is probably one of the Holy Name’s most important ministries. We believe everyone has a contemplative bent; it’s one of the most undeveloped and undernourished gifts. We nourish that.”
Information about the center, along with photos, can be found on its website and Facebook page. A video shows scenes of the center and describes its key objective — promoting spiritual growth through meditation and prayer.
Those planning to attend next month’s celebration are asked to RSVP by May 24 by phoning the center at 336-573-3751 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.