Home | About Us | Subscriptions | Advertising | El Centinela
Catholic Sentinel | Portland, OR Wednesday, February 10, 2016
CYO Football 2015 2015 Priest Reassignments, Archdiocese of Portland Cardinal Francis George dies Mothering with faith Sisters of the Holy Names, 2015 Live Nativity at St. John the Baptist 2014 Fall CYO results Catholic Charities Donor Lunch 2014 Year of Consecrated Life opening Mass Holy Spirit Sisters Jubilee 2014 Seaside youth conference Mount Angel 125th Northwest Hub Furlow at papal Mass 2014 Rosary Bowl NW Brother André 2014 Fall 40 Days for Life 2014 Inauguration of Fr. Mark Poorman Coffee shop at abbey First day of school, 2014 Regis High School 50th anniversary 2014 Crooked Finger Pilgrimage Mass with migrant farm workers Maronite Ordination Consecration to "Immaculate Heart of Our Lady of Fatima" CYO track Southern Oregon Evangelization 2014 Priest Ordination Christ the King youth 2014 priest reassignments Our Lady of Lavang Confirmation, 2014 Memorial Day 2014 2014 Transitional deacon ordination Padre Foster Granados visits Albany Bishop Smith ordination Canonization of Pope John Paul II, Pope John XXIII Bishop Peter Smith 2014 Easter Vigil 2014 Walk of Cross 2014 Chrism Mass CYO basketball 2014 St. Patrick of the Forest 150th Catholic Charities Celebration of Hope, 2014 Boys2Men Archbishop visits Oregon State Penitentiary 40 Day Vigil for Life, 2014 Pope Francis creates new cardinals St. Henry shelter 2014 CYO swimming Funeral of Fr. George Wolf Travel on a budget Lunar New Year, 2014 Tech in Catholic schools 2014 Right to Life Rally Archbishop visits Santiam Prison First Mass in Oregon Milwaukie Posada St. Francis, Sherwood, Toy Drive Central Catholic football Typhoon Haiyan Deacon Ordination/ Kresbach, Schmitt A Catholic fisherman St. Cecilia Centennial Southern Oregon Welcome Mass Shepherd of the Valley, Central Point, dedication Grotto Anniversary 2013 Champions of Faith Dinner Gardenripe farms Coleman hop farm Corvallis Year of Faith Archbishop Howard at St. Rose Hitchhiking priests Franciscan Spiritual Center Sacred Heart, Medford Migrant Mass Tanzanians' jubilee World Youth Day 2013 2013 Blessing of the Animals 2013 Freedom Mass Albany school closure Fabric art Megan graduates from Catholic school St. Vincent de Paul Hillsboro 2013 Deacon ordination Sister Theresa Lamkin St. Helen Mission, Brownsville Marist Brainiacs St. Mary, Eugene St. Francis eighth graders Ascension confirmation 2013 Pastoral Ministry Conference St. Joseph Salem — Year of Faith Archbishop Sample's Installation Mass 2013 Archbishop Sample Chrism Mass 2013 2013 Young Catholics Pope Francis inauguration Celebration of Hope Vlazny Farewell Mass Archbishop Vlazny Farewell St. Paul Church in St. Paul Valley Catholic Green Building Rite of Election 2013 Water summit 2013 Lunar New Year Alveda King in Eugene New Monsignors, 2013 2013 Right to Life Rally MLK Mass, 2013 St. Henry, Gresham, Centennial Jesuit High drama School uniforms Friar in the mall Holy Trinity food ministry January Book Covers St. Andre Bessette food Year of Faith Mass Nestucca Sanctuary Hillsboro Choirs Father Betschart installation Salem Religious Freedom Rally Year of Faith Vespers, Awards Roy's Catholic School Adelante Mujeres 10th anniversary New Blanchet House Missionaries of Holy Spirit Priest, religious photos Providence Nursing Schools Pioneros Fortnight for Freedom Mark Bentz Deacon Ordination OLL School Walk Through Gaga over science St. Philip Neri Centennial Ordination of Bishop Cary SVDP, Grants Pass Holy Cross School centennial Confirmation - Mount Angel Holy Land Pilgrimage Blanchet Watershed Chrism Mass, 2012 Bishop-designate Cary Pope in Cuba, 2012 SSMO 125th Jubilee Mass Pope Benedict in Mexico 2012 Catholic Charities Celebration 2012 Madeleine Mardi Gras Centennial Rally for Life, 2012 Martin Luther King Jr. Mass 2012 Day Laborers-Guadalupe Guadalupe 2011 Christ the King, Milwaukie, 50th Sesame Doughnuts Central Catholic Volleyball St. Peter Centennial Deacon Ordination, October 2011 St. Agatha Centennial Rosary Bowl 2011 St. Wenceslaus, Scappoose, Centennial Filipino celebration Polish Festival 2011 Holy War Football 2011 World Youth Day 2011 Sun Gold Farm Our Lady of Victory's New Church Freedom Mass 2011 St. Mary Church Steeple Removal Priest reassignments, 2011 Old Catholic Buildings Paige Rice, St. Mary's runner Graduation 2011 Easter vigils 2011 Pastoral Ministry Conference Basketball Holy War 2011 Search for Peace 2011

Holy Redeemer Open House 2016

Home : News : Local
8/19/2013 10:18:00 AM
Former SSMO convent now a spirituality center
Catholic Sentinel photo by Ed Langlois
Art by Carolyn Wilhelm frames room where she gives spiritual direction.  
Catholic Sentinel photo by Ed Langlois
Art by Carolyn Wilhelm frames room where she gives spiritual direction.  

+ view more photos
Mary Erickson shows one of the bedrooms available for guests at Franciscan Spiritual Center in Milwaukie.  

Ed Langlois
Of the Catholic Sentinel

MILWAUKIE — A homey, rambling, century-old convent has become a house of spirituality open to the public. Among many ministries, the Franciscan Spiritual Center here welcomes overnight guests.

In March, the center relocated from an office park to the grounds of St. John the Baptist Parish here. The convent housed the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon for decades and more recently the Sisters of Mercy.  

Two bedrooms offered for overnight retreatants are the first available on Portland’s east side of a Catholic kind since Loyola Retreat House shut its doors in 1997. The center is already known for one-on-one spiritual direction and group sessions on prayer, marriage, catechesis, health, and the relation of art and spirituality. Staff go to parishes to lead retreats and give workshops in English and Spanish.

The center, sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, had hit a financial impasse early this year. Rent at the office park the ministry had occupied since 2005 had become too high. Leaders of the Sisters in Pennsylvania told managers to reduce costs or face possible closure. Just in time, the old convent became available for a quarter of the rent and just as much room.

Staff and visitors laud the home-like feeling of the house, a change from the office building that sat just off a highway and above a busy kidney dialysis clinic. By contrast, the new center is in a tree-lined neighborhood near Milwaukie’s old downtown.

“This place is a great gift,” says Mary Erickson, executive director. “It’s much more reflective of the Franciscan charism.”

St. John the Baptist Parishhas become a hub of Franciscan life and ministry. Friars have served here for a year. It was Franciscan Father Jorge Hernandez who invited the spirituality center to move in.

The Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia have served in Oregon since the 1880s, when they began opening schools and hospitals. In the early 1940s, the Sisters received a mansion on Portland’s Palatine Hill and used it as a convent and western headquarters. In 1980, it became a retreat center. With maintenance costs getting out of hand, the Sisters sold the building to Lewis and Clark College in 2000 and opted for a series of smaller sites in bustling parts of Milwaukie. Then the convent became available.

It was renovated in 1990s for the Sisters of Mercy and includes new hardwood floors, white paint and arched entry ways. Records show that at mid-century it was home to as many as 22 Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon.

Franciscan Sister Mary Jo Chaves has served in the local spiritual ministry since 1996. This native of Baker City offers spiritual direction to about 40 people per month, including some hundreds of miles away on the phone or over email. Most directees sit with her in a bright corner bedroom upstairs.

“This house is a place that was already sacred,” Sister Mary Jo says. “You can feel it. This lends itself to what our ministry is — to be a place of beauty and contemplation.”

Overnight stays cost $85. Guests must bring their own food and are welcome to use the kitchen. They can keep to themselves or get spiritual direction.

The center is adjacent to the grassy playground of St. John the Baptist School. When children are not playing there, geese often use the field to rest. Center staff have named one solitary goose “Bonaventure” after the brilliant and solitude-loving Franciscan saint.

The parish and the spirituality center exist in mutual benefit. For example, staff last week offered a retreat on St. Francis and St. Clare at the parish. Soon, Sister Guadalupe Medina, who oversees Spanish-language ministries, will speak to families about quinceaneras, the popular rites for 15-year-old girls.

“People who have come say this is special, that it feels like home,” Sister Guadalupe says.   

The Archdiocese of Portland in July approved a plan to have the Eucharist on reserve in the chapel, a place consecrated for such use during the convent days.

“The new place gives deeper meaning for many of the patrons,” says Joan Haack, a member of the center’s board. “The previous facility was nice and new and modern, and therefore not very Franciscan. The house has space for people to feel more at home, more in their living room.”



Advanced Search






Mary Jo Tully ~ The Path to Resurrection

News | Viewpoints | Faith & Spirituality | Parish and School Life | Entertainment | Obituaries | Find Churches and Schools | About Us | Subscriptions | Advertising
E-Newsletter | RSS Feeds

© 2016 Catholic Sentinel, a service of Oregon Catholic Press

Software © 1998-2016 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved