Building home at King’s House

Photo Caption: Enjoying the unseasonably warm weather at King’s House in Henry are (from left) Sister Isabel Romero, Sister Juana Maria Sanchez, Sister Sonia Mancuello and Sister Silvia Tarafa.

By: By Jennifer Willems

HENRY — Good news travels fast, especially when prayers are being answered.

That’s how the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary made their way from Florida to the King’s House of Retreats in rural Henry to establish their first house outside of the Archdiocese of Miami.

“It happened over a conversation with Father Ryan Bredemeyer in Rome,” said Father Stanley Deptula, director of the diocesan Office of Divine Worship and executive director of the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Cause. “He had known the community for several years and suggested them as a possibility for King’s House. I told the bishop and he said, ‘Let’s do it!'”

A new presence was needed at the diocesan retreat center because Deacon Fred and Gail Kruse, who had managed it for 12 years, were retiring. Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, met with Mother Adela Galindo, SCTJM, foundress of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary, in June for prayer and discernment, and the Diocese of Peoria welcomed four members of her community on Sept. 15.

Sister Juana Maria Sanchez, SCTJM, is serving as the coordinator of King’s House and superior of the new Holy Family Convent that has been established in the house there. Working with her are Sister Silvia Tarafa, SCTJM, in guest services; Sister Sonia Mancuello, SCTJM, in housekeeping; and Sister Isabel Romero, SCTJM, in food services.

Sister Sonia also serves as sacristan for the chapel.

Mother Adela told The Catholic Post that the key to her discernment was Bishop Jenky’s obvious love for King’s House and his desire that it be a spiritual home for everyone in the Diocese of Peoria.

“I told him, ‘Bishop I really believe we could make it a home where all the ministries and apostolates can feel received and where we can communicate the heart of the church,'” she said by telephone from the motherhouse in Coral Gables, Fla., this week.

“I felt it was the beating heart of the diocese and that we could make it a home for all the groups of the diocese. He was so open to that proposal,” Mother Adela said. “We want it to be a place where everybody feels received in the heart of the church and where the heart of the church can be communicated.”

“All for the heart of Jesus through the heart of Mary” is the community’s motto and Sister Juana Maria said their charism is “to be the Marian heart that sustains the Petrine heart — the heart of the church.”

“We are to bring people to the hearts of Jesus and Mary,” Sister Juana Maria told The Post during a visit to King’s House last weekend. “We are an apostolic community, but there is no single form of apostolate.”

In addition to retreat work, the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary have been involved in religious formation, pastoral care in hospitals, leading prayer groups, giving conferences and talks and taking people on pilgrimages to the “heart of the church” in Rome and Europe.

While they came to the Diocese of Peoria to minister at King’s House, Sister Juana Maria said they hope to make themselves available to parishes around central Illinois as needed. They would also like to expand the programming at the retreat center by offering retreats themselves, welcoming youth for Masses, and hosting family days, as well as opening the center’s doors for days of prayer and rest.

“There are so many possibilities,” she said. “We are happy to be here and anxious to get started.”

Bishop Jenky isn’t the only one who has expressed his joy at their arrival, Sister Juana Maria said.

“The people here have been so receptive and loving,” she told The Post. “We have been told that Midwesterners are warm and it’s so true. That motivates us to do even more.”

She added that many people have told them of their love for King’s House and “we just want to enhance that.”

They’ve had help.

Permanent deacons and their wives from around the diocese, led by Deacon Nick Simon of St. Anthony’s Parish in Atkinson and coordinator of the ordained deacon community, said they met the Sisters during their annual retreat the first weekend in October and agreed to help in whatever way they could.

Last Saturday the common room at King’s House got a new coat of paint from Deacon Simon and his wife, Norma, Deacon John Holevoet of St. John’s in Woodhull and St. John’s in Galva; Deacon Larry and Audrey Honzel of St. Malachy’s in Geneseo; and Deacon Al and Daphne Angelo of St. Patrick’s, Colona.

On a previous weekend they were joined by Deacon Rod and Lee Gray of Immaculate Heart of Mary, Galesburg, and Deacon Michael An and Deacon Jim Gore, both of Epiphany Parish, Normal. That visit involved clearing trees from the convent roof, hanging blinds, and removing carpet in the basement and scraping the floor to make way for a chapel.

“All our convents have the presence of the Lord, our spouse,” Sister Juana Maria said. “That will make our house a home.”

Father Jeffrey Stirniman, executive director of King’s House and pastor of St. Louis Parish in Princeton, said the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary are a good fit for the Diocese of Peoria.

“The willingness on the part of the Sisters to try something quite different was edifying,” he said. “To run a retreat center takes a lot of flexibility and innovation and willing spirit. That was appealing as well — their willingness and humble reliance on Holy Spirit.”

“We were received by a family and we want to give a home for the family of the Diocese of Peoria,” Mother Adela said. “We want to make a house at the retreat center for all the family of the church.”

Father Bredemeyer, who studied for the priesthood at the North American College in Rome and now serves as parochial vicar at St. Jude’s Parish in Peoria and chaplain at Peoria Notre Dame High School, also said pairing the community with the Diocese of Peoria was like bringing two families together.

Overjoyed at the result of his simple recommendation, he said, “It was a seed I wasn’t even intending to plant.”

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