King’s House to be renamed ‘Nazareth’

Photo Caption: An aerial view of King’s House of Retreats in Henry, which will be renamed “Nazareth House” during ceremonies on Sept. 15.

HENRY — The diocesan retreat center here will be known as “Nazareth House” following a Mass of Renaming to be celebrated by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, on Sept. 15.

For nearly five decades, the center has borne the name of “Christ the King House of Retreats,” and was more commonly called King’s House.

The public is invited to the Mass of Renaming, which will take place at 1 p.m. that Tuesday and be concelebrated by priests from throughout the diocese. The Mass will be celebrated outdoors, weather permitting, and a reception will follow.

The new name has been chosen to reflect and represent the mission and identity of the retreat house under its current directorship. Since September last year, King’s House has been directed and staffed by five members of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary, a community of women religious based in Miami, Fla., and founded by Mother Adela Galindo.

“Words cannot express the gratitude we have for the dedication and commitment the sisters have shown in their service to our diocesan retreat center,” said Patricia Gibson, chancellor of the Diocese of Peoria. “We are happy they now play such an important role in our diocesan family.”

Mother Adela and her entire religious community, along with members of the lay branch of the Family of the Pierced Hearts, will join Bishop Jenky at the renaming ceremonies.

In addition, on the eve of the renaming Mother Adela and the sisters will lead a Night of Prayer and Spiritual Renewal, on Monday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m., in St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. The evening will include Mass and eucharistic adoration, with a worship and healing service.

During a recent visit of Mother Adela to King’s House, the sisters and Bishop Jenky discussed the possibility of changing the center’s name.

“After a year of praying, serving and placing their spiritual and human capacities to build this home,” the bishop wrote, “the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary, humbly and respectfully proposed to me, in accordance with my discernment, to re-name the retreat center,” the bishop wrote in a letter announcing the change.

“Mother did ask us, ‘How has your experience there made you understand the identity of the retreat center?” said Sister Juana Maria Sanchez, SCTJM, retreat center coordinator and superior of Holy Family Convent.

“The bishop said once that he considered the retreat house as kind of ‘the home of the diocese,” said Sister Juana. “That phrase of the bishop really appealed to us.”

The Christian model of home and family life is found in the life experiences of the Holy Family in Nazareth, she said.

After meeting and praying with Mother Adela and Sister Anna Lanzas, SCTJM, the community’s vicar general, Bishop Jenky decided “Nazareth House” would be a perfect emblem of the retreat center’s identity and mission — “to be a home and school of the life of the Holy Family and of the life of the Church, the Family of Jesus,” the bishop wrote.

Christ’s home in Nazareth, the bishop continued, “was a home and a path of love, hope, light and truth; a home and school of love, a place of intimacy and communion of the hearts of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.”

As the dwelling place of God Incarnate, Nazareth was “the place where Our Lady’s maternity was totally and freely lived and communicated,” said Bishop Jenky.

In their home could be found love, prayer, silence, the praise and the worship of God, pondering God’s word and listening to his will, the bishop said.

Signs bearing the new name are now being designed, according to Sister Juana. They will be put in place in time for the renaming.

Visitors on Sept. 15 will not notice any other changes to the retreat center, but around that time it is hoped that there will be a new Nazareth House Web site for people to visit on the Internet, said Sister Juana.

Currently the diocesan Web site includes a King’s House page, but the new site will have its own address. Among the ideas being considered, according to Sister Juana, is a feature that will allow retreatants to blog about their experiences at Nazareth House. Details will be announced at a later date.

Located atop a bluff on the east bank of the Illinois River four miles northeast of Henry and about 30 miles north of Peoria, King’s House has served tens of thousands of priests, religious and lay Catholics of the Diocese of Peoria over the course of the retreat center’s 46 years of history.

The center was built at a cost of $375,000 on the “Cloud 77” property of John Law. It was designed by Oblate Father J. Vincent Fitzgerald, a native of Mendota, and architect Hamilton Dox of Peoria as a one-story, 66-room complex, featuring a main entrance lounge, a 96-seat main chapel, 12 small Mass chapels, 34 double rooms and 32 single rooms.

Construction on the 46-acre site began in June of 1962 and was completed by January of 1963. The new center hosted its first event, a three-day retreat for married couples, on Jan. 18-20, 1963.

Bishop John B. Franz presided at blessing and dedication ceremonies on Aug. 22, 1963, and on the same day Msgr. George Dzuryo of Streator celebrated a Solemn Mass of Dedication in the center’s chapel.

The retreat center was built by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, and the Oblate Fathers directed the center for the next 33 years. The technical name for the center was “King’s House III,” because the Oblate Fathers already were conducting King’s House I in Belleville, and King’s House II in Buffalo, Minn.

The first staffers of the rural Henry center were Father Vincent Fitzgerald, OMI, director; Father A. Bruce McLean, OMI, retreat master; and Father Dennis F. McCarthy, OMI, promotional director, assisted by 11 Oblate Brothers.

In 1996, the Diocese of Peoria obtained the center from the Oblate Fathers. Deacon Fred Kruse and his wife Gail, from Des Plaines in the Archdiocese of Chicago, were hired as directors of King’s House, succeeding Father Wayne Like, OMI, the last Oblate Father to serve as director.

The Kruses served at King’s House for more than 12 years, retiring last fall. They were succeeded by the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary, led by Sister Juana, who is assisted by Sister Silvia M. Tarafa, Sister Sonia R. Mancuello, Sister Delia Morales Alvarez and Sister R. Isabel Romero.

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