Deacon Terry Stalsberg a perfect fit for Sacré-Coeur Retreat Center director

Deacon Terry Stalsberg is pictured with Sister Ana Pia Cordua, SCTJM, in a guest room hallway at the Sacré-Coeur Retreat Center construction site near Magnolia in Putnam County. Deacon Stalsberg, who lives in Metamora and serves parishes in Roanoke and Eureka, is the new executive director of the diocesan retreat center and Sister Ana Pia will be one of three Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary on staff. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

METAMORA — Use any modern or traditional job search method and try to come up with a better candidate to serve as executive director of the Diocese of Peoria’s new Sacré-Coeur Retreat Center than was found using none of the above.

“Sometimes God provides,” said Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka with a knowing smile in describing how Deacon Terry Stalsberg was hired last month.

As construction progressed this winter on the impressive facility at the site of the former Nazareth House near Magnolia, diocesan leaders knew it would take someone with experience to manage it.

In January, Phil Lee — director of the Office of Divine Worship — pointed out to Bishop Tylka that a permanent deacon who sometimes serves at St. Mary’s Cathedral as a pontifical deacon has a background in the hotel industry.

Deacon Stalsberg is pictured March 11 at the construction site of the Diocese of Peoria’s Sacré-Coeur Retreat Center. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

And an impressive resume it is. Deacon Stalsberg, who resides in Metamora and is deacon for the faith communities in Roanoke and Eureka, was then general manager of two Marriott hotels in Peoria — the Courtyard and Residence Inn. Since earning a degree in hospitality and tourism management from the University of Wisconsin-Stout, he has compiled 25 years of experience in the industry for about a dozen different hotel brands. From beginnings as a housekeeper or working the front desk, his career progressed to being an area manager overseeing multiple hotels.

Bishop Tylka invited Deacon Stalsberg to tour the Sacré-Coeur construction site near Magnolia. “His insights sold me on the fact he was someone we should talk to about serving as executive director,” said Bishop Tylka.

“A CALLING UPON A CALLING”

After “a lot of praying and discerning,” Deacon Stalsberg resigned his position with Marriott and agreed to bring his experience, and his faith, to the new position at Sacré-Coeur.

“It’s a calling upon a calling,” said Deacon Stalsberg. “I get to marry my diaconate and my career.”

Raised Lutheran, he met his wife Brenda in college. They married in 1999, he came into the church a year later, and took part in a Cursillo retreat in 2001.

“At that Cursillo a couple of things started lighting the (diaconate) flame for me,” he said, recalling the presence of a few deacons in formation. Soon after, at the funeral Mass for friend Deacon Bob Zimmerman in Coal Valley, he saw “a sea of deacons” and knew “I want to be a part of that.”

He was ordained in 2012. The Stalsbergs have one son, Jonathan, a high school sophomore, and will continue to reside in Metamora.

Deacon Stalsberg knows he has busy months ahead as construction is completed. He is already working to set pricing, establish budgets, write job descriptions, and will soon begin hiring housekeepers and serving staff. He is grateful to be in a job that blends his career and his faith.

The gratitude is two-way.

“He’s going to be a great asset to us in leading this retreat center,” said Bishop Tylka.

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