Public invited to tour Diocese of Peoria’s new Sacré-Coeur Retreat Center Aug. 1

The new Sacré-Coeur Retreat Center in Magnolia remained a construction zone this week as final preparations were made for an open house on Sunday afternoon, Aug. 1, and the welcoming of the first groups to utilize the new complex. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

MAGNOLIA — Catholics making summer travel plans would do well to pencil in Sunday, Aug. 1, for a road trip to see a diocesan dream realized.

The new Sacré-Coeur Retreat Center, whose construction has been hidden from public view by the wooded Illinois River bluff on which it was built, will host an open house from 2 to 5 p.m. that day. And all are invited.

One of two large exterior crosses is seen above the fourth floor of the guest room building at Sacré-Coeur Retreat Center. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

“It’s open to anybody and everybody that wants to come and walk through,” said Deacon Terry Stalsberg, executive director of the new, modern complex built on the site of the former Nazareth House/King’s House near Magnolia and Henry in Putnam County.

Sacré-Coeur Retreat Center features 70 guest rooms in a four-story structure, a conference center and dining hall, and two chapels, including a main Chapel of the Sacred Heart.

“YOU HAVE TO SEE IT IN PERSON”

“Pictures really don’t do it justice,” said Deacon Stalsberg. “You have to see it in person to get the ‘awe effect,’” he added, including the 40-foot ceiling in the chapel, the stonework and woodwork, an enlarged, two-level pond, and more.

“Seeing the diocesan crest at the end of the hall as you come in will be breathtaking,” he promised.

It is difficult to find words to describe the scope of the change, said Sister Laura Garcia, one of three Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary who will be on staff.

“For those who knew the place before, they will be astounded,” said Sister Laura, who worked at the former Nazareth House and will be dining service supervisor at Sacré-Coeur Retreat Center. She and the other Sisters on staff — including Sister Ana Pia Cordua, operations supervisor, and Sister Catherine Grace, housekeeping supervisor — will be among those giving tours during the open house.

In addition, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, and Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka are expected to be present. Seminarians of the Diocese of Peoria will also be on hand as they will be the first to utilize the complex for a retreat starting that evening.

A ribbon cutting and blessing ceremony is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Light refreshments will be available throughout the afternoon. No RSVP is required.

DIRECTIONS AND MORE

The library at the Sacré-Coeur Retreat Center will be named for Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

The retreat center remained a construction zone this week as finishing touches were being completed. Landscaping work will continue after the open house, for example, and the smaller chapel is not yet ready.

But there will be plenty to see, including the Solitude of the Sacred Heart, a small hermitage for individual retreatants within walking distance of the main complex.

“The idea is to get the word out that we’re here and we’re open for business now,” said Deacon Stalsberg of the open house. But he already is getting calls nearly daily from groups looking to schedule retreats.

For those coming to the open house, the retreat center’s address is 8508 County Road 100 N., Magnolia IL 61336. Access is off Route 18 via Country Road 100N, and signs will direct you to the center.

More information is available at scretreatcenter.org. Additional coverage on the retreat center is planned for the next two issues of The Catholic Post.

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