Chicagoland

Retreat house has ministry to those recovering from addiction

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
September 19, 2018

Retreat house has ministry to those recovering from addiction

St. Mary’s Retreat House in Lemont, which has been offering respite for the faithful for over 50 years, is seeing new life as volunteers rehab the building and update amenities.
Accomodations are simple at St. Marys Retreat House at the Slovenian Catholic Mission, 14246 Main St., Lemont. (Karen Callaway /Chicago Catholic)
The lobby of St. Marys Retreat House at the Slovenian Catholic Mission, 14246 Main St., Lemont, was recently renovated. (Karen Callaway /Chicago Catholic)
The grounds of St. Mary's Retreat House feature outdoor stations of the cross. The house is at the Slovenian Catholic Mission, 14246 Main St., Lemont.(Karen Callaway /Chicago Catholic)
People making retreats at St. Mary’s Retreat House in Lemont can take advantage of the extensive grounds that include a small pond next to a Lourdes grotto and outdoor stations of the cross. (Karen Callaway /Chicago Catholic)
A rosary valley made from stone on the grounds of St. Mary's Retreat House at the Slovenian Catholic Mission, 14246 Main St., Lemont. (Karen Callaway /Chicago Catholic)

St. Mary’s Retreat House in Lemont, which has been offering respite for the faithful for over 50 years, is seeing new life as volunteers rehab the building and update amenities.

The house’s main group of retreatants come from members of Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon.

St. Mary’s, which is part of the Slovenian Catholic Mission, was built in 1950 as a center for pilgrimages from across the Midwest traveling there to venerate an image of Mary, Help of Christians, patroness of Europe that was installed in a small church by the Franciscan Fathers of the Holy Cross Commissariat in 1926.

The retreat house, located at 14246 Main St., sits on 130 acres of land that includes the monastery and church, a picnic area, outdoor stations of the cross, a Lourdes grotto and a rosary valley.

Deacon John Vidmar took over managing the retreat house three years ago on a volunteer basis when Franciscan Father Blase Chemazar, who was running it, fell ill and later died.

Vidmar soon enlisted the help of fellow deacons to fix up the house, which had sound construction but needed repairs to bring it up to code and overall maintenance. He has since received help from others as well.

Four groups of volunteers are helping renovate the building — those who go on or have been on retreats there, parishioners from the Slovenian Mission, members of the diaconate community called Hope Is on the Way and people who wander in to take a look at the grounds.

“This has kind of enlivened the parish,” Vidmar said, adding that some women from the parish who are seamstresses made new curtains for all of the building’s 80 windows. Men from the parish have volunteered for various tasks as well.

They save a lot of the materials and use them again in different ways.

“We tore all of the walls out in the center room to open it up and recycled all of the wood,” Vidmar said.

From recycled wood they’ve made items such as new tables and a cart to hold stacked metal chairs.

About 30 to 40 people at a time come on retreats and more than 1,000 people make retreats or days of reflection at the house each year. The house charges $140 for each person on the retreat, which includes catered meals.

All retreats are organized by outside groups. St. Mary’s just offers the space and food.

Retreatants’ rooms are located around the right and left of the house on two floors. Each room has a bed, table and sink. Bathrooms and showers are shared, but two rooms for retreat facilitators have bathrooms en suite. Volunteers are raising money to install an elevator.

At one time, the center was used as the basketball court and gym for the now-closed Mount Assisi Academy and the Franciscan seminary. The court markings are still on the floor of the first level.

People in recovery started having retreats at St. Mary’s after Franciscan Father Dan Sedlak got sober through Alcoholics Anonymous and started suggesting others in recovery come for retreats.

“The people tell me it’s the simpleness of this place that helps them refocus and redirect,” Vidmar said. “There are no distractions here.”

For information about the retreat house, call 630-257-5102.

Topics:

  • retreat

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