At the beginning of this month I was pleased to join my Secular Franciscan Order brothers and sisters for a retreat at the Priestfield Pastoral Center in Kearneysville, West Virginia. This annual retreat was organized by the St. Margaret of Cortona Region of the Secular Franciscan Order which is a region that includes Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and parts of West Virginia and Pennsylvania. It was a true joy to be among so many Franciscans sharing a weekend in prayer, learning, and fellowship.
The Priestfield Pastoral Center is a facility with the Diocese of Charleston/Wheeling West Virginia and run by Director, Very Rev. William P. Linhares, T.O.R., V.F. With Father Bill being a Third Order Regular Franciscan, he has brought to the retreat center a unique Franciscan feel, that highlights the natural beauty of the land, its artwork, architecture, and Franciscan saints. The center came about through the donation of land to the Catholic Church which dates back to 1802 when Adam Livingston gave the church a 35 acre parcel of farmland; “a field to sustain a priest” for favors granted. There are many beautiful trails for prayer and contemplation that go through woods, fields, and by Opequon Creek.
Our retreat was led by Father Michael F. Cusato, O.F.M. who is an expert in Franciscan history in the Medieval Period. It was fascinating to hear him talk about the earliest period of the Franciscan Orders, and he motivates me to get his books and articles to know more about Francis, Clare, Bonaventure, brother Leo, and other early followers. Father Michael gave us new insight into the famous story about the wolf of Gubbio. Fr. Michael said that we should look at this story as an allegory where the wolf of gubbio actually represents the poor and unwanted in society, and that Francis was helping to teach the need to help the poor and live in peace.
The Priestfield Pastoral Center is great place for a retreat for individuals or groups. It is affordable, and offers great facilities and food. There is a large center that offers many comfortable rooms that have private baths, including a chapel, meeting rooms, library, dining hall, and many prayer nooks. The grounds offer many private areas with hammocks, swings, benches, ponds and gardens to take time for prayer and contemplation. I had the pleasure of staying in St. Kevin’s cabin, one of four hermitages on grounds. I highly recommend you take a retreat here when you have the opportunity–check their website link below.
Note: You can click on photos for a bigger view.