Rooted in Gospel values and the charism of Catherine McAuley, Mount Saint Mary House of Prayer is a spiritual center dedicated to nourishing adult spiritual growth in an atmosphere of hospitality and prayer. Sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Community of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, the House of Prayer welcomes persons of all faiths to retreats, spiritual direction and a variety of programs and opportunities for holistic growth.
Mount Saint Mary House of Prayer was instituted as a sponsored work of the Sisters of Mercy in 1976 with a core group of four Sisters of Mercy – Sisters Edwarda Barry, Theresina Flannery, Mary Jo Kearns, and Margaret Mary Kelly – as founding members.
Initially, the challenge of these founding sisters was to identify a site for the House of Prayer. Once the former carriage house/stable of Mount Saint Mary was determined to be this site, basic renovations were done on the second floor for the Sisters’ living space.
During this time, the Sisters began to conduct programs on prayer and spirituality in the neighboring parishes where they encountered lay people eager to volunteer and assist in the renovation of the house.
From 1978 to 1982, with the loving labor of many volunteers under the direction of Mr. Robert Scarano, the entire house was transformed from a carriage house and barn into the present House of Prayer. When the work was completed, this “Oasis off Route 22” included a simple, awe-inspiring chapel, a meeting room, a lending library, an office, and seven bedrooms for retreatants and basic living quarters for the co-directors.
Both Sisters Edwarda Barry and Margaret Mary Kelly left the ministry in 1978 and in 1980 Sister Eileen Smith joined the remaining two co-founders. These three Sisters: Sister Theresina Flannery, Mary Jo Kearns, and Eileen Smith have continued to direct the ministry at Mount Saint Mary House of Prayer to this day. In 2012, Sister Laura Arvin, OP joined the team as a co-director, while Sister Theresina ministers part-time.
Just as Mount Saint Mary House of Prayer became a physical reality stone by stone during its initial years of renovation, the people who have graced the house with their prayers, presence and financial support have become the “Living Stones,” and these living stones have helped create a spirit of peace that pervades the house.
The ministry of the House of Prayer has grown and flourished since its inception, welcoming thousands of people to participate in the program offerings and retreats given at the House of Prayer and to enjoy the beauty and quiet of its environment.
Besides offering on-going spiritual direction to individuals, some of the diverse programs offered through the years are: contemplative prayer, retreat days for Catholic School teachers, grief recovery, reverencing the Earth, Scripture, and holistic spirituality. A significant offering, the weekly Eucharistic Hour, invites all to remember the power and blessings of prayer.
Mount Saint Mary House of Prayer stands as a haven for those seeking God, peace, and meaning in their lives.