Saint Mary’s Place of Solitude and Prayer

Saint Mary’s Place of Solitude and Prayer is a diocesan hermitage in Canada where both men and women are welcomed to live the eremitic life.
hermitage canada 2
The hermits make a simple vow to live the eremitic life which has been a tradition in the Christian Community since third century.

The eremitic life:
• is rooted in the experience of being captivated by the Mystery and is a response to this experience.
• is a gift in and for the world.
• is solitary and simple.
• is a journey of interiority.

In 1958, Margaret MacKinnon willed her family property to the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. George’s, (now known as the Roman Catholic Diocese of Corner Brook and Labrador) to establish a monastic presence. In July 1990, to honor her desire, St. Mary’s Place of Solitude and Prayer was established.
st marys
Sheila O’Handley and Nick O’Keeffe have made public commitment in the Church to live the hermit life, supporting themselves through weaving, pottery, and gardening.
In the Fall of 2004, an Association of Friends of Saint Mary’s was established, consisting of individuals and couples who wished to support the contemplative ministry of the hermitage. In October 2005, the association became incorporated and is now legally known as Association of Friends of St. Mary’s Place of Solitude and Prayer Inc.

The vision of St Mary’s is:
To witness the primacy of the Sacred in all of life.
To create for guests an environment which is welcoming and nurturing.
To offer a limited ministry:
• Spiritual Direction
• Retreats
• Workshops for Spiritual Growth and Development
http://www.solitaryretreat.com/about_us.php

st mary's 2
St. Mary’s Place of Solitude and Prayer, in the Codroy Valley in southwestern Newfoundland, recently had extensive upgrading done on its residential buildings, thanks to the generosity of Catholic Missions In Canada. This work has made the buildings fully winterized.
The history of St. Mary’s goes back to 1958 when Margaret MacKinnon willed her family property to the Diocese of St. George’s (now the Diocese of Corner Brook and Labrador) to establish a monastic presence. In 1990, to honour her desire, St. Mary’s was established.
St. Mary’s recognizes the need for contemplative and spiritual reflection in the lives of all persons.
Two guest hermitages are available year-round for individuals, couples, and all who seek to listen to the heart in solitude and reflection in this peaceful and aesthetically beautiful setting. There are no community activities at St. Mary’s. If, however, a guest would wish to have some spiritual reflection, counseling, or a directed retreat with one of the hermits, this may be arranged. On the property, Sheila O’Handley and Nick O’Keeffe live the hermit life, supporting themselves through weaving, pottery and gardening.
http://www.cmic.info/Default.aspx?DN=50dcff61-3ea1-4e10-a3b6-c30340a08fda
nick
Nick O’Keeffe was ordained a priest in 1965; he served in Nigeria (1966-1975) and in Newfoundland (1975-1987). Nick holds degrees in the arts, philosophy and theology, a diploma in community development, and a masters in pastoral counseling.
From 1987 to 1989 Nick apprenticed to the Canadian potter Jack Ouellette at his studio in Arichat, Nova Scotia. Nick experienced a call to the hermit life in 1983. In 1989 his diocese in Newfoundland decided to establish a hermitage called Saint Mary’s Place of Solitude and Prayer and he has lived there ever since as a diocesan hermit supporting himself as a potter.
sheila
In 1958, Sheila O’Handley entered the Sisters of Saint Martha, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada. Having experienced a persistent call to the solitary life she came to Saint Mary’s Place of Solitude and Prayer, Doyles, Newfoundland, Canada, in 1993. She holds a Masters in Christian Community Development, a Masters of Divinity and a Bachelor of Sacred Theology. Sheila is a self taught weaver. she works with a variety of materials: cotton, silk, chenille, wool and linen; creating jackets, scarves, shawls , table and altar clothes, runners and so on.

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