Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

SabbathSpace offers gathering place for study, prayer, growth

Story and photo by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff

(From the Dec. 18, 2003 edition of the Inland Register)

Sister Janyce Bouta SNJMHoly Names Sister Janyce Bouta is director of SNJM SabbathSpace. (IR photo)

The two-story brick home at 4324 N. Jefferson in Spokane was once a bustling convent, filled with Sisters of the Holy Names. The Sisters, who at one time occupied the convent’s 13 bedrooms, taught at the now-closed St. Francis of Assisi School to the north, just across Heroy Street.

There are fewer Sisters living in the convent today, but the building continues to bustle with activity. The Sisters have turned their home into “SNJM Sabbath Space,” a place where people can come and find a quiet place in their busy lives “to step into God’s time,” said Holy Names Sister Janyce Bouta (pronounced Bu-tay).

Sister Janyce is director of SNJM Sabbath Space, overseeing activities with two team members: Sally Duffy, an SNJM Associate, and Holy Names Sister Betty McLellan.

The Holy Names Sisters have been studying the use of the houses they own and pondered what to do with the convent. They had several ideas, but “nothing seemed to fit,” Sister Janyce said.

One important factor was that the Sisters wanted to maintain a presence in St. Francis of Assisi Parish and in their quiet neighborhood. “We’ve been here 70 years,” she said.

What finally emerged was an idea to offer the convent for a “two-pronged approach,” to allow space and time for prayer, reflection and quiet, and then also for education, which has been the traditional thrust of the Holy Names Sisters’ mission. “We would like to see people gather for study, to help them make changes in the world by changing their own lives,” said Sister Janyce.

What the Holy Names community envisions is that people will use SNJM Sabbath Space as a place for adult enrichment, education, and spiritual development. The Sisters have an extensive library of spiritual and other works, along with a collection of videos that guests may use while at SNJM Sabbath Space.

Some activities are already held at the facility. There are offerings such as Peaceful Fridays, “a day of quiet open to all” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; “Savoring the Sabbath, Lectio Divina” on the first Sunday of each month; Wisdomworks; and Reflection Circles. Several Sisters also use SNJM Sabbath Space to give spiritual direction.

People who want to use the facility can come on their own or bring a group. They can stay for a day or, after the first of the year, stay overnight.

Since the Sisters live in the building, Sister Janyce said they were still working out details of how they will share the space with members of the public. Since the building is large, the front part of the convent will be used for guests and the back part of the convent for the resident Sisters.

There is also a large dining room with kitchen; a family-style room in the basement can be used for larger study groups. They can’t be too large, said Sister Janyce. “About 10 or 15 people is the maximum,” she said.

The Sisters held an open house Oct. 11 for their official start date. Letters about SNJM Sabbath Space were sent to neighboring parishes and also to businesses in the area. “There seems to be more interest (in the facility) than we thought,” Sister Janyce said.

That interest is not surprising, though. Sister Janyce said there is “a need, even a hunger, for spirituality these days” that SNJM Sabbath Space can help meet. “We want to invite people into that place of growth and wholeness, for their own exploration of religion and spirituality,” whatever that may be, she said. “We are open to all people who are searching.”

(Persons interested in SNJM Sabbath Space can call (509) 325-8642 or send an e-mail to Sister Janyce.

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