Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
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Kairos House of Prayer specializes in meditative, contemplative retreats
Story and photo by Mitch Finley, Inland Register staff
(From the July 29, 2010 edition of the Inland Register)
From left: Sister Florence Leone of the Franciscan Sisters of Philadelphia and Rita Beaulieu staff Kairos House of Prayer, north of Spokane. (IR photo)
In 1971, Franciscan Sister of Philadelphia Florence Leone was living in Portland, Ore. For many years she had been a teacher in her community’s various schools. About this time, however, she began to discern a call to a ministry that would give busy people an opportunity to experience a prayerful, contemplative environment, exclusively.
With her provincial superior’s support, Sister Florence participated in a house of prayer program in Detroit, and then helped begin the Still Point House of Prayer in upstate New York. She returned to the Pacific Northwest, and at an invitation from Msgr. David Rosage, then director of Immaculate Heart Retreat Center, she established Kairos House of Prayer in a brick house on the grounds of the retreat center.
Eventually, a search led to the discovery of a house and barn on property north of Spokane, off Wandermere Road.
“The House of Prayer idea was kind of a new concept in the western part of the country,” Sister Florence said. During a meeting with Jesuit Father Armand Nigro and Spokane’s Bishop Bernard Topel, the bishop “encouraged us to pursue the idea of establishing a house of prayer in the diocese.
“So this place came up for sale, and I took Father Nigro out to look at the property. He climbed the hill and looked around, and he said, ‘We must have this for Kairos.’”
For some 38 years, Sister Florence has been at the helm of Kairos, on a hilltop about 11.5 miles north of downtown Spokane, on 27 acres of forested hills and lush meadows. Staffed by Sister Florence and only one other person, Rita Beaulieu, who arrived from Canada about 20 years ago, Kairos offers a contemplative setting for those who want to nourish a deeper, more prayerful faith. Today, the facility includes nine private rooms, seven hermitages, and a large chapel-prayer room in the house.
Sister Florence said that she and Rita make no special effort to attract more people to Kairos, as they are about as busy as they want to be with the groups and individuals that arrive regularly with no advertising or public relations activities. Still, as space allows, the two women are always happy to welcome anyone wanting to take advantage of the contemplative environment available at Kairos.
They only host groups engaged in “meditative, contemplative prayer,” Sister Florence said. “We can take groups up to 16 people. It’s all about silence and solitude here.”
Kairos is neither a ministry of Sister Florence’s community, the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, nor of the Diocese of Spokane. It is independently incorporated and survives entirely on donations from friends and guests. No time is spent on grant writing or other forms of fundraising. Kairos has no development person and no endowment, and the two women receive no salary. Guests are informed that the cost, including room and meals, is $35 per day, but no one is denied “a Kairos time” for lack of funds.
As to the name, Kairos, the brochure explains the applied meaning of the Greek word: “Kairos is the revelation of a Love that is not the effect of any cause; a Love that is ever-present and beyond every cause and every effect. Kairos reveals a Peace that cannot be created: that depends on no condition. Kairos is an Eternal Presence that cannot be earned or attained, because it already is. It always is. And it is ours for the uncovering, for the allowing, for the experiencing ... within any now of our choosing.”