Dominican Sr. Elizabeth Amman, left, director of Marywood, chats with Dick and Jan Huseby before the luncheon. Jan, the director of music and worship at St. Mary, Tomahawk, provided music for the Mass along with Michelle Rein, parish director for St. Albert, Land O’Lakes, and St. Mary, Phelps. (Catholic Herald photo by Anita Draper)

For 25 years, Marywood Franciscan Spirituality Center, Arbor Vitae, has offered classes, workshops and spiritual guidance in the Diocese of Superior.

On June 6, 1992, the religious community made the decision to develop the Vilas County site as the diocese’s only spirituality center, and on Tuesday, June 6, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration celebrated Marywood’s 25th anniversary with Bishop James P. Powers and guests.

Marywood was purchased in 1966 to be a provincial site and sisters’ retreat center. Later, the La Crosse-based Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration transitioned the property to a place of ministry, a retreat center open to the general public.
About 50 people attended the Mass of Thanksgiving and luncheon, including current staff, FSPA sisters, original advisory committee and board members, and former staff.

Bishop James P. Powers presided at the Mass, with concelebrants Fr. Kevin Farrell, a retired priest of the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois, who is currently serving at Holy Family, Woodruff, and Fr. Aaron Devett, pastor of Holy Family.

In his homily, the bishop spoke about the importance of ministering beyond the walls of a building, and observed how easily faith can be relegated to one hour a week in a church.
“God tries desperately to help us see we’ve got to get out of the building,” he added.

The outdoors has always been a place of teaching in the Bible, as well as – in our time – a place to escape the busyness of everyday life.

“A lot of our lives are so noisy, it’s no wonder we don’t hear God’s call,” he added.

The bishop praised the sisters for doing God’s work, and wondered how many lives have been touched by their 25-year ministry.

“Today, we celebrate the gift this place is,” he said, “and we celebrate the joy of knowing we have done, are doing, what our God has asked of us.”