|The new chapel at the Bethany Retreat House, a retreat center in Dickson run by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation, is nearing completion and will be dedicated on Saturday, Nov. 28, by Bishop David Choby.
The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia wanted a place where the sisters could go for their annual days of spiritual renewal and ongoing religious formation. But they soon realized there was an interest on the part of others for a place where they could spend time in spiritual renewal.
Thus was born the Bethany Retreat House in Dickson, Tennessee, named for the place where the Gospel tells us Jesus went to be with his friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus.
The third and final phase of the construction of the retreat house, a permanent chapel that can accommodate up to 150 people, is nearly complete. And on Saturday, Nov. 28, Bishop David Choby will dedicate Our Mother of Perpetual Help Chapel. Bishop Choby will be the main celebrant of the Mass at 10:30 a.m. and he will be joined by several priests from the diocese, with diocesan seminarians serving.
“The dedication will allow us to begin using the chapel while construction of the entire project is being completed,” said Mother Ann Marie Karlovic, O.P. “We are planning a celebration in May 2016 to thank all the benefactors who have contributed to this project as well as those who have been involved with its construction.”
In October 2013, the Dominican Sisters broke ground on the chapel wing, after receiving a lead gift from an anonymous donor.
“The chapel wing was designed to provide a facility conducive to meeting both spiritual and physical needs of those wishing to come away for quiet and prayer,” said Mother Ann Marie. The chapel is the “crowning piece” of the entire retreat house.
Retreats have continued in the two completed sections while the chapel wing is under construction. The first two wings of the retreat house were made possible by a gift of Gayle and Tom Benson of New Orleans, the owner of the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League and the New Orleans Pelicans of the National Basketball Association.
The first and center section of Bethany Retreat House was completed in February 2011, and includes a great room, loft library, meeting room, kitchen, decks, elevator, 11 bedrooms, priest’s bedroom with private bath, four bedrooms with offices, communal bathrooms, laundry room and phone booth.
The second phase, the Refectory Wing, was completed in December 2011. It includes the Refectory (monastic dining room) with seating for up to 64 people, 20 bedrooms, a screened porch, entrance hall, and office/reception area.
Since opening, the retreat house has been busy. The Dominican Sisters use Bethany especially during the summer for community spiritual renewal and ongoing formation days. At other times of the year, the retreat center has been used increasingly by school, parish and other groups of Catholic faithful.
Retreats are taking place weekly at Bethany and are frequently booked several months ahead of time. Schools and parishes have held retreats for parents and for faculty at Bethany. The Catholic Medical Association has used Bethany for retreats for Catholic women physicians, and the Dominicans have hosted retreats for the community’s benefactors at Bethany.
Until now, a portion of the dining hall has been converted to use as a chapel. Construction of the permanent chapel is continuing and is expected to be complete next May.
The Dominican Sisters have been raising funds to cover the cost of the Chapel Wing, which has a goal of $4,350,000. They are close to meeting the financial goal of the project, needing a few hundred thousand dollars more to complete this phase.
Those who would like information about arranging retreats at Bethany Retreat House, can call (615) 878-0280. Anyone interested in assisting the Dominican Sisters with completing this project, should contact Sister Mary Angela, O.P., Director of Advancement, at (615) 251-0053.