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Explore the Diocese’s Unique Places of Prayer

Posted on March 23, 2022 in: News

Explore the Diocese’s Unique Places of Prayer

During Lent I like to visit places of calm and reflection where I can feel alone in prayer, and  in the presence of God. Over the years I have visited several such places which are conveniently located in our Diocese.

One spot that I often visit is Enders Island. This is an 11-acre island off the coast of Mystic, which welcomes visitors to take the journey across a single-lane causeway to visit the magnificent chapel of Our Lady of the Assumption, featuring dozens of unique works in Sacred Art. 

During daylight hours, visitors are welcome to walk the grounds and experience the spectacularly preserved gardens of Alys Enders. A small gift shop with religious goods and home-made jellies is available in the foyer of St. Michael's Hall. Mass is celebrated at 9 a.m. daily.  

This Lent I visited a place I had not been to in many years, The Immaculate Conception Center.  It is tucked away in Connecticut’s “Quiet Corner” fewer than 10 miles from the Massachusetts and Rhode Island borders. Situated on 85 acres, this retreat center and convent invites visitors to step away from the business of everyday life and enter a space of silence, prayer and contemplation to encounter the Lord.  

If you are seeking a place where you can step away from everyday concerns and encounter Christ, come and walk the grounds of Enders Island or Immaculate Conception Center. 

By Deacon Ben Locasto

Immaculate Conception Center has a unique past

The Immaculate Conception Center is not only tied to the history of the Diocese but also the world. The spiritual heritage of the Center dates back more than a century.

The first seeds were sown in 1913 when Fr. George Matulaitis, the renovator of the Marian Fathers (Marians of the Immaculate Conception), traveled from Lithuania to the United States and established a Marian foundation in Chicago. 

Soon after, Fr. Matulaitis founded a women’s religious order, the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception. The ministry of the Marian fathers continued to develop and in 1926 they founded the Marianapolis Prep school in Thompson, Connecticut, which is still in operation today. Meanwhile, the Sisters’ ranks grew rapidly following the first World War.

In 1936 the Sisters were asked to come to the United States and assist the Marian Fathers in Connecticut with various domestic works at their prep school.  WWII brought on the Soviet and Nazi regimes which overran Lithuania, leaving the Sisters cut off from their homeland. Realizing there was no possibility of returning to their country, they purchased the Windham County Children’s Home, a recently closed state orphanage, to provide for their growing community in 1943. 

Originally, the Sisters’ ministered to the large number of Lithuanian refugees who came to Connecticut escaping the persecution of both the Soviets and the Nazis and throughout the years, the Sisters served the Lithuanian community in many capacities. However, as their membership began to decline and the needs of Lithuanian immigrants evolved, the facility and grounds were adjusted to serve the local community.

Since 2008, the site has functioned as a retreat house, hosting groups and individuals seeking spiritual renewal, while the remaining Sisters continue their activities within the Lithuanian diaspora. The Sisters and the lay community supporting them, together with the Marians, hope to continue to serve the wider public in the tri-state region, offering opportunities for spiritual renewal, faith formation and evangelization.
The Immaculate Conception Center continues to host retreats for a diverse range of Catholic apostolates and parish groups who benefit from the peace and tranquility of the facility and grounds.

The Center has also begun to explore new opportunities to support the local Catholic parishes through Bible studies, faith formation events for youth, retreat weekends open to the public, the establishment of a Christian bookstore, and other endeavors.  


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