Priests and religious in the Diocese of Wilmington now have another option when they are looking for some rest or reflection.
The Norbertine Fathers of the Immaculate Conception Priory in Middletown have transformed a farmhouse on their property on Bayview Road into a retreat house. Doing so is one way they can fulfill part of their mission, said Norbertine Father Bill Trader, sub-prior of the community and director of Augustine House, as the center has been named.
“One of our charisms is to assist the local church. In the past, we’ve been in parishes and local high schools. We’ve assisted at local Masses and things like that,” he said.
One of the ways they believed they could help the church in the Diocese of Wilmington is to give priests and religious a place to “get away, just to renew themselves,” Father Trader said. Currently, there is no structured programming, although there is a chance that directed retreats could be arranged. Those who want to visit can go for an afternoon, a full day, overnight or a few days. The building has four bedrooms.
“We tailor it to how you need it,” Father Trader said.
The farmhouse was on the property when the Norbertines purchased it, Father Trader said. The original thought was to use it as a house of formation.
Norbertine Father James Herring, prior of the Immaculate Conception Priory, dedicated Augustine House on June 6, the feast of St. Norbert. He also dedicated a statue of St. Norbert. The statue was supposed to arrive last year for the 900th anniversary of the order, but there were shipping delays, so that had to be put off, Father Trader said. Members of the Norbertine community were there, as were a few diocesan priests, diocesan delegate for religious Sister Ann David Strohminger, and some people who regularly worship at Immaculate Conception Priory.