The Mission of St Francis Retreat Center, a ministry of the Diocese of Lansing, is to provide experiences that foster encounters with Christ through retreats, spiritual development, formation, and learning so as to empower others to live holy, wholesome values in our contemporary society. We Commit ourselves to offering:
Immersion experiences into our sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist.
Prayer experiences, a variety of retreats, spiritual direction, and study as ways to foster the development of individuals.
We desire to provide a place of welcome and hospitality for persons, communities and organizations consistent with our values.
We offer a natural environment conducive to reflection and healing.
We embrace the gospel call to compassion, justice and inclusivity
Extension Programs and Affiliations
St Francis Retreat Center provides a ‘place away’ for Catholics, as well as churches in other Christian traditions. In addition to our hosted retreats, St. Francis Retreat Center offers:
Sustaining Pastoral Excellence,a beacon of hope, not only for pastors and spiritual leaders but the congregations they serve. Our ecumenical program reaches out to sustain and provide respite and training for clergy, lay ministers and spiritual leaders of all denominations.
Cursillo, an encounter with Christ 3-day weekend, and direction for a lifetime of discipleship. It promotes a spiritual revitalization of our world. By living a fully Christian life, we bring Christ to others, including members of our family, school, workplace, etc. Cursillo develops a consciousness that we are called to be leaders through discipleship.
Spiritual Director Formation, a two-year Internship program for forming Spiritual Directors. This valuable ministry benefits the people in the Lansing Diocese and throughout all of Michigan.
Then the LORD God planted a garden in Eden (Genesis 2:8)
The Franciscan friary and retreat house were built on the former property of Sylvester and Florence Surrat. The friars purchased the property in May, 1954. The retreat house in DeWitt was originally named “Portiuncula in the Pines.” “Portiuncula” is Italian for “little portion” which aptly describes this little garden of Eden amid the high pressure hustle and bustle today’s world.
In September of 1960, Bishop Albers dedicated a separate Friary. This allowed the entire community to live under one roof and freed up space in the Retreat House for retreatants. In 1966, the friars, concerned that the vacant land west of the original acreage might be developed into housing, purchased the additional sixty-five acres that now is part of the ninety-five acres of inspirational beauty.
In 1988, the number of brothers residing at Portiuncula in the Pines had declined. The responsibility of caring for the land and buildings had become too much for the remaining friars. With the approval of Bishop Povish, the Diocese of Lansing purchased the entire complex. In 1989, Father Larry Delaney was appointed its founding Director.
To address the growing awareness of the needs of the youth of the diocese, construction began on Bethany House in 2000. The project revamped the interior of the Friary and added fifty-two overnight rooms, a conference room and a large common area. With the strong support of the Lansing area Knights of Columbus, Bethany House was completed in the fall of 2001 and is serving the needs of our diocesan youth and various other groups.
The Retreat Center continues to provide the rich tradition of offering retreats for men and women, the work begun by the Franciscans and carried on since 1989 under the prayerful guidance of our founding director, the late Fr Larry.