“You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. … Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”
In 1974, Father Paul Roman received an invitation from his friend, Bill Aiken, to “climb a mountain.” At the top, he saw one hundred acres of virgin Adirondack forest, and hung a medal of St. Benedict on a beam of a sagging barn. Upon coming down the mountain, Fr. Roman shared the news of his recent discovery with his friends, Fathers John Kerwin and Michael Neaton. These two priests had recently been granted permission to establish a Catholic monastic community where they could lead a life of contemplation, hospitality, work, and service. This mountaintop made for an ideal permanent site and the foundation to a community set a part from the world.
“You are not of the world…I chose you out of the world.”
Following construction of the house in 1979, Bishop Howard Hubbard dedicated the building, grounds and community as the Priory of St. Benedict. While the community sought contemplation and the living out of their call as monastics, people began to come for common prayer and times of public worship with the monks. As the friends of the monks grew in numbers, the reputation of the Priory also grew. In time, the focus of the community began to shift to establishing a retreat house for all peoples.
In 1984, The Priory’s new chapel was completed and dedicated by Bishop Hubbard and in 1985, the last monk of the original community left to follow a new call. With this, the faithful friends of the community began to discern anew The Priory’s purpose.
Dedicated to helping people cultivate their spirituality, Sister Connie Messitt, CSJ was asked to become Retreat Director of The Priory in 1987. She proposed to the Board of Directors to officially convert the house into a year round center for people of all faiths. Sister Francis Gilchrist, CSJ joined the Priory community in 1989 and became co-director, where she would serve until 2005. Pat Mousaw served as co-director until 2007 after Sr. Fran’s departure from full-time ministry, followed by Sister Karen Lee, CSJ who would assist Sr. Connie as assistant director for a time. After almost 30 years of service, Sr. Connie retired from her role as the Priory’s Director in 2015.
“Come away with me. Let us go alone to a quiet place and rest for a while.”
Presently, under the leadership of Executive Director, Dustin Katona, the Priory hosts and listens to all who come to its doors. We offer overnight retreats, weekend workshops, and full and half-day programs. We also host groups who want a place to hold their own retreats and gatherings, and individuals who are seeking a time of solitude and prayer. The house and grounds are places that cultivate stillness and stability amidst an ever-changing world.