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    The Priory Retreat House
    135 Priory Rd
    Chestertown, NY 12817

    Our Mission & Story

    Come.  Be Still.  Listen.  A Monastic Way For All.

    Living out the Mission

    ABOUT: With a shared focus on restoring the monastic traditions of the original community here on the mount, we seek to revitalize the house and property as a refuge for all individuals who desire a stronger connection with God and Creation. We embody simple living, communal prayer, and delve into internal spiritual work as the Benedictine monks did walking these grounds 40 years ago. In light of the “universal call to holiness” and recognizing the call to “interior monasticism”, the Priory stands to be “A MONASTIC WAY FOR ALL.”

    Many of us are not called to take religious vows or join a monastery. However, like monastics, we are all called to become the best versions of ourselves while serving others in this world, while not being of the world.  It is in the world, working our professions, going to school, and living in a family where we get burnt out and it is we who are in most need of a RETREAT.  People of all ways of life fall into this category, because we all know what it is like to walk a path in the world — we all have this in common.

    OUR MISSION : Creating a society where all live to their full potential.

    We feel that many people do not know how to retreat. We hope that this message will acquaint those people with a notion of how to unplug, make time, and renounce oneself of everyday distractions. Our family wishes to serve those who are longtime friends of the Priory while also bringing new faces here, especially those who are in deep need of contemplation, prayer, and a sense of community — and to introduce that feeling that countless people have had on their first visit to The Priory.

    In summary…

    OUR VISION : We seek to be known as a place of refuge for all individuals who desire a stronger connection with God, themselves, and creation by showing them how to live simply, to make time for prayer, and by investing in internal spiritual work.  We will continually seek out young professionals who are burnt out by the stress in their personal and occupational life by offering retreats that teach them how to unplug, be detached, and become more watchful and prayerful in their everyday life.

    Peace be with you †

    The Priory Family & Staff


    Dustin, husband to Lanni Lantto and father to Satori Rising, is called to form of an intentional community of prayer, hospitality and active stewardship for God’s creation. With over a decade of experience serving as a parish youth minister, he has led mission trips, wilderness ventures, spiritual directed retreats, and given numerous talks on being Disciples of Christ. He has made several pilgrimages and retreats throughout the world to holy monastic and hermitage sites, but has always found the most refuge in the woods of North America. He is also an independent filmmaker and public speaker and holds a B.A. in Religious Studies, and M.A. in Divinity / Catholic Studies.

    You can find out more about Dustin's film company at and his public speaking page at

    Dustin Katona

    Executive Director - Abba of the House

    Lanni, wife to Dustin Katona and mother to Satori Rising, has traveled the world empowering women through the arts. She has spoken publicly on the importance of non-consumption and how to awaken to the reality we can creatively re-use what we already own. She earned a B.A. in Women’s Studies, holds a LLM in International Law, and taught Women’s Studies at Ithaca and Wells College respectfully.

    You can find Lanni’s business online at

    Lanni Lantto

    Associate Director - Amma of the House

    Twelve years ago, Maureen experienced the sacred space of the Priory for the first time. Since then, she has returned many times and in 2014, she was pleased to join the staff as part time office manager. It has been her intention to bring her business and customer service experience to welcoming those who seek time away for quiet refreshment with a spirit of hospitality.

    Maureen Schultz

    Office Manager - Friend of the House

    Present everywhere and filling all things, the treasury of all blessings and the giver of all life, dwelling within us and savings us... daily.

    The Holy Spirit of God

    Spiritual Director - Divine Counselor - Marketer


    Dustin Katona

    Executive Director

    Peter Hart


    Melissa Wilson

    Vice President

    Mark Hodge


    Lynne Shepherd


    Pat Mousaw


    The Invitation

    “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.”
    (Mt. 5:14,16)

    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.”
    (Mt. 15:19)

    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.


    Rooms and meeting space are available upon request.

    Just ask us!

    Single Room

    A private space with a comfortable twin bed, linens and towels provided. Breathtaking Adirondack views just outside your window. Shared bathroom (please bring your own toiletries).

    Double Room

    A shared sleeping space with with two twin beds, fresh linens and towels provided. Shared bathroom (please bring your own toiletries).

    Loft Room

    Among the house’s many nooks and crannies, you may want to take advantage of some if its coziest sleeping spaces and drift off on a comfy futon or cot- fresh linens provided. A privacy screen is also available.

    Meeting Space

    Come to The Priory of St. Benedict’s Retreat House and Conference Center’s sacred mountaintop in the southeastern Adirondacks for your next meeting or event! Our team will work closely with you to ensure that you and your group are served and satisfied! With day-time use of the facility, you are entitled to its many amenities, including:

    A large, eat-in kitchen

    A spacious living room with wood stove

    Two chapels

    An extensive library

    Many cozy reading nooks

    Breathtaking views from every window

    100 acres of surrounding woods with hiking trails

    Eight bedrooms plus dormitory space (for Overnight Use)

    Learn More

    Call (518) 494-3733 or email to learn more

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