A Brief History of the Archdiocesan House of Prayer
Archbishop Ignatius Jerome Strecker had a vision to create a House of Prayer in the Archdiocese to be a place of prayer and solitude where people could encounter God in the silence and where daily prayers could be offered for the spiritual welfare of the Archdiocese, the universal Church and the whole world. On October 17, 1971, a former horse farm was purchased just southeast of Easton, Kansas. The Archbishop appointed Fr. Ed Hays to guide and develop the House of Prayer upon his return from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and travel to India. In 1972, the Archdiocesan House of Prayer was established and given the name Shantivanam which means “Forest of Peace” in Sanskrit, the name of a Catholic monastery in India visited by Fr. Ed on his journey.
The contemplative mission was founded on the Biblical texts, “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:11) and “My house shall be called a House of Prayer for all people” (Is 56:7). Fr. Ed also found inspiration from the Vatican II document, Nosta Aetate, which states, “The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions (the major Eastern religions) (that) often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men”. Throughout the years, nearly eighty people have come to live this contemplative mission for a year or longer to be formed in prayer, meditation, service to others and simplicity of living.
During these 50 years and up to today, thousands of guests – both lay and religious – have come to find solitude and peace within this forested environment. Guests enter the property and arrive at the main building which includes guest rooms, a great room, conference room and chapel. Various walking trails lead to the cabins, hermitages, prairie, and shrines found on the front sixty acres while the back sixty acres are totally forested with walking trails maintained for the use of guests.
The House of Prayer was renamed Christ’s Peace House of Prayer in 2011 to reflect a changed emphasis and to define the identity of this archdiocesan ministry more precisely. The focus was refined to serve a new generation of individuals seeking a peaceful place of prayer and to meet the present day needs of the local Church. The prayer experience shifted to be more Eucharistic, and with the richness and beauty of the Catholic Tradition emphasized. Our well attended monthly preached retreats are designed to deepen the retreatants faith and interior life while exposing them to the beauty of contemplative prayer.
May we always honor the prescripts of Nostra Aetate and, “proclaim Christ ‘the Way, the Truth, and the Life’ in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself”. We pray that the Holy Spirit will guide us so that the many who seek intimacy with God will find Christ’s Peace House of Prayer to be a place of great peace and blessing.