For most of its storied history, Mount Saint Joseph at Maple Mount has been known as being home to the Ursuline Sisters.

While that's true, the sisters frequently share the space with outsiders looking for a peaceful place to get away from their busy lives.

To help accommodate those looking for a tranquil and somewhat secluded setting, the Mount Saint Joseph Conference and Retreat Center was created in southwest Daviess County -- about 20 minutes from Owensboro -- for that purpose.

According to Maryann Joyce, the Conference and Retreat Center's assistant director, the modern glass facade, added in 1996, has been connected to multiple buildings, including what was the original 1874 structure of the Mount Saint Joseph Academy for girls.

"In 1983, the academy shut down, and within three months, the sisters worked hard and opened it as a retreat center," Joyce said.

The dormitory rooms for the girls were converted into retreat suites, many with double beds and private and shared bathrooms, to accommodate guests.

"We can house almost 100 people and we have a little over 50 rooms," Joyce said.

Along with the suites, the Conference and Retreat Center offers sizable meeting areas for business and staff retreats as well as dining halls staffed by cooks.

And during the past week, the Runaway Quilters, a group of more than 100 women from Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee and Georgia consumed the retreat, even taking over the gymnasium for sewing space.

Their quilts decorated the white railings along the outside breezeways within the retreat's courtyard.

According to Terry Russelburg of Philpot, the quilters have been faithfully making the Mount an annual retreat since 1990.

Russelburg said the women's everyday worries of cooking, cleaning and working at their jobs disappear for a week.

"It is peaceful and that's a lot of it," said Russelburg who helps organize the event. "…It's just a quiet place and for the ones who are Catholic, they go to mass in the morning."

For 46 years, the Mount Saint Joseph Picnic was the signature event that was held every September. However, the picnic ended in 2016.

Royce said a new event called Escape to the Mount Weekend has taken the picnic's place as the annual fundraiser. A trivia night is held on Saturday and quilt bingo on Sunday. A raffle for a chance at $10,000 is also part of the weekend.

And throughout this year, the retreat center will host or offer 62 groups/programs. Two of the reoccurring programs are Focus on the Faith, a program that's a book study, and the Twilight Retreat, which is topical or theme-driven on issues such as cultural diversity and immigration.

Spiritual Get-Away

There are two chapels on the grounds -- a smaller one inside the retreat center and the larger Motherhouse Chapel -- that are available to guests and to the public.

The Rosary Walk is on the grounds of Mount Saint Joseph and offers people a chance to express their spirituality among the beauty and splendor of the "holy ground." No appointment is necessary.

And the Shrine Meditation Walk is on the grounds of the Motherhouse for the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph. It features various sites with dedicated shrines and statues that can be viewed during the walk. On the Northwest corner of the campus are Christ the King, Saint Joseph, Father Paul Joseph Volk -- founder of the Mount Saint Joseph Academy, The Five Pioneer Ursuline Sisters and The Memorial Wall. At the Center Campus East are Saint Agnes, Our Lady of Fatima, Saint Theresa of Lisieux, Saint Anthony of Padua, Saint Jude Thaddeus and Our Lady of Prompt Succor. No appointments are necessary to make the walk.

For additional programs, pricing information, registration or scheduling of facilities, contact the Conference and Retreat Center at 270-229-0206.

Don Wilkins, dwilkins@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7299

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