About Us

Located in Atchison, Kansas, on forty acres of rolling hills, in a Benedictine environment of a praying community, the Sophia Center provides an ideal setting for prayer and reflection. Retreats and workshops are on the grounds of the monastery. Spend prayerful time in the inspiring chapels, share in the spiritual and intellectual resources of the sisters and, most importantly, experience worship with a monastic community known for its reverent, beautiful liturgies. Open to persons of all faiths, the programs include courses on the Scripture, monastic spirituality, reflection days, directed and group retreats, Advent and Lenten days of prayer, days of recollection and much more.

Interested in receiving our monthly eNewsletter about upcoming offerings and our latest news? Sign-up now. If you have questions, feel free to reach out to us at 913.360.6173, or email sophia@mountosb.org.

Regarding COVID-19 and what we are doing at Sophia

A Message from S. Carol Ann, May 20, 2021

As summer approaches, we are thankful for the progress made in curtailing the spread of the Covid virus. We are especially grateful to those who have been vaccinated. We realize that many churches and businesses are beginning to open up more. We will continue to take special care because of our sisters and residents in Dooley Center.

During June, we are hoping to be able to host our Souljourner Practicum retreat and graduation here at the Mount. During July, we anticipate being able to open up to some private retreatants who have been vaccinated. By August, we hope to be able to host our annual directed silent retreat with a limited number of participants as well as host several church groups who made reservations months ago. Again, we will rely on our guests to be fully vaccinated out of respect for other guests and our sisters.

We will continue to offer retreats via ZOOM and gradually mix in some on-site retreats and more private retreats. We have been delighted during this pandemic time to be able to offer all retreats for a simple donation in lieu of a fee. However, as we move forward to a mix of ZOOM and on-site offering, we will need to return to invoicing for retreats. While we hate doing this, we know that you are anxious to have us remain viable and able to welcome you in the future. We will always provide generous scholarships for those who wish to attend but are not able to pay the requested fee.

Thank you for your support during the difficult times of the pandemic. Be assured of our continuing prayers for you and your family. We are anxious to welcome you back to Sophia.

S. Carol Ann Petersen, OSB
Sophia Center


We invite you to keep in touch. One of the many things 2020 has shown us is that things can change month to month, week to week, and day to day. Our regular monthly eNewsletters have become essential in communicating the many changes, additions, and updates that have occurred at Sophia Center. As we move into 2021, we will be updating our mailing list and are asking everyone interested in keeping up with the most current online retreats Sophia Center is hosting, to please complete a very brief sign-up, which will help us to ensure delivery of the information you want. There will also be a place to provide your physical mailing address if you wish to receive our mailers, of which we have 2 planned for 2021. Whether you have been on our mailing list for years, or are coming to us for the first time, we are grateful for your time in completing the form and most grateful for your support. We look forward to welcoming you online at one of our many retreats scheduled in the new year!

Meet the Staff

  • Sister Carol Ann Petersen
  • Donna Coleman
  • Sister Joanne Yankauskis
  • Diane Ruskamp

Sister Carol Ann Petersen, OSB is a member of the Benedictine Community of Mount St. Scholastica.  She earned her master’s degree in Educational Administration from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. She served as principal of schools in Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri before ministering for eleven years as associate superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph. She was the founding director of Keeler Women’s Center and served there from 2003-2016. She has served as director of Sophia Spirituality Center since the spring of 2016.

Donna Coleman grew up in the nearby town of Weston, MO and completed her Bachelor's degree in English at Benedictine College, later going on to receive certification in Graphic Design at the Kansas City Art Institute. She has spent time living and working abroad in Belize, Japan, and Madagascar. Donna enjoys working with people and is excited to be a part of Sophia's ministry. She and her husband currently reside in Atchison.

Joanne Yankauskis is a member of the Benedictine Community of Mount St. Scholastica. She has been Administrative Assistant at Sophia Center since 2011. Joanne earned her master's degree in Education from Fitchburg State College, Fitchburg, Massachusetts and a Masters in Spirituality from St. Michael’s College, Winooski, Vermont.

Diane Ruskamp, a live-in volunteer at Mount St. Scholastica, serves as hospitality assistant to the guests, visitors, and strangers that cross our path. She has been volunteering for 15 years at different locations, and believes that serving is her ministry.

  • Mary Kay Whitacre
  • Sister Mary Elizabeth Schweiger
  • Sister Micaela Randolph
  • Sister Martha Schweiger

Mary Kay Whitacre is a 2005 graduate of Souljourners and has been on the Souljourners staff since 2005.  She has worked in pastoral ministry in the Catholic Church for more than 40 years. She has a master’s degree from Seattle University and has recently received her Doctor of Ministry from Seattle University.  Mary Kay is Associate Director of Souljourners and does spiritual direction, supervision, and a variety of retreats.

Sister Mary Elizabeth Scheiger, OSB is member of the Benedictine Community of Mount St. Scholastica.  She earned her master’s degree in Liturgy from St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN and in Christian Spirituality from Creighton University. Mary Liz worked in pastoral ministry for many years in the Kansas City area. After 12 years as sub-prioress of Mount St. Scholastica, she has been on the staff of Sophia Center for six years. She is the Director of Souljourners and Coordinator of the Oblate Directors of the Mount. Mary Liz also serves on the Community Council, does spiritual direction, and offers retreats. 

Sister Micaela Randolph, OSB is a member of the Benedictine Community of Mount St. Scholastica. She earned a master’s degree in Religious Education from St. Meinrad’s in Meinrad, IN in 1979 and a master’s degree in Christian Spirituality from Creighton University in 1990. Micaela is a former Director of Initial Formation for her community. She has been ministering in Sophia Center since 2003 and served as Director of Souljourners for 15 years. She continues to serve on the staff of Souljourners along with offering spiritual direction, supervision, and retreats.

Sister Martha Schweiger is a  Benedictine sister. She earned a degree in Elementary Education at Mount St. Scholastica College. She began her teaching career and taught for forty-seven years in Kansas, Missouri, and Colorado and served on visiting teams for elementary accreditation in Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri diocese.

Since retiring, she offers hospitality at Sophia Center. She enjoys using her photography talents to capture the beauty of nature and people’s lives.

Frequently Asked Questions

Office hours have been adjusted during the COVID-19 pandemic, and are currently from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For scheduled retreats, check-in time is one half hour before the retreat is scheduled to begin. For groups, the check in time will be established with the leader in advance of the retreat.  For private retreats we ask that you arrive between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Special arrangements can be made if necessary.

Please come to Sophia Center on the main floor of the Feeney building to check in. The entrance to Sophia Center is on the south side of the building. If you are staying overnight, please leave your bags in the car until you are registered and have your room location and key. 

Once the COVID-19 threat has lessened, and we are again able to welcome guests, they are always welcome for Liturgy of the Hours and Eucharist. If you are new to Sophia Center, one of the sisters will provide a brief orientation for you and find you a place in chapel. A schedule for prayer times can be found in your room. Out of respect for the group gathered for prayer, please plan to arrive at least five minutes early for the service.

Morning prayer during the week is at 7:00 a.m. and evening praise is at 5:30 p.m. Saturday & Sunday morning prayer is at 8:45 a.m. and evening praise is at 5:00 p.m.  Sunday Eucharist is at 9:30 a.m. 

We suggest comfortable clothes, appropriate for the season, as well as comfortable walking shoes. You may find a light sweater helpful for meeting rooms.  In the chapel, the dining room and meeting rooms, we suggest  “business casual”.  If you plan to join the sisters in the chapel, we prefer that shorts not be worn.

For private retreatants and groups of less than 20, meals are typically served in the monastery dining room, a short walk across campus. For larger groups, meals are usually provided at Sophia Center. We do have a kitchen area, although it is quite limited. If you are interested in utilizing the kitchen, please make sure to discuss with someone on Sophia staff ahead of time, to determine if we can meet your needs.

We welcome men as guests for private retreats, as participants in scheduled retreats or hosted retreats. 

There are 20 bedrooms and 24 beds located in St. Catherine’s Hall, across the street from the main Sophia Center building. An additional 7 rooms with 14 beds are located on the third floor of St. Cecilia’s, which is attached to the monastery building. 

We provide sheets, towels, wash cloths, pillows and blankets. Please bring toiletries and other personal items you may need. Since some of the bathrooms are down the hall, you will also want to bring a bathrobe. 

Sophia Center has 27 rooms and 38 beds. Retreatants may either choose a private room or a room to share with someone you know.

All the bathrooms are private. Some are shared between two bedrooms. Others are down the hall.

Sophia Center is equipped with wired and wireless connectivity in the main building and in St. Cecilia’s.