Sophia Spirituality Center
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.
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Advent is a season of watching, waiting and preparing. It’s a time when church communities, families and individuals prepare both hearts and sacred spaces to welcome Christ and celebrate his coming.
Of course, we know that Christ was born and came into the world many years ago, but we must continually wait and watch or we’ll miss him in our midst today. The Jesus presented to us on social media, at political rallies or in the news is often not the Jesus of the Gospels. Jesus did not teach violence or hatred; he taught us to love. At our baptism, we promise to live that love by seeking and serving Christ in ALL persons, by striving for justice and peace, and by respecting the dignity of EVERY human being.
When we picture ourselves in the Gospel story of Jesus, I’m sure we hope that we would be the inn owner who would have a room, or the shepherd who would hasten. If we watch and wait and pay attention to the signs of our times, we see so many examples of Christ among us, unrecognized but looking for a welcome: Christ who comes in the migrants and refugees, Christ who is wounded but present in those who are victims of violence or discrimination – Jews, Muslims, LGBTQIA+, young people and old people, the handicapped and mentally or physically ill, the homeless and so many more who are on the margins of society. In each person, Christ is present and seeking a loving welcome and a home.
During Advent, there are carols to sing, candles to light, doors of Advent calendars to be opened, trees to be decorated, presents to buy, a festive table to be set, meals to be prepared, and on and on. Let us, above all, be alert and prepare our hearts to embrace Christ in anyone who might be left behind or missed. Let us watch, slow down to notice, and expand our hearts to welcome God among us. Let us have the courage of the Holy Spirit to address the sins of our times. Help us rise above our dread that nothing can be done, and grant us the conviction to advocate for a world that values each person. That, I think, is the true message and hope of Advent.
All of us at Sophia, and all of the Benedictine Sisters, wish you and yours a most blessed Christmas. You will be remembered in our Masses and prayers during this season and throughout the year.
We have published our calendar of upcoming events January-May. We hope you’ll be able to join us in person or on Zoom.
Click on the button above to be directed to the Make a Donation page, and select Sophia Spirituality Center under the “Designation” menu. Thanks!
Meet the Staff
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.
Sister Sharon began her teaching career at an elementary school in Corning, Kansas, before spending five years teaching math at Mount St. Scholastica Academy. Finding her niche at the college level, she taught math for over twenty years each at Longview Community College in Missouri, and Donnelly College, Kansas City, Kansas.
During her last five years at Donnelly, along with teaching, Sister Sharon set up and coordinated the Campus Cupboard, where Donnelly students could get food, hygiene, and school supplies for free.
She enjoys making and decorating cakes, dancing for special liturgies, and sewing. She hopes all of these will come in handy working at Sophia Center.
Mary Kay Whitacre has worked in pastoral ministry in the Catholic Church for more than 45 years. She received a Master’s degree in Religious Education in 1982, and her Doctor of Ministry in 2017 from Seattle University. She is a 2005 graduate of the Souljourners program and then joined the Souljourners staff. Mary Kay is Associate Director of Souljourners and provides spiritual direction, supervision, and a variety of retreats.
Sister Mary Elizabeth Schweiger, OSB, is a 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 twenty years in the Kansas City area. In 1999, she became the sub-prioress for the monastery and served for twelve years. She has been on the staff of Sophia Center since 2011 and in 2017 became the Director of Souljourners' Program. She is Coordinator of the Oblate Directors of the Mount and also serves on the Community Council, provides 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.
Diane Budke joins the Sophia Spirituality staff after leaving her position at St. Pius X high school in Kansas City, Missouri, where she served the past 10 years as their business manager. Diane is a graduate of Benedictine College and a recent graduate of Souljourners, Sophia Center's spiritual director formation program.
"I feel blessed to be joining the staff at Sophia Center. It has been a place of both spiritual comfort and spiritual growth. This is a new phase of life for me and I’m looking forward to using different gifts and sharing the Benedictine hospitality with all who visit Sophia Center."
Frequently Asked Questions
Sophia Spirituality Center is open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Central Time) Tuesday through Friday. The office is closed on Mondays.
If you call and leave a message, we will be prompt in answering.
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 9:30-3:30 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.
When COVID numbers cooperate, guests are welcome for Liturgy of the Hours and Eucharist. If you are new to Sophia Spirituality 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.
Held in the monastery choir chapel, morning prayer during the week is at 7:00 a.m. and evening praise is at 5:30 p.m. Morning prayer on Saturday is at 8:45 a.m. On Sunday, morning prayer is at 9:30 a.m. Evening praise on Saturday and Sunday is at 5:00 p.m. Sunday Eucharist is at 10:15 a.m. in St. Scholastica Chapel. Mass is held in St. Lucy Chapel (in Dooley Center) at 11:15 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
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.
We welcome men as guests for private retreats, as participants in scheduled retreats or hosted retreats.
There are some bedrooms located in St. Catherine’s Hall, across the street from the main Sophia Center building and some are located on the third floor of St. Cecilia’s, which is attached to the monastery building. It requires some walking to get to both buildings.
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.
Ordinarily guests will be given a private room unless they choose to share a room with someone they 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.