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.

Exciting Changes

A Message from S. Carol Ann, July 26, 2022
 

We are looking forward to a few new faces at Sophia Center. Sister Sharon Hamsa, a member of Mount St. Scholastica, and Diane Budke, a recent Souljourners graduate, will be joining our staff. As we continue to re-establish our on-site offerings and welcome more visitors, with their help, we will be offering the same warm Benedictine hospitality that has always been a central part of our mission. In September, you’ll have an opportunity to meet them and learn a little more about who they are right here on the webpage!

While we look forward to hosting more people at Sophia, we will continue to monitor the COVID numbers in our county, and will adjust plans if needed for the safety of our guests and our sisters in Dooley Center. Explore all of our offerings scheduled through the end of the year on our Programs webpage. We have both Zoom and on-site retreats for you to enjoy!

As we pray daily for the many needs in our world, be assured that you and your loved ones are always in our hearts and in our prayers.

S. Carol Ann Petersen, OSB
Director
Sophia Center

What About COVID?

June 2, 2022

Join us in giving thanks that Covid numbers are allowing us to again welcome guests.

Because of our vulnerable sisters in Dooley, we continue to exercise caution, but we have been able to open up somewhat. We’re grateful to everyone who is taking steps to make this possible for us. We continue to monitor the situation and follow nursing home guidelines for guests who might want to visit the monastery dining rooms and chapels. Private retreatants who are vaccinated are welcome in our hermitage, but prepare and eat all of their meals there.

We offer a full array of retreats and programs via Zoom. And, for our onsite retreats, we are able to welcome fully vaccinated and boosted retreatants. Guests will wear masks in public spaces and practice social distancing. As they arrive, they will be asked to confirm that they are vaccinated, will have their temperatures taken, and will complete the usual form regarding exposure to Covid. We ask that you not come if you have been exposed to Covid or are showing symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat or new loss of taste or smell). If you attend a retreat and test positive within 14 days, please notify us, so we can alert other retreatants. The confidentiality of the individual will be honored.

Continue to watch our website for any updates. Be assured of our prayers and our commitment to keeping our guests and our vulnerable sisters safe.

Click on the button above to be directed to the Make a Donation page, and select Sophia Spirituality Center under the “Designation” menu. Thanks!

Connect

We invite you to keep in touch. One of the many things the pandemic 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 occur regularly at Sophia Center. There is a place to provide your physical mailing address if you wish to receive our mailers. Our next brochure will be mailed in July and will include a full schedule of zoom and onsite offerings for the fall and winter. 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.

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 Suzanne Fitzmaurice grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. She graduated from Creighton University with degrees in Elementary Education and Ministry, previously working throughout the south as an area director with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and then as a Director of Youth Ministry, prior to entering Mount St. Scholastica. She taught and was campus minister at Notre Dame de Sion High School before earning a Masters in Theological Studies at the Franciscan School of Theology. She taught at Cristo Rey Kansas City High School before she served as associate director of the Keeler Women’s Center in Kansas City. She joined the Sophia Spirituality Center as Director of Hospitality in 2021, also graduating from the Souljourners program and serving as a spiritual director.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

We currently are not keeping regular office hours. If you are coming for a retreat or a program, someone will be available to meet you at a pre-arranged time. 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 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. 

When COVID numbers cooperate, guests are 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.

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.

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 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.