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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Regarding COVID-19 and what we are doing at Sophia
The safety of our guests, staff and sisters continues to be uppermost in our minds. Several church groups who had planned to come to use our space in September and October have been forced to cancel out of an abundance of caution, which we understand and support.
On our calendar, you will see many retreats scheduled to be held via Zoom. We are confident you will find any number of offerings that will lift your spirit and nourish your soul. If you haven’t participated in a Zoom retreat, we encourage you to give it a try. Evaluations from previous Zoom retreats have rated presenters and the Zoom format excellent. We do have several one day retreats scheduled at Sophia that are open to those who are fully vaccinated and willing to wear masks while on our campus. We will make every effort to keep you safe if you choose to attend.
For now, we will continue welcoming private retreatants who have been fully vaccinated to our Just Bee hermitage. Guests will not have the option of eating in the dining room, attending prayers with the sisters or entering the monastery. However, they will be welcome to enjoy silence in the beautiful and comfortable hermitage, walk the grounds, and use Sophia Center during business hours. Please use the form on the Sophia Center website if you are interested, or call us at 913.360.6173.
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!
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 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
Office hours have been adjusted during the COVID-19 pandemic, and are currently from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Tuesday 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.
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.