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.


We invite you to keep in touch with us by subscribing to our regular monthly eNewsletters. It’s the best way for you to keep up with our upcoming retreat offerings and all that is happening at Sophia Spirituality Center. Don’t forget to also follow us on Facebook! We look forward to welcoming you into our Sophia community. 

How big is God?

A Message from Sister Carol Ann, June 1, 2024

Having recently celebrated the feasts of Easter, Pentecost and the Holy Trinity and preparing for the feast of Corpus Christi, I find myself pondering the question: how big is God? I see examples around me each day of people (and sometimes I am one of them) trying to put limits on God, to make God like us. We think things like: God is merciful, but God couldn’t possibly show mercy to him. God is all loving, but God couldn’t possibly love her. God made thousands of varieties of birds, all unique and beautiful, but God couldn’t possibly have meant to make those people.

Our God made the galaxies, made mountains and oceans, made the smallest insect and the largest mammal. God whispers and God thunders. God makes sweet and God makes sour. But even realizing this, our minds often make God small and puny and like us, with our prejudices and our insecurities.

As the years roll by, I am realizing more and more that God is so much bigger than we let God be. My prayer during these summer months when there is so much beauty surrounding us is this: God, let me see Your majesty in every person. Keep expanding my heart so I welcome all people without exception. Let me truly believe that each person is made in Your image and likeness and may I respond with love as big as Yours.

Our greatest joy at Sophia is ministering to the wide variety of people who come to participate in our programs. You bring hearts searching for God, for peace and for meaning in your lives. You are the face of Christ to us, and we look forward to welcoming you to programs both in person and on Zoom. We have all our fall/winter programs scheduled and are beginning to take reservations on our website. Make plans now so you don’t miss the opportunity.

Be assured of our prayers during these summer days.

S. Carol Ann Petersen

Director of Sophia Center

We are always grateful for the wonderful support we receive for our ministry. Please select “Sophia Spirituality Center” under the designation menu.

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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. 

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 at Sophia Center and also 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.

September, 2023

Approximately one week prior to an on-site program, Sophia Center pays housekeeping to clean and ready the rooms and the kitchen staff purchases food and prepares meals for our guests. Additional staff works to organize materials and ensure everything is ready for your arrival. Also, we compensate our presenters independent of the number of retreatants registered for both Zoom and on-site retreats. In order to help offset the financial impact of cancellations, we have implemented the following:

  • Cancellation of your registration:
    • Ordinarily we ask for a 25% deposit. In order to receive a full refund, minus a $15 processing fee, we require 2-weeks notice of cancellation.
  • A request for transfer of payments made to another retreat or program:
    • Requests must be received no less than 14 days prior to the scheduled start date of the retreat or program. As a courtesy, Sophia Spirituality Center will transfer your payment to another Sophia Center offering. If you cancel your registration for that retreat as well or, if after one year, the funds have not been utilized, they will be recorded as a donation gift to Sophia Center. Please note that funds cannot be transferred for use with spiritual direction or massage.
  • If Sophia Spirituality Center must cancel for any reason: You will be offered the option of transferring your payment to another offering or receiving a full refund for the total amount paid.

Please consider donating your payment as a gift to Sophia Center if you are in a position to do so. The Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica subsidize our retreats and programs, making it possible for us to offer them at or below the actual cost. 

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.

Sister Elizabeth has a Master of Arts in Religion and the Environment from the University of the South School of Theology in Sewanee, TN. She is a board and staff member of the Center for Deep Green Faith which provides offerings that blend eco-theology with eco-spirituality grounded in the Christian tradition. She is an alumna of the Center’s Contemplation and Care for Creation Certificate Program and provides workshops and retreats at Sophia Center and elsewhere.

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.  Donna enjoys meeting new people and putting her creative skills to work for Sophia. You will most likely see her online, supporting our Zoom presenters and participants.

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.  After she graduated from the Souljourners Spiritual Direction Formation Program in 2005, she joined the Souljourners staff. Currently, Mary Kay is a part of the Souljourners Leadership team and the Sophia Center staff.  

Marcia Ziska, OSB has been a member of the Benedictine Sisters at Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison, Kansas for 49  years. A retired certified hospital chaplain, she has served her community in pastoral care, and formation work, and as associate director of the Sophia Center.  She was privileged to coordinate the Rome Renewal Program for English-speaking Benedictine women worldwide from 2003-2010. She served on the NRVC board and two terms with the ABFC Leadership team. She currently is the vocation director, a spiritual director, and a staff member for Souljourners, the spiritual direction training program.
Sr. Marcia received an MA in Christian Spirituality from Creighton University in Omaha, in 1990 and a professional certificate in spiritual gerontology from the Johnson Institute in 2007. She enjoys making jelly for the monastery gift shop and as gifts, along with making lemon meringue pie and lemon curd from fresh Arizona lemons sent by her sister, Barb.

Sr. Patricia ministered as a teacher for many years in Missouri and Kansas and also worked at Keeler Women’s Center. She is a graduate of the Souljourners formation program for spiritual directors and currently serves as part of the Leadership Team. Sr. Patricia also currently serves as Community Formation Director and offers spiritual direction. She enjoys art, being outdoors, arranging flowers for the chapels, working with the bees, and making various kinds of rosaries for Monastery Goods.

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.

Mark Lepper serves as the Hospitality Coordinator at the Sophia Center. He has served in ministry at churches in Nebraska, Illinois, and Minnesota. Prior to coming to Sophia Center, he lived and worked with adults with developmental disabilities at L’Arche Heartland in Overland Park for 12 years. Mark is currently in the Souljourners program and is in the process of becoming an oblate of the Mount. He looks forward to welcoming you at your next visit to the Sophia Center!