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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Groundbreaking of Domus Trinitatis Retreat Center in Iowa

Sr Marie Hessed gives the speech at the groundbreaking at Domus Trinitatis

The following article was posted on the Catholic Globe, Diocesan Newspaper for the diocese of Sioux City, Iowa.

By MICHELLE DELANEY, Globe staff reporter

After more than 40 years in religious life, Sister Marie Hesed has spent plenty of time in third-world countries serving others. Having spent numerous years working with missions inplaces like Mexico, Calcutta, Africa and Cuba she knows the strain put on missionaries and ministers.

In May of 2011, Sister Hesed came to Iowa with the hopes of making a long-time dream of hers a reality. She wants to establish a place where missionaries, those in ministries and laypeople can come to renew themselves.
“What struck me when I arrived here was the community. They were a very, very practicing, faithful Catholic community. We felt we were in a safe, peaceful, I would even say, stress-free environment in Willey,” said Sister Hesed. “To me, those were very strong elements I felt we needed for the center.” 

Sister Hesed is in the beginning process of building the center, Domus Trinitatis, which is Latin for home of the Trinity.

Encouraging signs

When she first came to Iowa, she began the process by focusing on selling sacramental wine through the Santa Maria Winery. John and Rose Guinan, owners of the winery, generously offered to give half of the proceeds from the wine to Sister Hesed and her renewal center. 

“I was always fascinated with her vision for the renewal and retreat center. We know from our daughter’s experience in missions,” said John, “that they’re basically on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There’s no way to step back and recharge.” 

John went on to say that Sister Hesed spoke to him about the people in vocations she would see burn out and leave because themapy couldn’t get recharged and maintain the constant pace of mission life. 

After being in Iowa for a bit, Sister Hesed received a gift that solidified her dream. Leon and Donna Kannebeck donated 31 acres of land for the center. 

“A big thing, for me, was to see if God wanted this. So, I waited to see if anybody would donate land,” said Sister Hesed. 

She admitted that she had been rather discouraged because people didn’t think that anyone, given the high value of land, would donate. 

“The gift is an extremely generous gift, I couldn’t quite believe it at first,” she said. The land is located one mile north of Willey, just outside of Carroll. 

Her vision 

With the land secured, Sister Hesed along with Sister Maria Amata, who came to Iowa in July of 2012 to help with the project, have been hard at work raising awareness and planning the center. 

Sister Hesed spoke of her desire to raise $1 million of the estimated $5 million needed for the center before beginning construction. She would like to break ground and start the convent this summer. 

The land will be divided into two sections, split by a stream that runs through the property. On one portion of the land, there will be at least 12 small spaciously placed, private cottages. These cottages will be available to married couples, priests, brothers, sisters and laity. This portion of the center will give people the opportunity for quiet reflection, prayer and time with nature. 

The convent, house for the resident priest and cottage for volunteers will be on the other side of the stream. This side will also fewature the chapel bell tower and reception area. convent
Sister Amata spoke on how the chapel will be open for adoration 24/7. 
“We want people to be able to come, pray and learn here,” said Sister Amata.

They plan to offer classes on spirituality, the faith, new evangelization and much more in the reception area.
There will also be two small barns on the property, an orchard, greenhouse, gardens and high towers to teach techniques for hydro and aqua-ponics. They already have two beehives they will bring onto the property. 

“Our desire is to become self-sustainable and to teach these practices to those who come so they can bring it back to their mission,” said Sister Hesed. 

The goal of the center is to bring people closer to God and renew themselves. The center will be open to anyone, not just Catholics because everyone needs a refuge for prayer and renewal.

There will be no set price for time spent at Domus Trinitatis. Sister Hesed stressed that she wants people to give freely what they can to thecenter. 

“What I’ve found is for people like us, who have taken a vow of poverty, and for other people, it is very expensive to get away even for a weekend,” she said. “So, freely given, freely give. That’s the whole premise of it.”

Community Involvement

Both Sister Hesed and Sister Amata noted that they are amazed, encouraged and overwhelmed by the amount of support they have received so far. 

They both have spent a considerable amount of time in hard, strenuous missions encountering broken people.

chapel“That’s why this is such a good place to come away and renew yourself spiritually,” said Sister Amata. “This is a fantastic place to have this center.”

Both sisters spoke on how the community has already given so much by being so faithful and accepting. “Their witness of practicing, their strong values and their family values already influence the center. By just being who they are, they are already helping in the renewal of those who are in difficult missions,” said Sister Hesed.
Sister Hesed has given several presentations on her mission and has had a great turnout for them. 
She has already had people come forward and volunteer services such as landscaping, gardening, building and farming. 

With the help of several people, four dinners have been scheduled to inform and raise funds for the project. The event, A Dinner for Domus Trinitatis, will be held at the Santa Maria Winery in Carroll on Feb. 6, Feb. 27, March 6 and March 27 with the social hour starting at 5 p.m. and the event starting at 6 p.m.

A nice meal will be served with a complimentary glass of wine. After the dinner, a member of the core group will do a brief introduction and then Sister Amata will give an overview on their society, Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT). Sister Hesed will then speak about the project, explain the importance of the project and discuss some of the details. 

Once Sister Hesed finishes, the Kennebecks will talk about what moved them to donate the land. To wrap things up, Tim Rial, a financial advisor, will ask people to pledge. 

After the presentation, people will be able to ask any questions they have. 

The event will cost $50 per person or $75 per couple. All proceeds will go toward Domus Trinitatis. Contact Julie Mashing at or (712) 292-3011 for more information or tickets to A Dinner for Domus Trinitatis. Each presentation can hold fifty people, so people are encouraged to sign up early. All denominations are welcome.

Another way the sisters are trying to raise funds is by asking people to take home a jar and fill it with their lose change. The jars are called St. Joseph jars because the foundation of this work was dedicated to St. Joseph. 

Community reactions

Julie Mashing has been helpingSister Hesed spread the word about Domus Trinitatis. 

“I was touched when I met herand felt a calling to let others know about this amazing person and the vision she has for the spiritual retreat center,” said Mashing. 

Mashing also explained that spending time with Sister Hesed has encouraged her to look at missionaries, priest and sisters as people, people with feelings struggles, just like everyone else. 
sisters“In the few months I have known Sister Marie Hesed, I have learned more about my faith, being humble and how God works every day. If she inspired me this way, there are no limits on how she will inspire the rest of you. Sister’s dream is God’s work,” said Mashing.
Amy McCargar has also been working with Sister Hesed and helping raise awareness for Domus Trinitatis. 

“I truly believe that God has brought Sister Hesed here for a reason. She has been all over the world, touched thousands of lives, worked directly with Mother Teresa and now she is in this little town in west central Iowa because God has called her to create Domus Trinitatis,” said McCargar.

McCargar went on to explain that she reads in the bible and hears at church how people are called to serve. She noted that this is the perfect chance to fill that call. 

“I feel so blessed that this retreat center will be in our community, in our diocese, in our state, and in the Midwest. I love that Sister Marie Hesed wants the retreat center to be not only for missionaries, but for priests, nuns, couples and people of any religion and families. I look forward to taking my family to the center, for my children to be in the presence of strong spiritual leaders and to be able to learn and help with the agriculture aspect of the center,” said McCargar.

The center is predicted to take three to five years to build. Domus Trinitatis aims to become an “epicenter of spirituality and the new evangelization.”

More information can be found by following Domus Trinitatis on Facebook.