Rev. Thomas Leitner

Rev. Thomas Leitner

SCHUYLER — The St. Benedict Center is set to reopen its doors. 

After closing in mid-March to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, the retreat venue will begin hosting events in June, but a number of guidelines will be followed to protect the health of participants and facilitators.

“We will go about reopening with caution and great concern for everyone’s health and safety,” said the Rev. Thomas Leitner in the monastery’s regular blog. “We ask those who have a health problem or are older to wait for a while yet before coming.”

The number of people allowed in the conference rooms will be limited in keeping with the orders of the health department. Visitors will be required to wear a mask when they are indoors and around other people as a sign of respect for their health and the health of others. Six-foot social distancing will be observed in conference rooms and throughout the facility.

“We are continuing and stepping up our disinfection practices. Meals will be served by the kitchen personnel. In the dining area, tables and seating will be in conformity with social distancing and number allowed,” Leitner said.

Live-streaming of Masses and some of the Liturgy of the Hour will continue after the center opens.

Upcoming events at the center include a program on contemplative photography set for Saturday, June 13.

The event will run from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and will be facilitated by Rita Otis, who has completed three levels of training with the Miksang Institute for Contemplative Photography. The retreat is designed to nurture one’s ability to see with an “inner eye.”

Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m.

On Saturday, June 20, the Rev. Jeffrey Loseke, a longtime priest with the Archdiocese of Omaha and current pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Gretna, will host a program called “Real Presence: Encountering Jesus in Word and Sacrament.”

Participants will be guided through scriptural prayer and sacramental wonder to an encounter with the real presence of Christ during this retreat.

The program will begin with registration at 8:30 a.m. and will run from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

The first weekend-long retreat will take place beginning at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 10, and continuing until after lunch on Sunday, July 12.

Facilitated by Wil Hernandez, the retreat will explore the profound dynamics of spiritual life as God’s beloved — chosen and blessed before the foundation of the world while at the same present time representing a life that is broken and given as bread for others.

Hernandez is an international retreat leader, spiritual director and author of several books on Henri Nouwen, whose work inspired the “Chosen, Blessed, Broken and Given” retreat.

A guided and directed retreat will take place beginning at 6 p.m. Sunday, July 26, and conclude at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 1.

During this retreat, the participants will gather daily for a conference. Each participant will meet individually with one of the directors every day.

It will provide an opportunity for participants to join the monks for Mass and prayer and enjoy the center’s grounds and artwork.

The Rev. Michael McDermott, pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish in Sidney; Sister Ann Marie Petrylka, a pastoral minister at St. Leo’s Parish in Omaha; the Rev. Kevin Schneider of Creighton Prep High School in Omaha; and Ellen Lierk of Alliance will facilitate the event.

Program fees apply to each of the events. Early registration is recommended. Contact the St. Benedict Center at 402-352-8819, or visit

In other news

During this time of living with COVID-19, the Norfolk Ministerial Association is inviting churches to ring their church bells at noon each day.