"We are all searching for peace, joy and security....in other words...union with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Wile at St. Felix, one becomes aware that God is so near ~ closer than we are to ourselves.
The place is holy and one can easily enter prayer ~ from there all other graces are ours!
I highly recommend using St. Felix Catholic Center for retreats and/or other Sacred events. Venerable Solanus Casey has given this beautiful place back to the Church..."
Come and marvel at God's Goodness so evident there!
"What a blessing it was to be on retreat at St. Felix Catholic Center! I stayed in a room across from the room where Venerable Father Soanus Casey used to reside. I could see how the Monastery in its spacious setting and with its classic monastic ejaculations written on the hallways' ceilings must have uplifted this holy man's spirits. The silence and prayerful atmosphere I experienced on my retreat would have me recommend this retreat site for anyone who is looking to come away and just be with God, while being inspired by the lives of holy Capuchins who have sanctified the grounds in years past."
A Franciscan Sister Minor
We were privileged to visit St. Felix Catholic Center in Huntington this past Christmas season (2010) while visiting the Franciscan Brothers Minor in Fort Wayne. We are Br Leo's family. Our group included Br Leo's mother Marissa, myself, his sister Melanie (age 17) and Melanie's companion Kevin Wood (also age 17). We traveled from Philadelphia to celebrate the Chrismas Octave and Marissa's 50th birthday with the Franciscan Brothers and Sisters.
While visiting, Br Leo asked fi we would like to take a tour of St. Felix Catholic Center in Huntington. Br Leo was pretty excited to share this "jewel" with us.
In 2010 I was on pilgrimage to Rome, and visited the tomb of St. Felix of Cantalice in Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini. A great Capuchin Saint, St Felix is sometimes referrred to as the "beggar of Rome" and also by those whom he ministered to, as "Brother Deo Gratias", since he woudl frequently reply with "Deo Gratias". So I was excited when I first heard of an old friary named after St Felix. But I soon discovered that the focus on the friary was because of one of its former residents. Blessed Solanus Casey resided here for 10 years. Although I now live several generations after Blessed Solanus, I am proud to share some roots with him as a fellow Wisconsinite, and knowing he studied and was Ordained in Milwaukee, my hometown.
When we arrived at the Friary, we were greeted by the property manager/caretaker with warm enthusiasm, as we started a tour of the Friary. Our guide was very through and generous, providing as many details as we could handle. I found myself looking at the detailed woodworking, the flooring, the restoration efforts, etc. and trying to form a picture in my mind, of how the Franciscan friars would walk the halls, pray in their cells, making their way to the chapel for communal prayer, the refectory, etc. I tried to reflect on how they would live their daily life. It has been reported that the restoration efforts are focusing on returning the friary to "the look and feel of the original". I can see it already taking shape. Immediately, I felt that I was in a house of prayer. As we made our way towards the main chapel/sanctuary, we stood in the sacristy, I tried to imagine the priest and others preparing for the Holy Mass, perhaps even Fr Solanus himself. I learned that previous owners had made a few changes to the interior, especially the main chapel and sanctuary, but I was pleased to learn that the upper chapel was still intact, and ready for new friars to use almost immediately. We were able to peer into the room where Fr Solanus Casey had stayed while residing here. The room was secured as an unadorned shrine to Blessed Solanus Casey. Some of his personal items are on display. I saw a phone in the room. I was told that Fr Solanus spent many hours giving counsel, of which he was notable. It was another peaceful moment on our tour.
As we toured as a group, I was wondering what others felt as we walked by empty rooms and halls. I kept imaging Franciscan Brothers living their daily prayer life, working on their apostolates. Walking through the Friary, I was reminded of the experiences I had while on Pilgrimage to Rome, and Assisi, Italy. Imagine yourself in a spirit of pilgrimage, walking the same paths and streets, going into the same churches, praying as did the early Christians. Even walking the same streets as St Francis. Being where they have been. That same spirit of connection or universality was felt while in St Felix Friary. Humble Friars live their prayer life in, and around this place in years past. Now we were in this same place being accompanied by a prayerful Franciscan Brother, our won son, Br Leo. Over 800 years of Franciscan life continues throughout the world, including in Huntington and Ft Wayne. Deo Gratias.
A visit to the beautiful grotto of Our Lady finished our tour. At night, the grotto was lit up, providing us a place to say our prayers of thanksgiving and take a few more family photos.
Although the building had changed ownership through the years, it is good to have the friary now under the care of a benevolent foundation, such as the Mary Cross Tippmann Foundation. St Felix Friary is an excellent place for retreats, hermitage, or even perhaps as an institute of priestly formation.
Pray that this historical and reverent establishment be used for the good of God's people, and for the good of The Church, and under the care of the Mary Cross Tippmann Foundation, I believe it will.
Blessed Solanus, Pray for us.
"St. Felix Catholic Center is a beautiful place to have a retreat. The silence, austerity, and simplicity is helpful to be alone with God in prayer. The beauty of the surrounding countryside and the beauty of the traditional Chapel lifts one's heart to God!"
A Franciscan Sister Minor
"My retreat this advent at St. Felix's was full of grace. More than I can know. I had the most grace filled Christmas this year largely due to the beautiful retreat leading up to Christmas. St. Felix's was a great place for retreat because there was much room for silence and solitude to pray. We had Holy Mass everyday in the Church where the Friars of years past celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
The cell where I stayed was across the hall from Ven. Fr. Solanus' cell. I chose this cell because I wanted to remember him and have his intercession. In fact my sisters and I had him surrounded because we wanted to be close to Fr. Solanus - naturally.
I enjoyed running and walking everyday in the woods and fields behind the Friary. It was so beautiful. God favored me with encounters with his wild creatures, a big buck, a family of deer and other deer, a rabbit and the best was this red fox that was running towards me unaware of my presence until he got maybe 10 ft. close - then he took off. I cannot describe the graces of our retreat this Advent, just, I thank God for them."
A Franciscan Sister Minor