The Story of The Christine Center
The Christine Center began in 1980 with the help of the Wheaton Franciscans in the spiritual lineage of St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi.
Under the direction of Sister Virginia Mary Barta, OSF, it was founded as a place for solitude and meditation for people of all spiritual paths. Her faithful early companion was S. Davina Peitz, OSF. Two other Wheaton Franciscan Sisters also served for many years at the Center, S. Josine Doering and S. Charlotte Schmid.
A 251 acre farm consisting of a barn, house and several sheds was purchased. Friends and neighbors came to help clean and begin the work of remodeling and construction. By 1982 the barn was transformed into a meditation hall, seminar area and library, and the first hermitages were built. A year later the silo became the chapel. In the next few years, fifteen hermitages were built in the forest for spiritual seekers who came to live, work and meditate.
Gradually, a series of seminars was developed to accommodate the many people who sought knowledge and experience in meditation and spirituality.
The presence at the Christine Center of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration began in 1987 when Sister Johanna Seubert began her long history of presence, complete dedication and leadership at the Center. S. Margaret Wagner, FSPA also served at the Center for many years and presently the Director of the Christine Center is Sister Cecilia Corcoran, FSPA.
On July 11, 1990, the center was incorporated with its own Board of Directors. The Center grew and flourished during the 90′s so that in 1999 a decision was made to build a new facility, to renovate the existing hermitages, and the barn was sold for a residence. Bathrooms and kitchenettes were put into six hermitages and construction of the new building began in May, 2000. The new facility was completed and opened in February, 2001. The dedication of the new facility took place in July, 2001.
The Center offerings, staff, and retreatants continue to evolve and expand. With the guidance of many people over the years, the Center is creating a national reputation as a place of deep spirituality. Focus is on the contemplative life with programs that offer wisdom from the world’s religious traditions, including our Catholic roots.
Presenters come from Minneapolis/St Paul, Chicago, California, Hawaii, Virginia, throughout Wisconsin and other places to offer excellent programs in keeping with The Center’s mission. Private retreatants and groups continue to drive from nearby or fly from afar to experience the environment and happenings at the Christine Center.
One emphasis of the new Christine Center is on meditation and mystical spirituality for individual and global transformation. Program listings reflect a holistic approach, with something for body, mind and spirit. Today the signature program carries forward the original vision of deep transformative spiritual work.
Another emphasis is on serving with excellence the groups and individuals who come here for spiritual nourishment.
Our history continues to unfold in wondrous and unforeseen ways as we open to the manifestations of God.
It also continues to be blessed and inspired by the life of S. Virginia Mary Barta, OSF who died on Friday, March 13, 2009. The closing rituals of her life, wake and funeral at her motherhouse in Wheaton, Illinois, were a heartfelt tribute to a woman religious whose spirit lives in the ethos of the Christine Center. Perhaps it can best be expressed in the words Virginia used to describe how she would like to be remembered: “As an aware and loving person who walked consciously with an open, loving, and compassionate heart.”