Discover Christ’s Peace House of Prayer, the archdiocese’s best-kept secret
by Katie Hyde
EASTON — It’s a sharp left off a bumpy gravel road amid rolling hills in rural Kansas. Despite a less than blissful drive to the spot, the 120 acres of rural land known as Christ’s Peace House of Prayer instantly greet you with the serenity that can only be found far away from the daily grind.
Miles of shady trails, a glass-enclosed chapel open to the sun, and peaceful, rustic cabins for retreatants seeking solitude all await members of the archdiocese looking to get away from the stresses of life and reconnect with their faith.
Christ’s Peace House of Prayer has been an official archdiocesan house of prayer since Father Ed Hays, at the
request of Archbishop Ignatius J. Strecker, founded it in 1972. The place was founded on the Scripture passages “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46: 11) and “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples” (Is 56: 7).
For 40 years, the spot has provided a ministry of prayer, relaxation and spiritual guidance to many within the archdiocese.
A change in focus
From its inception in the ’70s, many changes have been made to what was originally a very ecumenical house of prayer, said director Vince Eimer.
Beginning last year, Christ’s Peace House of Prayer, formerly known as Shantivanam, updated its look and feel to be more “mainstream Catholic.”
To create this mainstream focus, most religious symbols from other faith expressions were removed from the property and were replaced with Catholic symbols. Additionally, the Liturgy of the Hours has replaced what used to be more eclectic and interfaith prayers during the day.
Eimer approves of the change in focus, while appreciating the interfaith focus of years past.
“For the time it was Shantivanam, it was better for that time and filled some of the needs of [those] who felt more on the fringe,” Eimer said. “But for where the church is now — and the need for evangelization — what we’re doing now is more appropriate for our time so that faith can be expressed now for the re-evangelization of Catholics.”
“A lot of people found God [at Shantivanam],” Eimer continued. “It was a blessing for many people’s lives.”
Dorthy Brandwein of Ascension Parish in Overland Park can attest to that. She started going to Shantivanam 10 years ago after her mother passed away.
“It was a haven of great consolation and solace,” Brandwein said. “I started going out there, and then I was hooked.”
That was the first of 20 trips over 10 years.
“Everyone needs a place to go to help us get into our interior space,” Brandwein said.
A hopeful future
Eimer hopes that though some things have changed at Christ’s Peace House of Prayer, members of the archdiocese will continue to utilize it as a respite from the struggles and distractions of life.
“Hopefully, we can convince people to come out and see what’s here,” Eimer said. “Hopefully, some people will find this a cause worthy to donate to.”
Eimer hopes for a future where many people visit for extended retreats ranging from a weekend to three months. He also expressed the hope that groups of up to 40 people will begin utilizing Christ’s Peace House of Prayer as the location for their retreats.
“People come and they love the place,” he added. “They tell me, ‘How did I not know about this before?’”
That’s why Eimer is working to spread the message of the house’s ministry.
“I really want people to know,” said Eimer, “that this is a place of peace and quiet . . . to think: ‘I can get away; I can rest. I can have some quiet for a change and recharge my batteries without all the noise.’”
But Eimer has another vision for the future of Christ’s Peace House of Prayer: He is creating a school of prayer. Eimer, who has completed almost 20,000 hours of contemplative prayer over 21 years, knows a thing or two about prayer.
“[Contemplative prayer] has transformed me,” Eimer said. “My mind is much clearer, and my heart is much more full and open.”
Eimer hopes the staff can teach retreatants different types of prayer to enhance spiritual life, in addition to the spiritual guidance offered to all retreatants.
“We can be like mechanics to help people fine-tune their prayer lives,” said Eimer.
After 20 years of fine-tuning, Brandwein calls Christ’s Peace of Prayer her “favorite place.”
“There we learn, we grow, we get closer to God,” Brandwein said. “It is a wonderful place for discernment, peace, and solace.”
Find serenity today
Vince Eimer’s guide to a prayerful day for beginners:
- Love God with all your heart: Spend 10 minutes in devotional prayer (lectio divina), and go to daily Mass if possible. Try to say spontaneous prayer throughout the day.
- Love God with all your mind: Read and meditate on the Scriptures for 10 minutes. Take a pericope (selection) of the Bible that stirs your love of God, read it slowly, and reflect on it. Then apply the passage to your life.
- Love God with all your soul: Practice contemplative prayer for five minutes. To do this, sit in a quiet and restful place. Breathe in the name of Jesus until you feel you are at peace. Simply sit in the presence of God.
- Love God with all your strength: Have the perseverance to do these prayers every day, gradually praying more frequently for longer periods of time.
- Love your neighbor: When someone cuts you off for a parking spot or rushes in front of you in the checkout line with 50 items, use that time to pray for that person.
If you would like to spend a day in prayerful solitude with God, Christ’s Peace House of Prayer offers monthly contemplative retreat days from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Retreatants participate in both contemplative prayer and contemplative walking periods on the grounds. These are offered usually every third Saturday of the month (Aug. 18, Sept. 15, Oct. 20, Nov. 17, and Dec. 15) for a suggested donation of $25. To register, contact Christ’s Peace at (913) 773-8225 or send an email to: info@ChristsPeace.com.
Christ’s Peace House of Prayer welcomes guests for personal or group retreats, tours and spiritual direction. Call (913) 773-8255 or send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org with the date(s) you would like to make a retreat, schedule a spiritual direction appointment, or take a tour. If making a retreat, indicate whether you want to stay in a cabin, in the guest wing, or in a hermitage. The staff will respond by email to let you know if it can accommodate your request. For more information, visit Christ’s Peace House of Prayer’s website at: www.archkck.org/houseofprayer.