Local Ministry Insider

Retreat house director puts old skills to new use

Vince Eimer is the director of Christ’s Peace House of Prayer in Easton. As director, he leads retreats, gives spiritual direction and is even the main cook at the retreat house. LEAVEN FILE PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

This week, director of Christ’s Peace House of Prayer takes us inside his ministry in Easton. Meet: Vince Eimer.

Q. What is your title and where do you minister? 

I am the director of Christ’s Peace House of Prayer in Easton. We are on 120 wooded acres with many cabins and guest rooms for guests to come and be with the Lord. This includes retreats and personal reflection.

Q. Please describe what you do.

A. I have many jobs that I do as director. I lead retreats to help people come to know God better, I give spiritual direction to people who want someone to guide them in how to pray and live as followers of Jesus. I am also the main cook and take care of the finances by paying bills and making sure we pay those who work here. I also help in getting the living spaces cleaned for guests and taking reservations for those who want to come on retreat.

Q. How would you describe how that fits into the larger mission of the Catholic Church? 

A. Our role is to deepen the life people live in their home parishes by helping them grow closer to Jesus. We give people a place to get away and spend time with God in private or on group retreats where they can learn how to practically develop an intimate friendship with Jesus.

Q. Is this what you set out to do in life? 

A. Yes, but only in a very general way. As a young man, I wanted to be a baseball coach and studied physical education in college. I went to graduate school to learn how to be a psychological counselor as well, so I could help students in another way.  

Q. So, what road led you to this place? 

A. In graduate school, I had a conversion experience and fell in love with Jesus. Since then, my life has become a searching to do his will while fighting against my own selfishness. I first learned to serve him as a Benedictine monk. After a long time there, I left the monastery and went to California, where I learned to cook and looked for God in a few oddly placed nooks and crannies. I returned to Missouri in 2005 to care for my mother until she died in 2009. I came here in 2010 because one of my monk friends said they needed a cook. Surprising to me, I became director about a year later. 

Q. Did you collect some skills from other jobs along the way that have proved surprisingly applicable?

A. I was an English teacher at Conception Seminary College (in Conception, Missouri). I now lead retreats where I teach people about Jesus and our faith. It is not English, but it is the language of God’s love for us. I was trained as a cook in California and never thought I would use that skill at a house of prayer. We are body and soul, and both get hungry.

Q. What would the average Catholic be most surprised to learn about your job? 

I would guess that most people would not think I did as much cleaning and yard work as I actually do. When you think about it, 120 acres is a lot!

Q. Who does your ministry primarily serve? 

A. Our ministry primarily serves the people of the archdiocese and other Catholics.

Q. What do you wish everybody knew about your ministry? 

A. I wish people knew how happy it makes me to take care of guests and their needs. There is such joy in giving of yourself once you try to do it all the time. I smile on the inside seeing the happiness in our guests or anyone else. One typical way of my helping guests is by listening to their difficult situations and helping them get a new spiritual perspective. One guest did not believe God loved her. Through God’s grace, she came away with a renewed faith after being reminded of God’s words of love for her that she had forgotten.

Q. Why does the world need more of what you’re offering, especially now? 

A. Time with God brings God’s life into people in a fuller way, in a way that can change them. Once they taste the deep joy and peace that is there with him, they are no longer the same people. This can totally transform our society and the world.

Q: What have you learned about people in this job? 

A. There are deep wells of kindness and generosity in people that would surprise many, especially once they discovered it in themselves. It is there!

Q. What have you learned about yourself? 

A. I have more patience than I would have ever believed possible. Living here gave me situations where I had to learn to be patient. I used to be impatient about physical work. It is a necessity here. I had to adjust by learning to accept what needed to be done and to just do it without wanting to be doing something else. It took about a year!

Q. How has it changed the way you view your identity as a Catholic?

A. My belief in the fullness of faith found in the Catholic Church is much stronger. Our church is the body of Christ, glorious and loving.

More about Vince Eimer

Vince Eimer is not only the director of Christ’s Peace House of Prayer — he is also a trained cook. The Leaven asked Eimer for the recipe to a simple dish his retreatants seem to like.

Rice and vegetables

1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 bag frozen mixed veggies
1 large onion diced
One-half cup Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon cumin
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the rice
Saute the onions in 2 tablespoons of olive oil
Thaw out the veggies
Add and mix all the ingredients, except the Parmesan
When ready to serve, add the Parmesan and stir well
Serve and eat

Vince Elmer is a member of St. Lawrence/St. Joseph of the Valley, where he lectors and occasionally leads singing.

About the author

The Leaven

The Leaven is the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

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