Center Connections – August 2019


News and events at the


A little history, and a question:
What’s in your chicken coop?

Many people have delighted me with stories about the history of the conference center. One of the first was Teresa Abernethy Harrow. As a little girl, she often visited her grandparent’s farm known as the Abernethy Farm. Thirty years ago, that pastoral farmstead became the main property of the Catholic Conference Center.
When she was young, Teresa lived in the house we now call the Saint Francis Retreat House. In fact, she remembers sleeping in the house when it was just a basement. Her father had not yet built the main floor.
A prominent remnant of this farm is the old barn (a gem of a structure I hope to polish and make into a signature event space – but save that for another story). Not so prominent on the property are some other unique features: an old smoke house, an outhouse, what appears to be the collapsed remnants of a still, and a little white house we’ve since named Saint Mary’s House, which coincidently was occupied in the day by Teresa’s Aunt Mary.
In our early conversations, Teresa mentioned it would be nice to have some memento from the farm and the days she remembers so fondly. After exploring a few possibilities, we shifted our focus on another outbuilding, an abandoned chicken coop. On the floor of the coop were a disarray of farming items: a corn husker, some barb wire, fence posts, and stacks of discarded pine boards. At the time her son, continuing on those farmer genes, was building a cabin on some isolated acreage near Hiddenite. We decided it would be a wonderful addition to his farm to repurpose some items, and carry forward a legacy and tradition. In the array of discarded items, they found several which he could put to use.
One of the more amazing transformations came from the old pine boards. With the eye of a true artisan, the great-grandson reshaped these boards. They are now featured prominently on the ceiling of the cabin he is building (see photos).
There is a little spiritual metaphor embedded in this story. In our own spiritual ‘chicken coop’, we have tossed a lot of items aside as neglected and abandoned. These could be as simple as prayer habits that used to give us delight but are now forgotten, or as complex as pains from the past which we don’t want to revisit. In both, God is the great artisan and can mold and reshape these items into something noble and beautiful, and fittingly bring honor and glory of his house. The question: What is sitting in your spiritual ‘chicken coop’ waiting for a little reshaping and renewal?

Deacon Scott D. Gilfillan

Director, Catholic Conference Center
O Lord, I love the house in which you dwell, and the place where your glory abides. Ps 26



Menus for the New Year!

Executive Chef Kris Cordes has packaged together some unbelievable, mouth-watering sample menus for the upcoming year. Check them out below. Breakfast is not shown, but includes options with seasoned eggs, creamy grits, and cheddar hash browns, and two one-of-a-kind delights: Maple Bacon Biscuits and French Toast Casserole. Bon appetit!



Chapel gets a new look

New statues hand-carved out of olive wood by a family in Bethlehem are resting upon new, custom-built walnut shelves. A big thanks to all of your support. The chapel is definitely a place where you’ll want to spend some time next time you visit.



Register NOW!


Reading the Signs of the Times through the Eyes of St. Francis
Finding Hope and Joy in a Rapidly Changing World
16-18 Aug-2019

Don’t miss this opportunity to find joy and hope, even when the world around you seems to have lost its way. Experience this one of a kind retreat, help dispel the darkness of our present time and tap into the source of unbridled joy and hope that Saint Francis found in a culture gone awry. Franciscan Friar Father Peter Tremblay will be the retreat master and will offer a unique perspective on emerging trends and a Franciscan response. Participants will discover ways to deepen their faith, enliven their hope, and share that same joy of St. Francis in the midst of challenging times.

Register NOW. Time is running out.

Knights of Columbus receive a special discount. Click here for information or email questions, or simply call 828.327.7441.


Marriage Preparation Workshop

The Family Life program of the Diocese of Charlotte offers one-day marriage preparation workshops to help couples continue to build a solid foundation for their marriage. The format for the workshop includes presentations, journaling, private partner-to-partner discussions, and small and large group discussions. Workshop topics include:

Marriage as Sacrament and Covenant

Families of Origin and Procreation

Marital Sexuality and Natural Family Planning

Communication and Conflict Resolution

Money and Finances

Click here for more Information or to Register


Domestic Church: Couple’s Evangelization Retreat
26-29 Sep 2019

The retreat is focused on learning to utilize the graces of the sacrament of matrimony in your daily life in order to help you, your spouse and family on your path to heaven. Time for prayer, mass, spiritual talks, and "wasting time together" with your spouse. Come strengthen your marriage with a program designed by a priest from Poland who was friends with Saint JPII.

Click here for more information on the Domestic Church, or contact Jessica Kelty at 828-244-6659 with any questions.

Deposit needed by July 21st.


Women’s Walk With Christ Weekend
13-15 Sep-2019

An intense, life-changing weekend designed for women to learn more about themselves and to receive healing from Christ. Visit the website for more information or to register.


Faith Formation In-Service Training

Save the Date


Spiritual Retreat for Women
27-29 Sep-2019

Do you feel like your soul is tired and out of shape? Join other women in the area for a 3-day spiritual recharge. Detach from daily distractions while you reflect on your spiritual journey. Surrounded by beautiful mountains, encounter a deeper intimacy with God and your call to holiness through daily Mass, guided meditations, confession, adoration, spiritual direction and interior silence. For more information, contact Kate Boschini or visit website for more information, or click here to register.


15-22 Sep-2019
The Charlotte Institute is completely filled. There are still slots for 2019 in Phoenix and maybe a second Charlotte institute if there is enough interest. Click here if you would like more information.


11-13 Oct 2019
The Deacon Couple: Friends of the Bridegroom
Hearing, Celebrating, and Sharing the Word of God
The conference center always looks forward to hosting the annual retreat for deacons in the diocese and their wives. This year the participants will hear a powerful message from the pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes, Father Benjamin Roberts. Contact Deacon John Martino for more information.


Women in Recovery Annual Retreat
8-10 Nov 2019
If interested, contact The Center for more information.

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"Come away to a secluded place and rest awhile." Mk 6:31
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