Sister of St. Joseph Marcy Springer, left, and Jill Snyder, ministry assistant, stand next to a sign welcoming retreatants to the new location for Francis House of Prayer. The spiritual center relocated from Rancocas. Rich Hundley photo
Sister of St. Joseph Marcy Springer, left, and Jill Snyder, ministry assistant, stand next to a sign welcoming retreatants to the new location for Francis House of Prayer. The spiritual center relocated from Rancocas. Rich Hundley photo

“It is amazing,” Sister of St. Joseph Marcy Springer says as she walks the property of Francis House of Prayer, a bird chirp the only sound interrupting the rustle of leaves in tall trees.

“People need time and space with God,” the diocesan retreat house director continues. “Each person becoming more prayerful makes a difference in the world – not only their world— because as each person comes to peace and oneness with God, that radiates out.”

Photo Gallery: Francis House of Prayer

On a recent sunny morning, Sister Marcy looks out on the two-acre tract and surrounding lands that the retreat house now calls home. After 45 years in Rancocas, Francis House of Prayer has moved to Allentown and reopened its doors.

Francis House – which offers spiritual direction, retreats and faith-based programs on a daily, weekly or monthly basis – is reached by driving through miles of Monmouth County countryside. The house, cozily nestled between a preserved horse farm and quiet parkland, was built in the 1850s. It’s been recently renovated to include a chapel, kitchen, gathering spaces and fresh new bedrooms, each of which has its own bathroom.

“People are saying that the ride to the retreat house is like beginning the retreat,” Sister Marcy says with a smile.

A retreat, she adds, that is much-needed in today’s society. “A house of prayer, a spiritual center is a great gift and such a necessity in this time of our culture. People are hungry for it.”

Ministry assistant Jill Snyder agrees. “People are finding us because they are in great need of quiet, being with God and allowing him to enter into one’s awareness.”

More people will be rediscovering its services, too, as Francis House of Prayer readies for the official dedication Oct. 6 with Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M.

“God so desires an intimate relationship with people, and Francis House is a wonderful way for that to happen,” Sister Marcy says. “Choose one or two opportunities that appeal to you and come.”