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Knights of Columbus, Sisters of Life, and the Diocese of Bridgeport join forces to develop an international pro-life retreat center in Stamford
| October 10, 2004
Posted in Local News


STAMFORD - Stamford is poised to become an international destination for pro-life retreats and outreach, thanks to a unique partnership between the Knights of Columbus, the Sisters of Life, and the Diocese of Bridgeport.

The Knights of Columbus have purchased the Villa Maria Retreat Center at 151 Skymeadow Drive in North Stamford, which was formerly operated by the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters. The Knights have invited the Sisters of Life, a religious community dedicated to protecting and advancing a sense of the sacredness of all human life, to offer retreats for families and married couples, for women facing problem pregnancies, for pro-life leaders, and for Knights and their families.

The new "Villa Maria Guadalupe Life Center" will be blessed and dedicated by Bishop William E. Lori on Wednesday, October 20, at 2 p.m. Participants will include Bishop Thomas V. Daily, Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus; Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, S.V., Superior of the Sisters of Life, and Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson. The dedication ceremony will be followed by Mass in the center's chapel.

Accredited members of the media are welcome to attend. To register, please contact Partick Korten, Vice President for Communications for the Knights of Columbus: (203) 752-4474, or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).)

"I am very excited that the retreat ministry of the Bernadine Franciscan Sisters, who have been in the diocese for a very long time, will continue, thanks to the Sisters of Life and the Knights of Columbus," says Bishop Lori. "The Villa Maria Guadalupe Life Center will be a place where people, young and old, single and married, can gather to take seriously the call of Pope John Paul II that we Catholic people become a people of life and for life.

"What a wonderful blessing for the Catholic faithful of Fairfield County," Bishop Lori adds, "and especially during October, which the Catholic Church designates as 'Respect Life Month.'"

First-of-its-kind Center
Renovations are in progress at the 40-room center, with the first retreats scheduled to begin in early 2005. The Life Center will be the first-of-its kind international retreat center dedicated to providing spiritual guidance to the pro-life apostolate, which is a priority to the Knights of Columbus. The Knights, founded in 1882 in New Haven by Father Michael J. McGivney, are the world's largest Catholic family fraternal organization, with more than 1.6 million members. There are 32 Councils and 6,500 Knights in Fairfield County alone.

"This is a major new initiative that will affect the pro-life and pro-family programs of the Catholic Church now and for generations to come," says Carl A. Anderson. "Pope John Paul II has urged repeatedly that we pray for life and educate ourselves and others about threats to life. Our retreat center will help people from around the world to deepen their spiritual life and commitment to live the challenge of being a people for life."

Pro-Life Mission
The Sisters of Life were founded in 1991 by John Cardinal O'Connor of New York, who saw the need for a religious institute of women devoted exclusively to the protection of human life. The community has grown into a nationally-recognized group renowned for offering pro-life retreats at their convent in the Bronx, NY. Five Sisters of Life will live at Villa Maria, headed by the Superior, Sister Mary Grace.

"When Villa Maria became available in such near proximity to our headquarters in New Haven, it seemed Providence was sending us a message," says Anderson. "I have always admired the Sisters of Life and their work, and hoped that we could find a way to work together. Bishop Lori really made this project happen. Without his vision, commitment, and pastoral concern, it would not have happened."

Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, S.V., of the Sisters of Life, agrees. "How grateful we are to Mr. Anderson, the Knights of Columbus, and Bishop Lori for making this Life Center a reality!" she says. "We look forward to serving the spiritual needs of the Catholic faithful of the diocese and beyond, and especially the opportunity to offer retreats for youth and young adults on our Holy Father's teachings on the 'Theology of the Body.'

"Villa Maria Guadalupe Life Center is an answer to our prayers, and fulfills the founding vision of Cardinal O'Connor who saw the need for a major retreat center especially dedicated to serving all those who labor to build a culture of life," Mother Agnes concludes. "We pray that Our Lady of Guadalupe will intercede with her Son in making this Life Center a rich source of grace for the transformation of culture."

For more information on the Sisters of Life, visit www.sistersoflife.org.

For more information on the Knights of Columbus, visit www.kofc.org.