CHESTERTOWN An annual Garage Sale event took place last weekend at a treasured local spiritual resource — The Priory retreat house.
Located off Pinenotch Rd. near Loon Lake and accessed by state Rte. 8, The Priory is celebrating its 25th year as a spiritual retreat center.
The Priory, at first a Benedictine monastery, was dedicated by Roman Catholic officials in 1974.
In June 1987, The Priory started a new path as Sister Connie Messitt became the director, leading the transformation of The Priory into a year-round retreat center for people of all faiths. After working alone at the retreat for about two years, she was joined in 1989 by Sister Francis Gilchrist.
Under their leadership and assisted by many community volunteers, they launched an ever-wider variety of weekend workshops, overnight retreats, and classes focusing on such topics as spirituality, religious history, parenting, overcoming fears, grieving and navigating life transitions, as well as conducting book clubs and film series.
People hailing from the Capital Region as well as elsewhere in the state and all over the Northeast flocked to the 100-acre retreat, with its chapel and sprawling rustic buildings — seeking spiritual direction as well as to refresh and renew their souls.
Sister Fran retired in 2009, after nearly two decades of full-time service and several years of part-time work. Sister Connie Messitt continues to head up The Priory to this day, with a changing cast of co-directors serving various stints in recent years.
Last weekend’s Garage Sale at The Priory is the facility’s major fundraiser, which enables the retreat to continue operating
The sale featuresd hundreds of items including furniture, household goods, clothes linens, crafts, Christmas decorations, sporting goods, electronics, religious goods, artwork, toys. shoes. books, CDs, DVDs.
Friday, Sister Connie Messitt spoke of her 25-year tenure at The Priory.
“I enjoy helping people orient their lives, gaining spiritual direction,” she said.”My ministry enlivens me, and makes me be in touch with my own spirituality.”
She said that she intends to continue her role as long as she’s able to.
“I hope The Priory continues to be a sacred space for people, particularly those in transition,” she added.