New Holstein retreat center opens
Plans call for it to serve as a spirituality center and a bed and breakfast
By Joanne Flemming
The Green Bay Diocese's southeast corner has a new retreat center, Maria Haus in St. Nazianz.
In April, Mary Pineda bought the former St. Mary's Convent from the Salvatorian Sisters and used as a nursing home for elderly sisters.
Pineda has been using the house for individual and group retreats and meetings. She anticipates that the number of these will increase this fall. A formal dedication and opening of Maria Haus will not take place until spring 2002.
Pineda said she became involved with St. Mary's Convent and its residents after she and her husband, Rudy -- diocesan consultant for Hispanic Pastoral Ministry -- moved to St. Nazianz in 1999.
Pineda, who grew up in St. Nazianz, had her own practice as a psychotherapist and family and marriage counselor in San Antonio for 20 years. She also has training and experience in pastoral ministry.
Last year, the sisters decided to move the convent's elderly residents to assisted living in Milwaukee by the end of that year. However, the move was made sooner when a tornado swept through the village that summer.
The tornado ripped off the convent roof and caused considerable water damage inside, Pineda said.
The sisters invited outside groups to submit proposals for ways they would use the building.
Pineda and friends developed one for an interfaith spirituality center that called for her to run its programs while the sisters continued to own the facility.
She said the sisters not only accepted her proposal, but they offered to sell her the building as is. They fixed the roof, but she would have to take care of interior damage. The sale was completed in spring.
Pineda has decided to run Maria Haus for profit. She envisions it serving not only as a spirituality center, but as a conference center for small businesses and groups and as a bed and breakfast.
The reason it will not be dedicated until 2002 is that Pineda does not expect to get the necessary licenses for the bed and breakfast until then.
The three-story center includes a large gathering room, several small-group meeting rooms, a chapel, a dining room, fully-equipped kitchen, and 22 bedrooms.
The grounds include a pond, apple and pear orchards and a vineyard.
Two sisters who helped run the nursing home will have an apartment in the center.
Pineda said Maria Haus has been part of St. Nazianz since the 1800s. It has served as a farm convent, an orphanage and a hospital.
She wants to integrate the past and future. She said it is named for the Blessed Mother. The word "Haus" reflects the village's German heritage.
Pineda also hopes to use the center for music festivals, gatherings for artists and writers, weddings and a summer farmers' market.