~from California Catholic Daily
La Providencia, an “earth spirituality” retreat center run by two Catholic nuns in the San Diego suburb of Alpine and known locally for its large outdoor labyrinth, is closing its doors after nearly 30 years. Sister Millicent Peaslee, OLVM and Sister Pat Hanson, CSJO say they plan to retire this fall. The retreat center property, owned by a doctor and his wife, will be taken over by a new mission named Samarpan.
“Through much prayer and discernment Sisters Pat and Millie have decided that it is time to close La Providencia this Fall, Sept. 30th,” says a statement on La Providencia’s web site. “After 29 years with this particular ministry they will begin a new chapter in their lives... They hope to find a small house to rent in Alpine and continue to be part of this parish [Queen of Angels in Alpine]. There will be a transition with another similar non-profit Catholic organization called ‘Samarpan’ meaning ‘unconditional service’ which will carry on the spirit of their ministry.”
The statement continues, “As we prepare for our celebration and transition, we have been going through hundreds of photographs taken over the last 28 years. There are several characteristics that are evident: the spirit of prayer, awareness of the issues of the entire world, promoting women’s issues, working with the poor and homeless, aiding in the work of ecological justice, and helping to build communities of faith and spiritual support. In the pictures we see the practical ways we have accomplished this with a variety of people. The main identifying element is the JOY that is evident hi [sic] the people as they have participated in the Ministry of La Providencia, which is the ministry of Christ.”
Many of the activities offered at La Providencia, however, were anything but the “ministry of Christ.” A sampling of “happenings” from several La Providencia newsletters from the late 1990s through 2003 includes: Reiki massage classes and certification programs; Labyrinth walks and workshops; “Women’s Herbal Intensive” retreat; Summer and winter solstice and spring and fall equinox celebrations; “Global spirituality” talks given by Sister Carol Zinn, SSJ; “Harvest Blessings” and “Greening of Spring” festivals; “Integrating the New Cosmology with Faith and Scripture” courses; Prayer remembrances during the “High Holy Days” of Yom Kippur, and Ramadan “Earth Charter Book Study.”
“La Providencia is an evolving spiritual movement that meets the needs of the time for physical well being, emotional balance and inner wholeness leading to spiritual transformation,” said the sisters’ mission statement. “The goal is to invite persons to a heightened spiritual awareness, where they may participate more responsibly in the creating of a world order for justice and peace. La Providencia’s healing environment offers opportunities for quiet reflection and processes of spirituality and integrates the needs and blessing of the individual with those of Mother Earth.”
La Providencia’s lending library offered visitors “all kinds of wonderful environmental, ecological and cosmic creation videos, books and tapes,” according to a flier, including such titles as Cosmic Voyage by Morgan Freeman, The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos by Brian Swimme, and an audio tape by Julia Butterfly Hill, who spent two years living in a tree.
In 1999, San Diego News Notes published a firsthand account of one person’s experience attending a La Providencia “spring equinox celebration.” To read the story, Click Here.