By DEIRDRE C. MAYS
“Just as the fish is in the sea, so am I in the soul, and the soul in me, sea of peace.”
EDISTO ISLAND — In the tranquil atmosphere of the barrier islands, Sea of Peace House of Prayer sits in the shade of sprawling live oak trees looking out over a tidal creek.
The retreat center has moved from its former site on Edisto to 59 Palmetto Pointe Road, an idyllic setting in the island’s neck area that helps the center live up to its name.
“This location is more conducive to quiet and reflection,” said Dominican Sister Betty Condon.Sisters Betty Condon and Barbara Hubbard
She and Sister Barbara Hubbard, Adrian Dominican Sisters, moved from Jungle Road to the new location Jan. 29. The lease was up on their former house and with the help of their governing board and some intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the sisters found a paradise of sorts.
The house is somewhat smaller than what they are used to but the one-and-a-half acre grounds with visits from wild turkey and deer more than make up space. They have two rooms for retreatants and a sun room for meditation and a variety of other activities such as art, prayer, watching inspirational videos, listening to audiotapes, reading, or just resting in the bright room with the spectacular marsh view.
Retreatants can choose to come and follow their own call, or be guided by one of the sisters. Both have been leading group and solo retreats on the island for the last four years. They are also regular retreat leaders in churches and at The Oratory. They followed their calling to guide people in their spirituality after leaving teaching careers to care for their ailing mothers.
“We both like what we are doing, it’s a love relationship,” Sister Betty said.
She is a 25-year veteran of teaching while Sister Barbara taught for 28. They believe their paths were guided to each other in the Holy Spirit. Both have teaching backgrounds, both were caring for dying mothers, both had done missionary work in Africa, yet both lived in separate parts of the country. Sister Betty, a Lowcountry native, was looking for retreat work in a religious community setting and called her former mother superior. The superior knew Barbara, who was living in Michigan at the time and suggested the idea to her. The order has self placement and the match was an answer to their prayers. The Sea of Peace House of Prayer
“It’s a miracle that out of 1100 Adrian Dominicans two people got together who had both had the same exact background,” Sister Barbara said.
The new house was purchased with grants. The Adrian Dominican community, located in Adrian, Mich., pays for the two sisters’ living expenses. Retreat fees do not pay for the upkeep of the center, and they rely on donations and grants. Several parishes have given tithes.
“We don’t like dealing with the financial angle, but we just do it to keep the ministry going,” Sister Betty explained.
Couples, individuals and religious go to Sea of Peace but it seems to be a place that draws women, in particular.
“Generally, people come because they are already on a journey to deepen their faith,” Sister Betty said.
Sister Barbara said she was called to lead retreats.
“I listen to the movement of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life,” she said of what she does. “It is called companioning. I adapt the retreat to the needs of the person using Scripture.”
Both do a lot preparing for those days of prayer and they spend a lot of time reading and doing research. Some of the retreat topics they offer include: praying with Scripture; centering prayer; women mystics; creation spirituality; and connecting faith with action.
Deepening a person’s faith is just one of many reasons to go to Sea of Peace. After all, says Sister Barbara: “Spirituality is the deepest part of who we are.”
For more information on Sea of Peace House of Prayer Retreat Center call (843) 869-0513.