It began with an invitation to climb a mountain…
Summer 1974 Rev. Paul Roman, diocesan coordinator of religious education in the “North Country,” received an invitation from Bill Aiken of Chestertown, NY to “climb a mountain.” At the top, he saw one hundred acres of virgin Adirondack forest. Rev. Roman hung a medal of St. Benedict on a beam of the sagging barn and returned to Brant Lake to tell his friends, diocesan priests Rev. John Kerwin and Rev. Michael Neaton, of his discovery.
These two priests had recently been granted permission to establish a monastic community where they could lead a life of contemplation, hospitality, work and service. This mountaintop made an ideal permanent site.
July 1979 Following construction of the house, Bishop Howard Hubbard dedicated the building, grounds and community. Meanwhile, the focus of The Priory shifted from a contemplative, monastic community to a spiritual retreat center. As the lay community grew in numbers, The Priory’s reputation also grew.
October 1984 The Priory’s chapel was completed and dedicated by Bishop Hubbard.
1985 The last member of the original religious community left to follow a new vocation. Members of the lay community began to discern anew The Priory’s purpose.
April 1987 Dedicated to helping people cultivate their spirituality, Sr. Connie Messitt, CSJ became Retreat Director of The Priory. She proposed to the Board of Directors converting the house into a year round center for people of all faiths. Under her guidance, the Priory continued its ministry as a spiritual center.
July 1988 The Priory held its first Garage Sale fundraiser. This became The Priory’s major annual fundraiser and continues to the present day.
June 1989 Sr. Francis Gilchrist, CSJ joined the Priory community as co-director. By then the Priory had grown as an ecumenical retreat center, house of prayer, and North Country conference center.
2005 At age 74, Sr. Fran retired from full time work, and stayed on at the Priory until May 2009 to lead occasional workshops and serve as the Priory’s resident gardener. The garden’s produce was used to prepare simple, healthful communal meals for the Sisters and The Priory’s guests.
Pat Mousaw, a Queensbury resident and layperson, a Spiritual Director with a masters degree in theology, replaced Sister Fran as co-director. Mousaw remained in that position until the end of 2007.
September 2008 Sr. Karen Lee, CSJ, served as associate director until February 2009, when she returned to her home province in Brentwood, New York.
April 2012 The Priory celebrated the silver anniversary of Sr. Connie’s arrival at The Priory.
Today The Priory continues active ministry in changing times. It offers overnight retreats, weekend workshops, full and half day workshops and programs. It also hosts groups who want a place to hold their own retreats and meetings. With the support of its volunteer Board of Directors, The Priory seeks to offer new and creative ways to meet the needs of its local and extended communities.
Friends of the Priory provide essential financial support to keep the ministry of the Priory going.