Kearns Spirituality Center History

Kearns Spirituality Center was first constructed as a student dormitory for La Roche College in 1965. The original building included what is now the retreat center, with approximately 30 bedrooms, a kitchen and dining area accommodating 50, and a lounge containing a small living room chapel.

The building was named for Mary Kenneth Kearns, CDP, who was instrumental in founding La Roche College and who served as Provincial Director for the Sisters of Divine Providence in Pittsburgh and as General Consulter for the Sisters of Divine Providence when the Generalate was in Rome.

As the College expanded and constructed its own dorms, the facility was returned to the Sisters. In January, 1983, after appropriate renovation, it re-opened as a spirituality center. Since that time it has provided a space for spiritual nourishment, retreats and programs. Kearns is also a gathering place for many social service organizations and peace and justice groups.

In 1991, the conference center and offices were constructed. The conference center includes a reception area, offices, storage space, and a conference center which services 250 people. The grounds surrounding Kearns were also enhanced, providing a meditation garden, sisters’ memorial walkway and outdoor seating arrangements appropriate for programs and retreats.

In the fall of 1994, the kitchen was renovated and improved, and the facility was made handicap accessible.

In 1996, the Center began offering spiritual direction beyond the annual retreats. Directors were either members of the Community or sisters from other communities in the area, all of whom were certified as spiritual directors.

In May of 1997, the Center was fully air-conditioned, including the bedroom areas. 1997-98 also marked the fifteenth anniversary of the Center.

Visitation Chapel was constructed in 2001, with a seating capacity of approximately 200 people. Shortly after, a gazebo was added to the outdoor area and the grass labyrinth was inlaid with brick. All three of these improvements have provided wonderful reflective space for the patrons and clients of the Center.

In 2002, Divine Providence Retreat Ministries was formed, inclusive of Providence Villa, Kearns Spirituality Center, and Transfiguration House of Prayer, which closed in August 2010. An advisory council for Divine Providence Retreat Ministries was also created in 2002.