St. Emma Monastery
Offers Retreat Center and Gift Shop
by Karen Fetter
Not far from the busy life of downtown Greensburg lies a quiet and peaceful monastery for a group of Benedictine Nuns. These 13 women have created a serene environment that welcomes visitors of every faith for retreats, private stays, or for purchasing items from their extensive gift shop. Take a moment to visit one of Westmoreland County’s quiet secrets, St. Emma’s Monastery. St. Emma’s is located just off of Route 819 in Greensburg.
Led by Prioress Mother Mary Anne, the mission of the monastery is to be a touchstone for all who wish to come to a place hallowed by prayer, both the prayer of the permanent community of nuns and all those blessed to spend time here. Another part of the monastery’s mission is to provide hospitality for those seeking to deepen their relationship with God. At St. Emma’s there are many opportunities for each Sister to utilize the various tools of the monastery to touch the lives of those who visit. These tools include the garden, the gift and book shop, kitchen, and dining room.
‘We are blessed to have a wonderful group of volunteers who generously assist us in our various labors,’ said Mother Mary Anne. ‘Our small community is family-like. Here the young and the old, people of varying personalities, abilities and skills, live, pray and work together. Stability marks our life for we enter and live out our monastic life here.’
St. Emma’s offers an extensive gift shop. When you are looking for a special gift for a religious occasion such as a baptism, Holy Communion, Confirmation, or wedding, St. Emma’s has everything you need. With years of experience purchasing high quality supplies there is so much variety.
St. Emma’s also offers a retreat house featuring single rooms that can accommodate up to 25 people. Retreats consist of daily Mass, conferences given to the retreatants as a group, the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and time for personal prayer/reflection and Eucharistic adoration.
There are several retreats scheduled for this upcoming season. In July there are two retreats: Encounter with Silence lead by Rev. Frank Erdeljac and a Five Day Silent Retreat with the theme Vanity of Vanities led by Rev. Mark Gruber, OSB.
The last weekend in August is a special retreat designed for busy moms of small children. The retreat is lead by Rev. Angelus Shaughnessy, OFMCap. Mothers of young children do not have the time to be away for an entire weekend so this retreat is set up for part of the weekend. It begins Friday afternoon and ends Saturday late afternoon. The itinerary for Friday evening includes Reconciliation, dinner, and then the Eucharist. The itinerary for Saturday begins with a pick-up breakfast, a conference, Holy Hour, lunch, sharing time, and quiet time. Attendees can invite their families to join them for the celebration of the Eucharist and then stay for pizza, pop, and ice cream. The cost is $75.00 per person and includes two dinners, breakfast, and lunch.
St. Emma’s also offers a private guest house with nine private rooms. It is the perfect setting for personal, group, monastic vocation, and directed retreats. People use this private guest house for personal time to think, to pray, and to just be. It is an opportunity to get out of the fast lane and let God re-charge your batteries. You can spend special time with God basically in silence and prayer. The idea is that with everyday distractions removed, one is able to enter into the depths of the heart and find God at the center.
During the stay, individuals are welcome to join the Benedictine monastic community for any or all of The Liturgy of the Hours (in English), which is sung six times a day using simplified Gregorian chant melodies, and for daily Mass.
Whatever your need, the gift shop at St. Emmas has something for you. The gift shop offers medals, rosaries, pictures, statues, music CDs, DVDs, mementos, prayer cards, and greeting cards. Furthermore, there are event specific sections for baptism and baby, Communion and Confirmation, and wedding.
St. Emma’s gift shop offers handmade products from various makers such as preserves from Trappist Monks and handmade soaps from Clyde, Missouri. Hours of operation for the gift shop are Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. If you are unable to come into the gift shop you can call or fax in your order.
In addition to the gift shop, there is an extensive book shop that has selections for spiritual life, family, church, children, Mary, prayer, and Saints. Sister Maria Glaubitz runs the bookshop with an eye to the special needs of the people. Books from the Liturgy of the Hours, the Magnificent, and other Christian prayer books are available. In addition, there are Benedictine items such as books on St. Scholastica, St. Emma, and St. Walburga, as well as material on Benedictine spirituality.
On the lighter side, there is a recipe book called A Heavenly Taste that is available. It provides a compilation of recipes collected by the monastery.
If you would like more information about St. Emma’s Monastery
St. Emma’s Monastery
1001 Harvey Avenue
Greensburg, PA 15601 724-834-3060