New Ipswich: A house of hope 

  • Our Lady of Hope House of Prayer offers a quiet place to escape the huridness of modern life. (Abby Kessler/ The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript). Staff photo by Abby Kessler— Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Sister Rita Pay stands in one of the guest rooms at Our Lady of Hope House of Prayer in New Ipswich, which offers a quiet place for its guests to escape the huridness of modern life. (Abby Kessler/ The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript). Staff photo by Abby Kessler— Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Sister Rita Pilotte heats up a stew on Tuesday afternoon in preparation for dinner at Our Lady of Hope House of Prayer in New Ipswich, which offers a quiet place for its guests to escape the huridness of modern life. (Abby Kessler/ The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript). Staff photo by Abby Kessler— Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • The five sisters who live at Our Lady of Hope House of Prayer in New Ipswich stand in a common room. The house offers a quiet place to escape the hurriedness of modern life. Staff photo by Abby Kessler

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/9/2017 7:03:03 AM

Tucked into the quiet of New Ipswich, five sisters run a retreat aimed at people who are seeking quiet reflection and developing a closer relationship to their faith.

Our Lady of Hope House of Prayer has been nestled into a small area on Temple Road for more than two decades, but even some locals don’t know much about the retreat.

Tom Hawkins, who lives in Temple, said he learned of the retreat while canvassing on behalf of Democratic candidates in District 25 during the last campaign cycle. Prior to that, he didn’t know it existed.

“These woods are alive with spiritual endeavors,” he said after discovering the spot.

The Sisters of the Presentation and Mary, who live at the retreat year around, said many of their guests come from New England and from various areas across the country in search of a quiet space away from the huridness of their own lives.

“They are seeking quiet and time for reflection,” said Sister Rita Pay. “Just time to get away from business and the family.”

And if they come once, often times, they’ll come back.

“People say, ‘oh this is my second home,’” said Sister Pay.

The retreat offers austere accommodations; a prayer room, group spaces, a dining room, and small bedrooms a little wider than an arm span that sleep one.

From a common room on the first floor, the sisters agreed that the house is not considered a bed-and-breakfast, but a place to unwind, reflect, meditate and study.

At full capacity the house can hold 16 guests. During the spring, summer and fall the house fills with people who come individually or in groups. Throughout the year, presenters affiliated with different religions hold seminars geared towards deepening ones faith.

Winter is the slowest month at the house. A blanket of snow covers a rock labyrinth outside and bitter temperatures keep people from sitting in a screened-in porch. It still hosts mass in its prayer room every Wednesday and Saturday, which are both open to the public, but on Tuesday no guests were checked in.

When there is no one staying at the house, the sisters spend their days quietly in the house. On Tuesday afternoon Sister Rita Pilotte heated up a stew for dinner and Sister Lorraine Trottier worked in a corner office, completing translation work.

It’s a simple existence, but one the sisters said is meaningful. They said when people are staying at the house, their faith is deepened by the people who come to deepen their own.

Abby Kessler can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 234 or akessler@ledgertranscript.com.


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