By KATIE BORKOWSKI
WILLEY – The Domus Trinitatis grounds have now expanded to include a priest residence.
“I can’t quite believe we have two buildings up in two years,” said Sister Marie Hesed Champagne, SOLT. “We have come such a long way. It is an incredible accomplishment.”
Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) building and trades students completed the building of the residence under the direction of Mike Stout, their teacher and parishioner at Annunciation Church in Coon Rapids.
An open house was held on May 2 to show the result of the students’ hard work to their families.
“What struck me a lot was the parents were saying their sons were very excited about this project,” said Sister Hesed. “I was very pleased to see the young men come in and show their parents around.”
The priest residence is the second completed building at the Domus Trinitatis Retreat Center south of Carroll. The design was worked on by Chuck Thatcher.
The residence has bedrooms for three priests or brothers. It also includes a two-car garage, a chapel and sacristy, two offices for private counseling, a large kitchen/dining room area, living room and two large conference rooms for retreats and gatherings.
“We received a big donation for this,” said Sister Hesed. “Then we fundraised and Go Fund Me to finish it more or less. We still have a few more thousand to put into it. When it is all said and done, it will be about $310,000 with no labor (cost).”
The project started on Oct. 15, 2015, and two classes of DMACC students helped complete the project. There were about six students who started the work.
“They learned how to do all the framing,” said Sister Hesed. “This year there were about 28 students and they did everything else. Mike Stout worked through snow, cold, freeze, mud, rain, you name it. The hardships these young men have gone through to bring this to reality, you can’t put into words.”
The sisters had some furniture in storage for the priest residence, but Sister Hesed noted there is still a need for more – bedroom sets, couches, and other items.
“We have been in contact with our major superiors regarding the residence being available,” said Sister Hesed. “We have submitted, requested and presented the need for priests, not only for the parishes around us at this time, but also for our work. We do a lot of retreats, spiritual direction and spiritual mentorship. We serve the women, but we see the men also need to be ministered to. This would open a whole new field for us.”
The next step in expanding Domus Trinitatis will be the first hermitage. A grant from the Carroll Foundation was awarded to start the process.
Sister Hesed commented the DMACC students have drawn the perimeter, prepared the area and have dug the area where the hermitage will be located.
“It will be built by our core group of men and CRHP (Christ Renews His Parish) men,” she said. “We just need to raise the funds for the materials. Once that is up, I think the people will see how it all comes together. We have had an interest in the hermitages – what it is and a want to come.”
The hermitage will be dedicated to and called the Hidden Heart of St. Joseph, Sister Hesed noted.
“When our founder gave me permission to start looking into establishing Domus Trinitatis, I dedicated this work to St. Joseph,” she said. “I made the promise that the first hermitage would be dedicated to him. It will be a fulfillment of the promise that I made.”
Another new addition is the gates, one on each side of the drive, leading onto the grounds. The gates are black with a gold cross and three gold circles representing the Trinity.
The SOLT sisters also plan to continue to host retreats and other events at the convent. Sister Hesed led a short retreat on May 13 focused on the Holy Spirit.
For more information about Domus Trinitatis, visit the website at homeofthetrinity.com.