Work has begun on the St. Francis Retreat Center and the Father Francis Kline Memorial Chapel which will be located on the site of the former St. Anthony Guest House. A blessing of the construction site will be held on June 3, 2012 at 3 p.m. and the building should be completed by the end of this year.
The new Retreat Center, which will replace all of the existing guest houses, will have sixteen private rooms with private baths (two being handicapped accessible with an adjoining room in each case for a care giver), a library, offices for the Guestmaster and Spiritual Director, and a room for counseling/confessions. The Father Francis Kline Memorial Chapel will be a free-standing meditation chapel dedicated in memory of our beloved Abbot Francis Kline who died August 27, 2006.
W.G. Clark and his partner Josh Stanstny of the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, are our architects and Hightower Construction Company, Inc. is our general contractor.
Dr. John Palms (former President of the University of South Carolina) and his wife Norma head the fund-raising efforts and participated in building committee meetings. Almost all of the funds to build this project have been raised. A significant portion of this amount came in as memorials for Father Francis Kline at the time of his death.
The building committee for this project has been meeting regularly over the past three plus years to design the new Retreat. Serving on the committee are Brother John and Brother Paul (Brother Stephen served for the first two years until health problems caused his resignation); Dottie Roddy, a friend of Mepkin’s and a Knoxville, TN. native who has spent her life in development and property management; and Bob Macdonald of Mount Pleasant, another friend of Mepkin’s who has served as the director of top museums in New York, New Orleans and other cities. Ted Fiddie, a Mepkin employee, who has had extensive experience as a contractor, is our Owner’s Representative and attends the meetings. Abbot Stanislaus is a frequent visitor at the meetings, and officers of the Palmetto Craftsmen company of Charleston, who have assisted our architect in costing the project, also have participated.