Households find peace in Columbus retreat house


Photo provided by Elisha Valladares-Cormier

A parish that stands as a beacon of peace in a neighborhood of chaos has provided a unique and peaceful location for household retreats to be held.

Holy Family Parish was established in 1877 in the historic Columbus area known as Franklinton and has been hosting Franciscan household retreats for the past three and a half years. According to the pastor, the Rev. Stash Dailey, the idea of hosting these retreats first came about after meeting students while they were serving as NET missionaries while he was located in Canton. These students kept in contact with Dailey after their time at NET as they began their time at Franciscan.

After Dailey was moved to his current location, these students visited the priest and his new parish in the fall of 2013. By this time, they had joined Knights of the Holy Queen household. One of members, senior Diego Araujo, was the first person to ask Dailey about the possibility of the Knights holding their semester retreats at Holy Family, to which Dailey said yes.

Since then, four other households have come to Holy Family or their retreats, including Regina Angelorum, Brothers of the Eternal Song, Totus Tuus, Maria and Handmaids of the Lord. Three of these households came again this semester. The Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles hold one of their annual “Come and See” discernment retreats, which is often attended by Franciscan students, at the parish as well. The households stay in either the rectory or parish center, according to Dailey.

According to Dailey, each group conducts their retreat differently. Some groups are pretty self-sufficient. “They don’t need much from me other than be let in. Other groups have asked me to give a talk or a reflection or a meditation or a series of talks,” said Dailey, adding that the groups often attend daily Mass at the parish and hold all night adoration in the rectory chapel. Some households have even completed some service projects for the parish while on retreat.

For Dailey, hosting the students is richly rewarding and always a good experience. “I learn just as much from them as they learn from the Holy Spirit’s guidance while they’re here,” he said.

As far as students are concerned, the feeling is quote mutual. Sophomore Chloe Batara, who attended that Carmelite retreat, describes Dailey as a humble man, saying, “He gives himself to the Lord, and then God gives back generously His love and graces that allows Fr. Stash to be an effective leader of his parish and those who stay at his rectory. Diego Araujo added that, “The way that he lives testifies to what it means to have a resurrected savior.

In addition to the presence of Dailey, the students have said that the rectory and the parish themselves are very conducive to spiritual meditation. Batara said the amount of statues and relics located in the rectory enhanced her retreat because, “they served as a constant reminder of my faith. Araujo said that the many images of the virgin Mary help draw him deeper in prayer.

The church is located in one of the rougher neighborhoods in Columbus, and there are several homeless people that hang out around the buildings, but Araujo said that this provides opportunities to become even stronger in the faith, such as serving at the soup kitchen. “It makes the faith more real,” he says.

When asked why households and other organizations continue to return to Holy Family for their retreats, Dailey said that it because the parish, which has struggled financially the past few years, is able to love from its poverty and be welcoming to visitors. “We are in a very violent area, but the love and the welcoming that this parish has for Franciscan households creates a very peaceful environment for people to encounter the Holy Spirit.”

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