Unique Features of the Marianist Retreat Center

UNIQUE FEATURES OF MRCC

“People ask if what I do is religious. Everything I create is religious – because of the inspiration behind it, the motivation for doing it and the impact it has on the people looking at it. My faith and art are inseparable.”   Bro. Mel Meyer, SM

Brother Mel created an estimated 10,000 pieces of art in his career.  His work includes metal sculptures, watercolors, stained glass, frescoes and acrylic on canvas paintings. He also worked in handmade paper and textiles. We are so blessed to be able to display over 100 pieces of Bro. Mel’s art work at MRCC.  Here are a few places you will find his art at our location:

  • Chapel:  Designed and actually constructed by Brother Mel Meyer, SM, the interior of our beautiful chapel is truly inspirational as well as practical. Although he designed other chapels, each one is different so ours is truly unique.
  • Sculpture Garden:  Dedicated to the memory of Brother Mel Meyer, SM, the garden is a lovely, peaceful place for prayer and meditation. It contains 13 sculptures designed by Brother Mel, blended with a variety of flowering plants. In the early spring many varieties of iris bloom in a rainbow of color.
  • In the building:  Throughout the retreat center building, you will find a treasure trove of Brother Mel’s original works – from large impressive sculptures to water colors, to works with fabrics, clay and metal. One of the largest collections of Brother Mel’s works anywhere can be found here at MRCC.

For more of Brother Mel’s artwork, click here.

“Early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up and slipped out to a solitary place to pray.” Mark 1:35

Spend time praying in a traditional or contemporary outside setting:

  • Stations of the Cross:  Consisting of 14 separate statues, this feature makes a reflection on Jesus’ passion as an imaginative walking exercise.  A guide for prayer and meditation is available at the site or in the Lobby.  Read brochure. 
  • Rosary Walk:  The purpose of the Rosary is to help keep in memory certain principal events or mysteries in the history of our salvation and to thank and praise God for them.  A brochure is provided at the site for prayer guidance.  Stone pavers represent the beads in the Rosary and benches are provided for prayer and meditation.  Read brochure.
  • Beatitudes Walk:  The eight Beatitudes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount are depicted in individual rustic plaques placed on poles about 5 paces between.  A brochure is provided which includes insights on the Beatitudes for modern day Christians.  Read brochure.
  • Labyrinth:  “The Ancient Path of Wisdom & Peace”.  The prayer labyrinth is a tool used to help focus the mind, spiritually speaking.  It serves as a walking metaphor for our own life experiences.  Read brochure.

“Be still, and know that I am God.”  Psalm 46:10

Places to “be still here” include:

  • Holy Family ShrineThis is a lovely venue for outdoor religious services.  It includes a raised stage platform and has rustic seating for about 25.
  • Brother Mel Sculpture GardenDedicated to the memory of Brother Mel Meyer, SM, the garden is a lovely, peaceful place for prayer and meditation.  It contains 13 sculptures designed by Brother Mel, blended with a variety of flowering plants.  In the early spring many varieties of iris bloom in a rainbow of color.
  • GrottoThought to have once been a quarry to produce the stone for the Marycliff house and for the rock walls throughout the property, the site provides a perfect setting for the grotto.  A large flat bedrock base, faced on one side by a stone bluff and surrounded by trees forming a canopy overhead makes it appear as if God placed it there for its intended purpose – for prayer and meditation.  The Grotto includes rustic seating, a fire ring, a cross, and a statue of the Blessed Mother.  What a perfect place for evening worship for a group, or for quiet, peaceful individual prayer!
  • Serenity Point at Hamilton Brook:  Serenity Point is a secluded spot on the banks of picturesque Hamilton Creek.  Featuring two sturdy park benches, it is a perfect spot for quiet meditation.
  • Nature Paths:  Some 3 miles of nature trails wind throughout the Retreat Center’s 120 acres of woods and fields.
  • Evergreen ForestJust below the sports field is a pine grove, bordering a lovely open area, which one day may be the site of family cottages.

“Let all who thirst, let them come to the water.” John Foley, S.J.

  • FountainsThe traffic circle at the entrance to the retreat center features a beautiful fountain and pool with flowering plants and shrubs and goldfish.  A statue of the Blessed Mother oversees this lovely water feature.
  • Pools:  Next to Marycliff there is a small pool with a water spray.
  • Meramec River:  The entire southern boundary of the property is bordered by the historic and beautiful Meramec River, an inspirational site for relaxing the body and mind.
  • Hamilton Creek:  Meandering through the property and emptying into the Meramec River is the tranquil clear cool water of Hamilton Creek.  A great place for a “creek hike”, finding crawdads, arrowheads and turtles.

“God made the beasts of the earth after their kind … and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:25

  • Birds:  The property is a bounty for bird watchers.  Many varieties of our winged friends can be spotted:  bluebirds, cardinals, buntings, downy, red bellied, and pileated woodpeckers just to name a few.  Can you find the hummingbird in the picture to the left?  Pictures of birds found at MRCC.
  • Butterflies:  It is early August as I look out my front window and see several varieties of butterflies feasting on the various flowering shrubs surrounding the pond and waterfall. They are indeed a delight.
  • Frogs:  If you are lucky, when the sun goes down, our pond frogs start tuning up for their nightly performance that includes some of the wildest and melodic sounds that you will ever hear in St. Louis!
  • Deer and Coyote:  Although they can be a challenge – as they are foraging animals who enjoy eating our landscaping plants – our plentiful herd of white-tail deer are some of God’s most graceful creatures. There are also coyote on the property but, as they are nocturnal, they are rarely seen.  Their mournful howls, however, can often be heard at night.  We are also blessed with lots of raccoons and possums, and, need I say, we do see a few snakes (mostly harmless).

“The angel of the LORD appeared to Moses in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed.” Exodus 3:2

“Sky above me, earth below me and fire within me.” “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” St. Catherine of Siene

  • Grotto Fire Pit:  This is a quiet, prayerful, outdoor space with rustic seating built on a large slab of rock next to an impressive cliff that includes a fire pit for evening campfires, statue of the Blessed Mother, and a rustic cross.
  • Campfire Pit:  Just behind the Retreat Center is a masonry fire pit for evening campfire programs.  There is bench seating for up to 50 people.  A great area for group singing and evening worship – or just enjoying roasting hotdogs or the ever popular s’mores.
  • Fireplace:  This location in the conference room adds both warmth and a homey ambiance.

“Wandering in nature may be the most essential soul craft practice that any of us can have in a society like ours.”  Bill Plotkin

  • 3 miles of trails:  Throughout the 100+ acres of property there are roughly 3 miles of scenic trails. Using the map we provide, one can enjoy our trail system without getting too lost as eventually the trail will lead you back to the main area.
  • Al Foster Trail:  Developed as a joint project of the City of Wildwood and the Trailnet organization, the Al Foster trail is an 8 foot wide professionally constructed public trail that begins at the southern edge of the MRCC property and extends in a northerly direction, following the winding Meramec River, 2 ½ miles to Sherman Beach. It provides an excellent opportunity for individual or group strolls to soak up the wonders of nature.
  • A walking meditationThis is a simple way to walk and pray at the say time by focusing on one’s breath.  Read more.