By Celine Klosterman
Amid 12 acres of wild grasses, bushes and trees three miles east of Oskaloosa, Pray-Ri-Land (pronounced “prairie land”) aims to offer a haven for silent meditation and group retreats.
“We’re open for just about anything,” said Mark Mauer. He is president of My Father’s House, Inc., a nonprofit group that oversees the retreat center just off Iowa 92.
A path called a “rosary walk” curves through wildflowers and brush left untrimmed to offer a more authentic experience of nature. “It’s not a park setting,” Mauer said.
Small books offering spiritual reflection are on hand for visitors who follow a trail lined with Stations of the Cross. Statues of Jesus and Mary accompany outdoor benches, and an engraved stone at the grounds’ entrance promises peace and solace.
Inside Pray-Ri-Land’s two buildings are a chapel, meeting room and showers. The facilities are used mostly by members of St. Mary Parish in Oskaloosa, who Mauer said have gathered for small-group studies, youth retreats, fall hayrides and praise music. The donation-funded center is open year-round except for winter, when the facilities aren’t heated.
Pray-Ri-Land was created in 1994 thanks to Father Thomas McConville, a late priest of the Davenport Diocese who originally envisioned a complex to house retired clergy. But his plans shifted to offering a place where people of various faiths could nurture their spiritual life, Mauer said.
“We’re really proud to have Pray-Ri-Land,” he said. “We just want people to know it’s there for them.”
For more information, call Mauer at (641) 660-6332.