Our Lady of the Prairie Retreat names Thompson as new director

Marie Thompson is the new director of Our Lady of the Prairie Retreat in Wheatland. OLPR is a ministry of the Congregation of the Humility of Mary in Davenport.

For The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — Marie Thompson, who began her career in spiritual direction and retreat ministry nearly 40 years ago, is the new director of Our Lady of the Prairie Retreat (OLPR), a ministry of the Congregation of the Humility of Mary (CHM).

Thompson, a native of Omaha, Nebraska, has master’s degrees in Chris­tian Spirituality (Creighton University) and Coun­sel­ing (University of Queens­land) and is a graduate of the Institute for Spiritual Leadership in Chicago.

She began her career in spiritual direction and retreat ministry in 1984. She has been involved in some aspect of formation ministry since that time and for the past 32 years has lived in Brisbane, Australia.


Thompson served as the first lay retreat director of the Presentation Spirituality Center, a ministry of the Presentation Sisters in Brisbane. Most recently, she has been in full-time ministry in professional supervision and spiritual direction for both religious and lay persons. For the past five summers, she returned to the United States to teach courses in the Christian Spirituality Master’s Program at Creighton University. Prior to this, Thompson served as director of the ecumenical formation program for spiritual directors at St. Francis College in Brisbane. She also served as president of the Australian Ecumenical Council for Spiritual Directors.

Thompson, who officially began work at OLPR on Jan. 16, decided to return to the United States to be closer to family. She said she was drawn initially to CHM’s charism and the vision statement of the Prairie including the focus on ecological sustainability, interdependence and right relationships with earth and those in need. Since arriving, she has been impressed with her new work environment. “It is a beautiful place with a quiet, welcoming spirit. Working in a supportive team environment like this is very nourishing.”

CHM President Sister Johanna Rickl said she is happy to welcome Thompson to the OLPR team, which includes property and operations manager Todd Seifert and program coordinator Lori Freudenberg. “Marie brings a vast background as a retreat director, formator and spiritual director. I believe our retreatants will benefit from her experience,” Sister Rickl said.
Thompson’s husband, Brian, a native of Brisbane, joins his wife in residence at OLPR. “We will miss Australia, but we both agree it is time to make this move and be closer to our USA family,” Marie Thompson said.

OLPR, located near Wheatland on a 100-acre native prairie grass woodland near the Wapsipinicon River, offers in-person and online retreats year-round on spirituality, conservation, wellness, creativity and self-awareness among other topics. Businesses and organizations may use the facilities for strategic planning, team building and workshops. Knitters, quilters, artists and writers also use OLPR facilities. Individuals are welcome to spend a day or several days with overnight lodging available for a reasonable cost. In the future, OLPR plans to offer days of reflection, formation opportunities and directed retreats for parishes. For more information, visit www.theprairieretreat.org or call (563) 374-1092.

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