Star Struck Gala 2018

“A Sentimental Journey”

Celebrating 70 Years of Wonder

How very grateful we are here at St. Francis Center for Renewal as we enter the year 2018.  We remember and we celebrate 70 years of dedicated service to God’s people in providing an ‘oasis of peace and healing’ where all can come to pray and be with God.

Our retreat apostolate officially began in March,1948 with Sister Gerard Lampl as the first Director.  Within a very short time, days of reflection and weekend retreats were being held in the ‘White House’.  Sister Gerard saw the need for help in promoting this new retreat center. Within a year she organized a group of women from various parishes whom she simply named “Promoters”. Soon, yearly retreats were being held for women in parishes from Eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

As the use of the retreat house at Monocacy Manor grew in popularity each year, expansion became necessary.  In 1955, the cornerstone was laid for a new four-level retreat house. Because of prolonged strikes at Bethlehem Steel, it was not completed until 1956.  What a blessing was this new building!

In 1957 Monocacy Manor became home to St. Francis Retreat and St. Francis Academy for girls. The Sisters taught in the academy all week, and then ministered in the retreat center on the weekends:  welcoming, cleaning, doing dishes. The Sisters’ bedrooms were on the second floor of the retreat center.  Every weekend that a retreat was held, the sisters packed up their belongings and moved to the White House so that retreatants could use their rooms! A strenuous ‘weekend commute’ but well worth it.

In the years that followed, retreats continued to grow both in size and format. The Center soon had Marriage and Engaged Encounter groups, Diocesan school and Teacher’s Retreats, Sisters’ Retreats, Religious Education Groups. The number and kinds of retreats expanded and emphasis was placed on reaching out to men, women and people of every race and culture. 

Access to modern technology became essential to our guests.  With donations from the estate of the late Andrew Slafkosky, a multi-media room was created.  Current technology was installed in the conference rooms. With many more men attending retreats, a men’s bathroom was installed on the first floor. In addition, with a bequest from the estate of Joan Kraft, new seats were purchased for the chapel, as well as other conference rooms on the main floor of the retreat center.

God has truly been with us, with His blessing and guidance.  As we move into the new century, more and more people seek the quiet and welcoming atmosphere of the Center.  Open year round, we host a diverse array of groups and provide a rich assortment of retreat experiences, including private and directed personal retreats.  Our ‘hermitage’ apartment provides individuals private space where they can be alone with God.

As we celebrate this 70th Anniversary milestone, we have chosen to honor Msgr. John Murphy. Beginning in the early 1980’s, Monsignor Murphy became a companion on our journey as he joined in our ministry of providing an ‘oasis of peace and healing to all God’s people.’ It is then that he began to offer retreats for St. Thomas More parishioners at our Center. Spearheading the ministry of parish retreats in the Diocese, each year Father Murphy has brought to our Center a full house of men and women for a faith filled weekend of prayer and sharing. In the beginning, the parish retreats were sometimes held twice a year. Every bed was filled, and sometimes, even a few sleeping bags could be found in the parlor. Over the years, the parish has become a special part of our family.  2019 will mark a milestone for the parish as it celebrates its 50th retreat! Currently, there are many pastors who have followed his lead, and we now host several parishes on an annual basis.

We thank Monsignor Murphy for his vision, foresight and wisdom. In his care for his own parishioners, he has led the Diocese of Allentown in a remarkable ministry that affirms, encourages and inspires the faith of his ‘flock.’ And he has been a faithful and caring support on the Sentimental Journey that is St. Francis Center for Renewal.

On May 5, 2018, 250+ guests, including Bishop Alfred Schlert, joined in the celebration at the 8th Annual Star Struck Gala, as St. Francis Center honored Msgr. Murphy and the 2018 Woman of Strength Award recipients: Alice Bova; Sr. Frances Marie Duncan, OSF; Debbie Karabin Stevenson and Sandra Yodzio.

For further information and to view pictures of the event find us on Facebook!

Gala Donors

Platinum Sponsors:

Denise & John Jones

Sapphire Sponsors:

Albarell Electric


Blue Diamond Sponsors:

Diocese of Allentown
Friends of Monocacy Manor
Joe & Shirley Knecht Hixson
Mrs. Anna Kleinschuster
Betty Kline & Friends
Father David Kozak
School Sisters of St. Francis


Abundant Graces
American Museum of Natural History
Bare Beauty Products
The Bayou
Beef Jerky Outlet
Bethlehem Golf Club
Shirley & Mike Briody
Frances Brown
Clover Hill Winery
Clubhouse Grill
Alexandria Cirko
Clover Hill Vineyards
Mr. & Mrs. DeGasperis
Dolce Mamma Bar & Grill
Donegal Square
S. Frances Marie Duncan, OSF
Jim Eckert
Greg & Nancy Falkenbach
Fire House Subs
Fox Optical
Ellie Franges
Janice Gough & Jerry Herauf
Grazie Italian Grill
Armando & Jacqueline Greco
Anne Houston
Nancy Hutt
Gloria Garganta
Mary Gonzales
Green Pond Country Club
Healing Hands
Historic Hotel Bethlehem
IronPigs Charities
Josh Early Candies
Keystone Pub & Grill
S. Bonnie Kleinschuster, OSF
James Knerr
S. Anita Kuchera, OSF
Lehigh Valley Jewelry Exchange
Deborah & Mark Lieberman
S. M. Virginelle Makos
Msgr.John Martin
Helen McComb
Pat Hampsey McDermott
S. Loretta Motko, OSF
Mediterranean Catering
Joan Miller
Miller’s Ale House
Patricia and Bill
Laura & Mike Minogue
Monocacy Farm Project
My Boy’s Baking
Kathy Navarre
Deb Neely
1001 Thai
Old Farmer’s Almanac
Olive Garden
On the Border Mexican Grill
Outback Steakhouse
PA Shakespeare Festival
Joanne Pekarik
Natalie Pionegro
Pizza Village
Plow & Hearth
Pocono Oil & Spice
Premise Maid Candies
Prime Steakhouse
Mary Principato
Red Lobster
Red Stag Pub & Grill
Sharon Rehrig
Virginia Rooney
Frances Roseman
Arlene Sampino
Vicki Sefranek
Settlers Inn
Sight & Sound Theatre
Simply Smooth
Debbie & Jack Stevenson
S. Marguerite Stewart, OSF
St. Francis Center for Renewal
St. Joseph the Worker Parish
Helen Svanda
Tanczos Beverages
Tavern at the Sun Inn
The Sayre Mansion
The Yard Farmer
Trexlertown Beauty Salon
Rev. Gary & Linda Walbert
Weis Markets
Working Dog Press
Yankee Candle

Women of Strength 2018

Alice Bova, Frances Marie Duncan, OSF, Debbie Karabin Stevenson, and Sandi Yodzio!
For more information, please see Women of Strength 2018!

Peace and all Good! We Would Love to Have You Visit Soon!


M-F: 9am - 4pm