Approximately 25 local community members gathered at La Casa de Maria on Sunday, May 4 for a special ceremony dedicating the retreat center’s newly renovated lounge to longtime supporters Jon and Lillian Lovelace.
The Jon and Lillian Lovelace Lounge, which served as the original meeting room for La Casa de Maria dating back to 1955, is the first of six meeting rooms that are being remodeled as a result of La Casa’s capital campaign.
The renovation of the space included sound proofing, design changes for greater accessibility, doors and lighting, audio visual enhancements and cabinets, and creation of a hospitality corner where groups can prepare refreshments.
“In spite of all these changes, it still feels like our Lounge, with our sandstone fireplace, high ceilings and views of the outdoors,” said Stephanie Glatt, executive director of La Casa de Maria Retreat and Conference Center. “We do things organically at La Casa.”
Lillian unveiled the tile plaque for the newly renovated sacred space that bears her and her late husband’s names. The design on the plaque was inspired by the Spanish tiles that adorn the central patio of the manor house on the property that is the Center for Spiritual Renewal where individuals come for private retreats.
Several attendees and neighbors of La Casa and the Lovelaces shared their stories about the retreat center and what it has meant to them, thanking Jon and Lillian for their dedication and support. Christine Garvey, who served as co-chair for La Casa’s successful $7.5 million Capital Campaign, called La Casa a “spiritual anchor” in her life, and writer/producer Vicki Riskin praised Jon and Lillian for their leadership and support of countless important cultural and educational institutions, including La Casa.
Lillian, who was presented with a stunning rose bouquet before addressing the group, praised La Casa’s commitment to people of all cultures and traditions — a state of mind that she says gives her “hope for peace.”
“Santa Barbara is grateful to have an institution and a place that brings together people of all cultures and religions,” Lillian Lovelace said. “With so much strife in the world caused by perceived differences, it is important that there be places dedicated to bringing people together in a spiritual way.”
Steve Jacobsen, coordinating council member for La Casa de Maria and former executive director at Hospice of Santa Barbara, concluded the ceremony with a blessing — prefaced with a reflection on the three words he said he believes best describe the center: “place, presence and purpose.”
“We know people will come to this lounge to experience presence in the ‘now’ — to learn, to converse and sometimes simply as a place to pause by oneself with a cup of tea,” Jacobsen said. “We know that often in these moments of deep stillness we give birth to new possibilities in our personal lives, in our organizations, and in the larger world. From those acorns of inspiration, forests of understanding, peace, and justice in the greater world will be born. This fulfills La Casa’s higher purpose: to heal the earth and the people in it.”
Members of La Casa’s Board of Trustees, and board president Fran Burnford, were present as were many local leaders — including Carol Carrig, past director of the Center for Spiritual Renewal. Other donors to the campaign also attended the ceremony, including Kathleen Barry, Christine Garvey, Vicki Riskin and David Rintels, Letty Laufer and Daron Builta.
La Casa de Maria sponsors its own programs focusing on spiritual renewal, personal growth, education, health and healing, arts and civic renewal, and hosts a wide variety of community groups and nonprofits supporting those same goals. The Immaculate Heart Center for Spiritual Renewal, which functions alongside La Casa de Maria under the nonprofit umbrella of the Immaculate Heart Community, serves individuals and couples for non-structured, personal retreats.
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— Daniella Elghanayan is a publicist representing La Casa de Maria.