Historic Catholic Retreat Center In Marathon May Close


An historic and much-used spiritual retreat center in central Wisconsin will close forever unless new sponsors are found to continue its mission.

The St. Anthony Spirituality Center is an iconic Catholic institution on the banks of the Rib River in the city of Marathon. For almost 100 years, it has provided a quiet refuge, with a mission that has expanded beyond the friars who call it home, according to its director Father Dan Crosby.

“St. Anthony’s goes back to 1918. That’s our cornerstone. It was built as our Capuchin Franciscan house of theology. But in 1970 it became a retreat center.”

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The center provides meals and overnight rooms for businesses, nonprofits, and government and civic organizations. According to Crosby, 4,000 people made a pilgrimage to St. Anthony’s heavily wooded grounds last year.

“As long as the group has something connected with spirituality or human wholeness, they are welcome here. We’re not equivalent to a Holiday Inn or something like that.”

But St. Anthony’s is in trouble. The friars who run it are dwindling in number, and the center will close at the end of the year unless new sponsors are found. Crosby thinks that would be tragic.

“There really is no place like it in north central Wisconsin. Its closing is heartbreaking. This place, which is so good and so holy and so beautiful, it’s hardly imaginable that it would not be here to help the people in this area.”

Father Dan Crosby is hoping to find a group willing to purchase the St. Anthony Center and continue its mission.

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