ADVENT BLESSINGS TO YOU AND YOURS:  "Devotion-by-Distance Insights" (Week of 11/30/20)

As we enter the sacred season of Advent in anticipation of the birth of Christ, this is the perfect time to follow some of the traditions that have been practiced throughout the centuries.  

Advent is a wondrous time of expectation and hope.  The term "Advent" means "arrival" or "coming", and it encourages us to take a moment each day in December to focus on why Jesus came at Christmas. 

Traditions vary by country, but some of the more common methods of understanding Advent and the coming birth of Jesus are through prayers, wreaths, candles, and calendars. 

The first Advent wreath was formed on a wagon-wheel in Germany in 1839, having been created by a Lutheran minister, and it included candles to light each day of Advent. As time went on, the Advent wreath was adapted using evergreens and the colored candles lit on each Sunday of Advent (purple on the 1st, 2nd, and 4th Sundays with pink lit on the 3rd Sunday). Special prayers accompany the lighting of the candles along with perhaps an appropriate Advent hymn and Scriptural reading.  

Ideally, any Advent tradition throughout December should involve families or those with whom we share our lives each day, helping each of us remember why we celebrate the blessed feast of Christmas. (Adapted from L. Richie,

Now ask yourself, "What special Advent traditions or customs will I bring into my home, and into my heart, as I prepare for the coming of the Lord at Christmas?  What do I need to do today to make this happen?" 

(More on Advent traditions in next week's "Devotion-by-Distance Insights".  Please share your comments and ideas via email [email protected] or call 716/754-7376, Ext. 1.)



Unfortunately, due to the increased rise of the COVID-19 virus in Western New York, the Center of Renewal Retreat & Conference Center has had to temporarily suspend any daytime or overnight guest visits, meetings, or retreats until at least the end of December 2020.  

TO CONTACT OUR STAFF:  Please call us at (716) 754-7376 to make reservations for future dates from January 2021 through December 2024.  Our offices are staffed on a flexible basis, and phone messages are retrieved daily.  We look forward to welcoming you in the near future to the Center of Renewal at Stella Niagara. 

In the meantime, please return frequently to our website for "Devotions-by-Distance Insights", i.e., periodic inspirational thoughts and readings such as our Advent Blessings above on our homepage, other distance learning retreat options, and more. 



Stella Niagara's Center of Renewal Retreat & Conference Center provides the ideal location for your next retreat ... or perhaps your first one.  We have been sharing our interfaith hospitality for over 46 years in retreat center ministry here in Western New York.  Only 10 miles north of majestic Niagara Falls, New York, Center of Renewal at Stella Niagara is a community of service. In the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, we provide hospitality, promote spiritual growth, and foster the development of people. Individuals and groups are welcome to this environment of peace and beauty.
Center of Renewal Retreat & Conference Center at Stella Niagara (COR) is a welcoming interfaith retreat center sponsored by Sisters of St. Francis of Penance & Christian Charity, Holy Name Province.
Able to house up to approximately 50 guests and multiple groups applying COVID-19 safety limitations in our overnight faith-based facility, Center of Renewal is located on the grounds of Stella Niagara, two miles north of the Village of Lewiston, New York and only ten miles north of majestic Niagara Falls, an easy drive on the Niagara Scenic Parkway. Currently in our 46th anniversary of retreat center ministry, COR officially opened in July 1974 and has operated year-round since then. 
The retreat center offers sponsored retreats, faith-based workshops, values-based programs, excursions & adventures, plus hospitality for retreats and meetings of varying types of organized groups and not-for-profit organizations.  New offerings in late summer 2020 will include various online programs in spiritual growth and wellness provided in a variety of formats. 
Center of Renewal at Stella Niagara provides a wide variety of spiritual enrichment and learning opportunities for adults seeking growth, relaxation, reflection, study, and healing.
A quiet, peaceful site, Center of Renewal at Stella Niagara offers:
  • Retreats (single days, evenings, overnights)
  • Reflective, contemplative times and locations on property including outdoor labyrinth, nature trails, Peace Garden, riverside chapel, Stations of the Cross and more
  • Arts and crafts (by advance arrangements)
  • Music (piano in Main Lounge and organ in COR Chapel meeting room)
  • Spiritual directors available by advanced appointment for private or group retreatants
  • Various sponsored and group programs
  • On-site professional group facilitator plus spiritual directors available for customized retreats and workshops on various topics and themes  
  • Events include private or group retreats, workshops, spiritual and wellness events, excursions & adventures, and more
  • Located immediately across the road from Stella Niagara Preserve (leading to the Lower Niagara River), owned and operated by the Western New York Land Conservancy
As an option to further enhance your group day and overnight retreats and meetings, our executive director is a certified master trainer and facilitator who is available to deploy programs, workshops, and retreats on multiple customized topics for your group.

Call us today to schedule your upcoming retreat, workshop, program, gathering, or meeting (716) 754-7376, Ext. 1 or 2.  We look forward to welcoming you to the Center of Renewal at Stella Niagara!


Find us on:

Retreat Finder 


Niagara Frontier Faith Heritage Trail Tour

Upcoming Events

Call us to reserve your retreat dates now for 2021-2022-2023-2024.

See also our many sponsored retreats, excursions, and adventures listed below and under "PROGRAMS".

  • ADVENT RETREATS  Celebrate the weeks of Advent in preparation for the coming of our Lord at Christmas.   Discussion groups are being formed for transmittal via online Zoom to be in accordance with New York State pandemic precautions and guidelines.  Call for more information (716) 754-7376, Ext. 1.   
  • NEW OFFERINGS! ONLINE RETREATS, VIRTUAL BOOK CLUB, RETREATS-ON-DEMAND, and more (via Zoom & Podcasts) are now being formed to begin this fall. Enjoy learning more about a myriad of spiritually-based topics, including exploring Bible basics for Catholics, creating a stress-less home through de-cluttered strategies, or just appreciating the joy in life through books. Many sessions will be moderated to balance the discussion and engage all participants, while others will be structured for individualized learning and enjoyment. To join and/or for more information, simply send an email to [email protected] or call us at (716) 754-7376, Ext. 1.  We look forward to sharing insights together!
  • 2021 HOLY WEEK  EASTER TRIDUUM RETREAT:  Three-night overnight retreat will be held concurrently with a Directed Retreat Week in 2021.  The Easter Triduum retreat will begin with Wednesday evening dinner on March 31 through Saturday lunch on April 3, 2021 (three nights and four days).  Plan now to experience Holy Week and the Easter Triduum from a new perspective.  Call Center of Renewal at Stella Niagara (716-754-7376, Ext. 1 for more information).   
  • 2021 ANNUAL DIRECTED RETREAT WEEK will be held duringl Holy Week in 2021 concurrently with a Holy Week Easter Triduum Retreat.  The Directed Retreat will be held during Holy Week from Monday evening dinner through Saturday, March 29 through Saturday lunch, April 3, 2021 (five nights and six days during Holy Week). Spiritual directors will be posted as confirmed.. Call us at 716-754-7376, Ext. 1 or 2 to receive information later this fall..

  • CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER GROUP is scheduled to resume meeting again on Tuesday, October 6th. The group meets the 1st Tuesday evening of each month (with periodic exceptions during holidays and summer). Advance reservations are not needed for this ongoing event.  Questions? Please call Center of Renewal at 716-754-7376, Ext. 1 or 2.

  • POSTPONED TEMPORARILY:  NEW GROUP & FAMILY PROGRAMS AVAILABLE: FAITH-BASED EXCURSIONS & ADVENTURES day motor coach programs (see details on this website under PROGRAMS: EXCURSIONS & ADVENTURES.  Call us at 716-754-7376, Ext. 1 or 2 for more information as available, including our



Inpriational Corner

Support Our Ministry