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Welcome to Knobs …

Posted on February 20, 2023, by Christina Manweller

Knobs Haven: Warm, welcoming retreat spaces for individuals and groups

Knobs Haven is ‘a place of wholeness in a fragmented world.’

A retreatant describes Knobs Haven
Loretto Magazine, 1981

Hospitality and gentle grace are gifts you can relax into at Knobs Haven. The beautiful wood floors and staircases, tranquil sun porch, comfortable meeting and prayer spaces, lovingly appointed bedrooms, updated kitchen — all blend with a spirit of deep rest to bring a breath of respite. A retreatant described Knobs as “a stopping place on the journey into the heart of God.” Here you might set down your burdens; you may find yourself drawing from a well of living waters.

Two story brick building with white trim around the front posts, door and window frames.
The Knobs Haven retreat house feels like a venerable friend. It sits at the heart of the Motherhouse, just across the road from the stately Loretto Academy building, the old convent, Infirmary and dining room. Around back lies Badin Pond, a beautiful natural setting enjoyed by visitors and residents alike.
Photo by JoAnn Gates CoL

Founded in 1975 in a building built in 1873, Knobs abides at the heart of the Loretto Motherhouse, taking its place among the historic buildings and cradled by Mother Nature: green rolling hills (called “knobs” in Kentucky) and an abundance of trees hosting abundant bird life.

Headshot of JoAnn Gates
JoAnn Gates CoL has tended Knobs Haven since 2003.
Loretto staff photo

Knobs offers hospitality to individuals or groups for a weekend, a few days or a week. The two-story building holds a large, comfortable meeting room and an additional, generous space that might be used for prayer, yoga or meditation. The kitchen is spacious and offers filtered water, dinnerware, utensils, a dishwasher and plenty of room for preparing food.

There are books! Really good books! You’ll find an enticing array of poetry, fiction, nonfiction. You could live off these books, is the honest truth. An enclosed sun porch invites you to relax in a rocking chair before generous windows with your journal or one of the soul-feeding books and a fresh-steeped cup of tea.

Two tables with chairs in a room lined with bookcases.
The Knobs Haven retreat house on the Motherhouse grounds features bookcases filled with enticing offerings to whet your reading appetite.
Photo by JoAnn Gates CoL

With its inviting hospitality and gracious beauty, Knobs Haven is like a kind, venerable friend you’ll want to visit again and again.

Archival black and white photo of two women talking - one facing the camera and one with her back to it.
In a photo taken for Loretto Magazine around 1981, Elaine Prevallet SL provides spiritual direction to a retreatant. Elaine, who directed Knobs Haven for many years, called herself a “not very directive director”; the quiet, accepting approach she took in running the retreat center continues into the present day.
Photo by Jeanne Dueber SL, Loretto Magazine, 1981
Archival black and white photo of a nun in a veil standing next to two men who are seated. One is drinking from glass; the other is looking up at the nun as they share a laugh.
In this 30-year-old photo taken in the Motherhouse dining room, Dolorita Williams SL jokes with deacons who are on retreat at Knobs Haven.
Photo by Anthony Mary Sartorius SL, Loretto Magazine, 1981

Those who yearn for time in nature will find the path to Badin Pond just a few steps out the door. The stroll around the pond is suitable for those able to manage jaunts of about a quarter mile on a concrete path; benches provide places to rest. Elsewhere on the Motherhouse property are Mary’s Lake and Joseph’s Lake, providing longer walks on unpaved paths. The Motherhouse Farm is a short walk up the road; you may get lucky and meet some newborn calves.

Purple-blue clouds, green trees and grass and a white statue of St. Mary are reflected in the water of a pond.
Badin Pond, a delightful site for walking and meditating, lies just steps from the Knobs Haven retreat house.
Photo by Christina Manweller

Knobs’s air-conditioned house features seven bedrooms and two full baths and easily accommodates 10 persons. A second space, with room for an additional 16 occupants, is available across the street in the historic Academy Building. In addition to charming bedrooms, it includes a large gathering area, fully-equipped kitchen, dormitory-style bathroom and a single full bathroom. An elevator is available, with access to a ground-level ramp.

Knobs Haven is ‘. . . a stopping place on the journey into the heart of God.’

A retreatant describes Knobs Haven
Loretto Magazine, 1981
Comfortable chairs are arranged around the perimeter of the room, with a wooden staircase ascending the back wall.
The comfortable meeting room at Knobs invites group sharing or contemplative time.
Photo by JoAnn Gates CoL
Two twin beds, a table and lamp between them, are neatly made up with floral quilts. Sunlight streams through the window behind them.
A bedroom in the Knobs Haven retreat house offers comfort and rest.
Photo by JoAnn Gates CoL
Sunlight streams into a kitchen with center island
The newly-remodeled kitchens in the Knobs Haven retreat house and the Academy building are utilitarian and attractive. Individuals and groups can easily prepare and store their food. Dishes and dishwashers are available. Here is the updated Knobs kitchen.
Photo by JoAnn Gates CoL
A kitchen with warm wood decor and a center island.
The kitchen in the Academy building (across the street from the Knobs retreat house), where additional accommodations are available for larger retreat groups.
Photo by JoAnn Gates CoL

To learn more about Knobs Haven, visit the Knobs webpage.

To read all the articles in the Winter 2022-2023 issue of Loretto Magazine, click here.


Christina Manweller

Editor of Loretto Magazine, Christina’s nonfiction and poetry has appeared in numerous publications. For many years she served as Director of Communications for a Colorado-based peace and justice organization. Her background also includes English and writing instruction at a local community college, digital and print design work, and photography. One of her joys is visiting the Loretto Motherhouse once or twice a year.
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