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Institute for Spirituality dedicates new prayer, reflection space

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Two stained glass windows, designed and installed by two local artists, adorn the Nazareth House, the newest private prayer space at the West Virginia Institute of Spirituality in Charleston. A dedication ceremony for the Nazareth House will be held Saturday Feb. 16 at 3:30 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia Institute of Spirituality will dedicate its newest private prayer space when it opens the Nazareth House later in February.The Nazareth House, which sits on the institute's campus on Virginia Street East in Charleston, was built on the former site of the Walker Floral Home greenhouse, said Kathy Lester, an associate spiritual director with WVIS. Lester said when the Cenacle House -- which was used for awakening and deepening of faith with and for the people of modern times -- closed years ago, the nuns who lived there bought the floral home space and have been "living there and providing retreat services and educational services for individuals," who want to continue their spiritual education with God. For years, the sisters tried to fix up the greenhouse space, but nothing worked. It wasn't until Lester said she had inspiration from God that she was able to visualize the greenhouse as a separate prayer retreat. "I was frustrated at not having enough space in the main house to meet with my directees," Lester said. Lester helps guide people who are going through the spiritual director program at the Institute. The nondenominational Institute is "is dedicated to providing space and opportunities for deepening mindfulness, prayer practice, interior peace, and for integrating moral and ethical values," according to the organizations website. When there would be contemporary prayer going on in the main house and Lester would need to meet with someone privately in another part of the house, she would have to walk through the main room "disturbing their prayer."She was standing outside in the garden one day after having "a very successful year" and looked at the greenhouse and was inspired to do more. "Once I said 'yes' to God, things started to fall into place," she said.
The Institute followed through with permits and permissions from the historical society and the planning commission and raised the new building on the site of the former greenhouse. Inside, there are two individual rooms that people can reserve and go to for spiritual direction. In addition, there is another space -- dubbed the prayer space -- that will be a relaxing spot for prayer and meditation. That space has two stained glass windows, designed by local artist Amy Williams. Chris Dutch, another local artist who has worked with area churches, made the stained glass windows and installed them. "They're beautiful," Lester said.
The prayer space is "full of light" for people who go there to seek guidance and deepen one's relationship with God.  A dedicated ceremony for the Nazareth House will be Feb. 16 at 3:30 p.m. at 1601 Virginia St. E. WVIS Executive Director Carole Riley, who is also a professor of piano and music education at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, has invited a group of choral students to perform at the dedication ceremony. For more information, visit or email Reach Kathryn Gregory at or 304-348-5119.
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