West Virginia Institute for Spirituality Retreat & Training Center
Villa Marie Therese Couderc
Just as Saint Marie Victoire Therese Couderc opened the doors for women to deepen their prayer and spiritual lives, so does WVIS. Our doors are open to men and women alike who are seeking a safe place to nurture their spirits. Saint Marie Victoire Therese Couderc, the namesake of this beautiful facility dedicated her life to retreat ministry just as the men and women of WVIS do today.
When Marie Victoire Couderc was a young woman, her father brought her home from school to participate with the rest of the family in a mission to be given at the little town of Sablieres, in the South of France, near the hamlet where she was born. One of the missionaries was an energetic and zealous diocesan priest name Stephen Terme.
During the mission Marie Victoire revealed to Father Terme that she would like to enter religious life. Father Terme had recently founded a small group of sisters, called the Sisters of St. Regis, to serve villages without Christian schools, so he offered to take her right away to the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Regis. Marie Victoire’s father was not pleased with this idea. But after some time, he eventually relented, and Marie-Victoire became Sister Therese.
Fr. Terme saw the need for a hostel for women pilgrims. He had no money, but he did have a great trust in God, and before long the hostel opened. Sister Therese was sent to La Louvesc, first as novice director, then as superior, and when La Louvesc was named the mother house of the small congregation, she was named the superior general.
Under the influence of Mother Therese, what was originally a hostel was taking the first step toward becoming a retreat house where women could deepen their prayer and grow in the spiritual life. The process was completed when Father Terme introduced to the sisters the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. These exercises became an important element in the spirituality of the Cenacle Sisters as well as a way of helping the women who came to their house to draw closer to God.
In due time, the ministry of retreats was separated from the ministry of teaching school, and the congregation which would be called the Cenacle was born. This spiritual ministry is continued today in many countries throughout the world by the Sisters of the Cenacle.