The Bishop DeFalco Retreat and Conference Center was dedicated on December 12, 1982. Throughout its history the center has welcomed thousands of guests annually.
The center is named after Bishop Lawrence M. DeFalco, the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Amarillo. It was his desire that a retreat center be built to serve the needs of the people in the Panhandle. He wanted it to be a source for spiritual renewal. Bishop DeFalco announced the retreat center project shortly before his untimely death in 1979.
The project was picked up by his successor, Bishop Leroy Matthiesen. It was under this bishop’s supervision that the center was built. For the first 16 years of its existence, members of the Redemptorists Order staffed the center.
The winding drive leading to the center symbolizes the course of life’s journey. Spiritual pilgrims travel a path that leads to God. Sweeping upwards, the graceful lines of the center reach to the heavens and declare the Lord’s glory by way of the cross. The adobe-like exterior and stucco trim capture the feel of both the Texas Panhandle and the Hispanic culture of the Southwest.
The large chapel at the retreat center is circular; a symbol for wholeness and eternity. The walls enfold the assembly as if to signify the tender embrace of God. This worship space is distinctive from the other sections of the facility, which are rectangular. This designates the chapel as a “special” place, a sacred place.
The courtyard is an oasis for weary travelers. Here one is reminded to “’Come by yourselves to an out-of-the-way place and rest a little’” (Mk 6:31). Amid lush greenery and myriads of flowering blossoms one can renew and be refreshed by the splendor of God’s creation.
Although the Bishop DeFalco Retreat and Conference Center was built and is sponsored by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Amarillo, it welcomes people of all faith traditions. The facility is also used by not-for-profit, educational, health, social service, and civic groups, all in keeping with the mission and values of the center.
Presently the retreat and conference center receives, not only, people from all over the West Texas Panhandle but from throughout the Southwest. It also hosts conferences that draw people from across the nation.
Bishop DeFalco’s dream has become a reality.