The House of Prayer
The idea of Houses of Prayer was the brainchild of Father Bernard Haring, CSSR, who first broached the notion publicly in 1965. The proposal caught on like wildfire, and within a few years it turned into an international movement. The concept kindled the interest of many persons reading the signs of the times with regard to the renewal of religious life after Vatican Council II. Among these were Father Thomas Merton, OCSO, Sister Ann Chester, IHM, and Sister Margaret Brennan, IHM.
The basic idea of an apostolic congregation having a House of Prayer is this: With the profound changes in religious life that followed the Council, certain perennial values need to be safeguarded and witnessed within religious institutions. These values include silence, solitude, prolonged solitary prayer, the leisure to study the masters of spirituality -- all within a supportive community of like-spirited and praying persons.
Yet, Houses of Prayer are not exclusively for professed religious. They are also for anyone drawn interiorly to share in the experience of those values. Thus, people availing themselves of Houses of Prayer could be lay, religious or cleric from a diversity of ecclesial affiliations and religious traditions. Some guests could be spiritual seekers without any religious affiliation. Each House of Prayer has a community which provides stability, continuity and hospitality.