We are named for St. Francis of Assisi, who believed that God's fingerprints were all over creation. In nature, he connected to the Divine Love that connects all things. St. Francis of the Woods is a place where all people from every spiritual background can find connection and the Love of the Creator. It is a place where all people are welcome. Sincere seekers on any of the countless spiritual paths are invited to share the grounds and facilities for worship, study, rest, work, and to be of service to one another, to God, and the Center.
St. Francis of the Woods is inspired by the love and respect St. Francis had for all creation. We are home to beautiful moss-covered walking trails meandering through woods of cedar, oak, and hickory. The trail has benches along the way for rest and meditation. Stations of the Cross icons near the benches can be used for a guided mediation. St. Francis of the Woods cares for a diverse Oklahoma landscape. Our mystical five-circuit “Prairie Labyrinth” is a beautiful way to experience our on-going prairie restoration project. It takes about an hour and a half to walk the whole thing at a meditative pace. Near the Library and Chapel, the grounds feature the Bishop John R.C. Adair Memorial Arboretum, and a beautiful pond. The HeartPaths Labyrinth is a recent donation from HeartPaths, a spiritual direction training program which has been based at St. Francis of the Woods since 2022.
Our mission is to empower people to renew their spirits and transform the world through community, creativity, and care for creation. We do this in a number of ways, primarily through our retreat center, the Hildegarden, Prairiewood Forest School, prairie restoration, our residential community, and chapel services. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us by phone or email. Our information is at the bottom of this page.
The seed out of which St. Francis of the Woods grew germinated during a solitary walk along the Ocean at a turning point in the life of Bishop John R.C. Adair. After serving as a priest and bishop in the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church in America for over twenty years, he was discouraged, deeply perplexed, and felt an inner urging to move on. Reflecting on readings from a recent gift, Catherine de Hueck Doherty’s book, Poustinia, there came a rush of tears—a sure sign of the Spirit’s presence and guidance. In time, his troubled spirit was renewed and energized by a vision of personal ministry through the creation of a shelter for spiritual seekers, inspired by the model of a poustinia. In Russian Orthodox tradition, a poustinia is a room or shelter set aside where travelers and pilgrims are welcomed to enable a time apart for prayer and inner reflection.
Guided by a Franciscan belief that nature teaches about the Divine, John found this beautiful sacred site to estabilish his poustinia. In 1976, construction began on the Farm House, which he dedicated to providing a shelter “for anyone God sends along.” In 1978, John married Kay Kerr. She shared his vision of poustinia and the two worked together to build this sacred place of welcome.
When it came time to name the evolving poustinia several things led to a single choice. One of the first gifts to the new center was a statue of St. Francis of Assisi, given by Osma Khoury. The Francisican influence of Father Dismas Markle, Presiding Bishop of the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church in America, following Bishop John’s retirement, had been an inspiration. Bishop Dismas gave several books and a first class relic of St. Francis of Assisi which is housed in the Chapel. During a visit to Santa Fe (“The city of the holy faith of Saint Francis of Assisi”), icons of St. Francis and St. Clare were purchased for the Chapel. Little by little the desire, conviction, and will emerged to dedicate the Center to Saint Francis and petition God to allow the qualities of Franciscan theology to permeate the grounds.
For more about St. Francis of the Woods' beginnings, click here for a booklet written by our founder, Kay Adair.