North Palm Beach, Florida Historical Summary

In 1959 Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll of the Archdiocese of Miami invited the Passionists to establish their first laymen’s retreat house in the southeast United States. In the same year property was purchased in North Palm Beach. In 1960 Fathers Kilian McGowan, Cyril Schweinberg, and Colman Haggerty began retreat promotion from their residence in Lake Park. The first retreat was at the Holiday Inn, Palm Beach, in April 1961. In June 1962, Our Lady of Florida, an architectural gem situated on 26 acres along U.S. Highway One and overlooking Lake Worth and the Intracoastal Waterway, was dedicated. Brother Cajetan J. B. Baumann, O.F.M., the architect, received critical acclaim for the unique cruciform design which he created.

The retreat ministry, beginning as a men’s retreat house, has expanded to include retreats for women, married couples, and other groups. Not surprisingly, the center remains a popular winter destination for meetings of religious organizations and a place of spiritual renewal for clergy and religious worldwide.

For over ten years the Seton Hall Institute for Clergy Formation has held one of its workshops here in January. Three regions of bishops and chaplains from three branches of the Armed Forces have held their annual retreats at Our Lady of Florida.

In 1970 Father Charles Sullivan founded and was appointed the first pastor of St. Paul of the Cross Church, North Palm Beach. The new church was dedicated in 1974. It was returned to the pastoral care of the Diocese of Palm Beach in 1989.

Retreat Directors

Fr. Paul Wierichs2007-Present
Fr. Francis Finnigan 1992-2007
Fr. Paul Ruttle1986-1989
Fr. Roger Gannon1982-1986
Fr. Brendan Breen1974-1982
Fr. Colman Haggerty1968-1974
Fr. Kilian McGowan1962-1968