Community Newsletter: The DeKoven Center

Community Newsletter: The DeKoven Center

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2019 has been a year of change at The DeKoven Center. And one of the biggest changes is yet to come with the retirement of our executive director, Max Dershem, as of Dec. 31. We thank Max for his 13 years of dedicated service to the center and its mission, while we also look forward to what’s ahead for DeKoven under new leadership.

Recent years have brought significant growth at DeKoven in both the Wedding/Special Events and Retreat & Conference Center aspects of our non-profit foundation’s work. A wide range of improvements and additions have also been made to our historic, southside campus with a goal of not only preserving DeKoven’s heritage, but ensuring its continued place in Racine’s community. And, as we move forward, we still carry on the center’s long-standing tradition of offering opportunities for education and spiritual reflection to people of all faiths and backgrounds.

In the coming holiday season, those offerings will include two spiritual retreats, a Second Tuesdays program and a public performance of the family-friendly, one-act opera “Amahl & the Night Visitors.”

First on that list is DeKoven’s annual Advent Retreat, taking place at our Retreat & Conference Center Dec. 6-8. “Hearts Open to God” will be the theme of the weekend retreat, featuring a series of meditations and questions written by The Rev. Sam Portaro and presented by Max Dershem. There will also be time for reflection and participants can choose to be in silence if they wish. The Advent Retreat will begin with a reception at 5 p.m. Friday and continue through Sunday brunch. Cost, including accommodations and meals, is $225 per person.

Comfort & Joy

DeKoven’s “Comfort & Joy” retreat will return Dec. 24-25. Offered for the first time last year, this overnight retreat welcomes those in search of spiritual respite from the commercialism and busyness of the Christmas holiday. Religious scholar Susanne Sklar will once again lead this time together, featuring readings and responses meant to help us discover how and where to find comfort and joy during the holidays.

Each of last year’s participants attended for their own reasons, yet all seemed to come away from the retreat with a shared sense of peace. “I just have to thank you for one of our most memorable Christmases ever!” one couple told us. Another participant spoke of their deep appreciation for the retreat saying: “For the first time since my son died, I awoke to Christmas morning without pain in my heart.”

“Comfort & Joy” will open at 2 p.m. Dec. 24, and continue through breakfast Christmas morning. Participants also have the option of attending DeKoven’s Traditional Christmas Day Mass at 9 a.m. Dec. 25, as well as a Christmas Brunch that follows. The all-inclusive cost for this retreat is $100.

For more information and to register for these retreats, call 262-633-6401, ext. 110, or email More information is also available at

“Amahl & the Night Visitors”

Looking ahead to 2020, we hope you’ll join us for a special event presented by Racine’s Belle Ensemble in DeKoven’s Great Hall. Director Nick Barootian and company will perform “Amahl & the Night Visitors” at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 9-10.

This musical production tells the heartwarming story of a boy named Amahl, his poor mother, and three mysterious strangers who visit them one night during their desert journey to the birth of a great king. It was originally commissioned by NBC for television broadcast in 1951. Tickets cost $20 or $10 for students and children and are available at

DeKoven will offer a preview of “Amahl” the morning of Dec. 10, during our Second Tuesdays program. Second Tuesdays are a series of free, public programs that focus on a wide range of topics. This one will feature Barootian performing highlights from “Amahl” and will be held in Taylor Hall, from 10 a.m. to noon.

The DeKoven Center is located at 600 Caron Butler Drive. More information about all of its programs and services is available at


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