MorningStar Renewal Center in Pinecrest has been quietly serving the community since the Archdiocese of Miami bought the property in 2004 from the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine di Ricci. The archdiocese recently paid off the property’s $2.2 million mortgage, prompting MorningStar to continue its rich tradition of retreat work begun by the Sisters in the 1960s with a sense of renewal.
“Our board is totally re-energized, said director Sue DeFerrari. “We are here to stay and serve this community. This is a huge vote of confidence for what we do here.”
What MorningStar does is serve the local, national and international community in three ways: as a retreat center; by offering its vast amenities to individuals, businesses and organizations for meetings and events; and through its faith-based programs offered to parents and families.
Nestled on 10 acres in Pinecrest, MorningStar provides visitors with a conference room that can accommodate 100 people, a dining room that provides full food service by an onsite chef and a chapel for those seeking the opportunity for worship. For groups staying overnight, newly renovated semi-private rooms and dormitory- style showers and bathrooms comfortably house 80 people. Each room has two twin beds, individual climate controls, a sink and a view of the center’s lush grounds.
“The gift of this property is that we are able to accommodate one-day or multi-day retreats, and day or evening meetings, programs and special events,” said DeFerrari. “Our home becomes your home. We are able to provide resources and services that a hotel or conference center cannot provide at a rate that cannot be beat.”
More than 80 volunteers assist with serving those who visit MorningStar. Groups visiting this spring include the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) from Genesee, Colorado; a chapter of Amigos de las Americas, based in Houston, Texas; the Eastern Synod of Lutheran Young Adults; and college students from Ambassador for Children.
Annually in November, MorningStar hosts a small army of people who gather for The Smart Ride – a two-day bike ride from Miami to Key West that benefits AIDS service organizations.
“We become the group’s administrative headquarters and the starting point for their two-day journey,” said DeFerrari. “On race day, our volunteers begin preparing breakfast at 2 a.m. to serve the 300 bikers who ride out of MorningStar at sunrise.”
On a local level, MorningStar serves as a depot for Camillus House food donations. During the recent Pinecrest Relay for Life, the center’s parking lots and grounds were used for event parking. The center has been the site of weddings, birthdays and anniversary parties and business seminars.
MorningStar hosted its first food truck event in February and more than 200 cars came through to enjoy the culinary delights. On March 12, local Girl Scouts convened on MorningStar to observe the organization’s 100-year anniversary with a Chinese lantern send off, an outdoor movie and celebration open to the public.
MorningStar Renewal Center offers many programs, creating more opportunities for spiritual, personal and community growth. The center offers women’s bible study, parenting lectures, couples seminars, ‘tween talks and healthy-living seminars. DeFerrari said that anyone with a passion and an idea can come to MorningStar and offer their program to the community.
“The community and the mayor of Pinecrest, Cindy Lerner, have been extremely supportive of our events and initiatives,” said De Ferrari. “We are very excited to take our message to the community and share the excitement of our future.”
MorningStar Renewal Center is located at 7275 SW 125 St. For more information, call 305-238-4367 or visit www.morningstarrenewalcenter.org.