Dunrovin Christian Brothers Retreat Center opened with its first retreat on Ash Wednesday, February 12, 1964.
The opening of a retreat facility for high school students fulfilled the dream of Brother Ildephonsus Damian Brown, FSC, president of Cretin High School in the 1940s. Brother Damian was instrumental in starting Christian Brothers’ retreat centers in St. Louis and Chicago. Although he died in 1952, his impact keeps the dream alive.
Brother J. Felix Scanlan, FSC, searched for a site where the Twin Cities Christian Brothers might establish a retreat center to serve their students. At that time, Catholic high schools required that all students attend a retreat before graduation.
In 1958, Brother Felix responded to an ad in the Catholic Bulletin, which offered for sale a 50-acre estate on the St. Croix River north of Stillwater. R. M. Hadrath, founder and head of Maple Island Inc. in Stillwater owned the property known as “Dunrovin.” The Hadrath family purchased the property in the mid-1940s from Arthur and Clara Packer, who operated the Morning Glory Trout and Game Preserve on the grounds, a place where businessmen could hunt, fish, board dogs, and enjoy the outdoors. The Hadrath family first used Dunrovin as a country home and later as a year-round residence.
A fundraising campaign to buy this land was organized by the Twin Cities Lasallian schools: Cretin, De La Salle, Hill and Benilde. Volunteers contacted alumni and friends. Thanks to many generous people, including the Hadrath family, the groundbreaking ceremony was held April 2, 1963, with Brother Felix moving the first shovel of dirt. At the formal dedication, Archbishop Leo Binz blessed the building and the grounds.
Over the years, the Center expanded to offer Christian hospitality to a variety of religious denominations and organizations.
- Rental groups enjoy space for their growth and retreat goals.
- Individuals are welcomed on personal retreats and refreshment.
- The River Cabin, Saint Francis Cottage, and Brother James Miller Garden House provide refreshment and rest year-round for individuals or small groups. (Some buildings are seasonal.)
- Dunrovin offers Summer Leadership Camp for inner-city youth.
- LEAD and DLITE teach high school students intensive leadership skills as they become servant leaders.
Dunrovin youth programs continue to be supported through the donations of people who believe that faith-based retreats draw our young people to Christ.
*St. John Baptist de La Salle founded the De La Salle Christian Brothers in France in 1681. His objective was to provide free education for poor children. His Brothers and schools are grounded in a spirit of faith and zeal, always remembering that “We are in the holy presence of God.”