About Us

Mayslake Ministries: Engaging Catholics in a Modern World

If this is not a place where tears are understood, Then where shall I go to cry?

And if this is not a place where my spirit can take wings, Then where shall I go to fly?

I don’t need another place for trying to impress you with just how good and virtuous I am.

I don’t need another place for always being on top of things; everybody knows that it’s a sham.

I don’t need another place for always wearing smiles, even when it’s not the way I feel.

I don’t need another place to mouth the same old platitudes; everybody knows that it’s not real.

So if this is not a place where my questions can be asked, then where shall I go to seek?

And if this is not a place where my heart cry can be heard, where, tell me where, shall I go to speak?

I need a place to seek. A place to speak. A place to cry. A place to fly.

-Ken Medema

Formerly known as the St. Francis Retreat House in Oak Brook, Illinois, Mayslake Ministries is a lay led 501.c.3 Catholic/Christian Not-for Profit Spirituality Center founded by Fr. Jonathan Foster, OFM, in 1991 as a “retreat house without walls.”  Since 1991, Mayslake Ministries has served the spiritual needs of Christian/Catholic adult men and women from all walks of life, providing multiple spiritual opportunities for people who seek a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.  Our programs and services are sanctioned by the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Dioceses of Joliet and Rockford, IL and include:

  • Individual Spiritual Direction
    • 25 Spiritual Directors on staff
  • Pastoral Counseling
    • 2 Pastoral Counselors on staff
  • Weekend Retreats
    • Silent and Quiet Retreats for Men and Women
  • Adult Enrichment Programs
    • Includes: Centering Prayer, Intimacy with God, Mysticism programs, Liturgical Ministry Training
  • Dynamic Parish Mission Speakers
    • Topics include: Pope Francis, The Eucharist, and the Blessed Mother
  • Inspiring blogs and videos
    • Candy Kisses from God blog
    • Mornings with Meg, Lunches with Lauren, and Caregivers Video Series
  • Marriage Enrichment
  • Grief Support
  • Mom’s Ministry
  • Veteran’s Ministry
  • Caregiver’s Ministry
  • On Holiday with God Travel Ministry
  • Parish Based Resource for Adult Faith Formation Speakers
  • Soul Snackin with Dr Mary Amore cable tv show

Here’s what some people had to say about our programs this past year:

“Mayslake Ministries has allowed my soul to be refreshed and renewed. They provide a space for me to re-examine my priorities.  I feel restored.”  Sue B

“I love the evening prayers on Facebook each day. They are a perfect way to end my day. The bring gratitude to my heart. Thank you, Mayslake Ministries, and God bless you for your efforts.  Chris M

“In today’s world when all seems to go not as you expect, a word of encouragement is so uplifting and helps me refocus on Jesus. Thank you, Mayslake Ministries, for being a source of strength when I needed it most.”  Ann M.

I just watched your Soul Snackin’ on anxiety. It seems so timely since I read in my devotional today the suggestion to write out your concerns and place them in a basket (God’s in-box) taking the concern away from me and giving it to God. The program is wonderful and Dr. Jarvis was very helpful. Thank you again and again, Dr. Mary, for all that you do. I keep saying it, because it’s true, you are a gift!!  Fran M


Dr. Mary Amore – Executive director

Dr. Mary Amore, Executive Director holds a Doctor of Ministry Degree in Liturgy and Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies from Catholic Theological Union. Dr. Amore is the author of Primary Symbols of Worship and the Call to Participation, as well as the creator of the DVD Series: Eucharist: Pathway of Transformation, Healing and Discipleship published by Pauline Media. A Cardinal Bernardin Scholar and distinguished member of the North American Academy of Liturgy, Mary has been a presenter at the RE Congress, University of Dallas Ministry Conference, Diocese of New Hampshire Ministry Conference, as well as conducting parish missions, retreats, and adult faith formation programs. A monthly blogger for CatholicMom.com, and a columnist for Ministry and Liturgy magazine, Dr. Amore serves as the Executive Director of Mayslake Ministries.

Betty Bentley – Office Administrator

Betty Bentley has been involved in ministry for the past 20 years, serving the Church at both the parish and diocesan levels. In addition to her role as Office Coordinator for Mayslake Ministries, Betty enjoys developing and presenting retreats for youth who are preparing to receive the Sacraments of Reconciliation, Eucharist and Confirmation. Betty is married and the mother of four young adults.

Lauren Nelson- Director of Communication and Media

Lauren Nelson has a bachelor of arts in Theology from Dominican University in River Forest. She has worked previously in religious education and youth ministry. Lauren is the presenter of our popular “Lunches with Lauren” video series and the author of our Advent online retreat and co-authored our Easter online retreat, “Rising from the Ashes.” Lauren holds a certificate in Inbound  and Social Media Marketing. She is married to Steve and is the mother of two young daughters, Alice and Amelia.

Sheri Abel, Ph.D.- Director of Program Initiatives

Sheri Abel, Ph.D. is the current Director of Program Initiatives at Mayslake Ministries. Sheri holds a Doctorate in Adult Education, a Master’s degree in Pastoral Studies from Loyola, and a CAS in Liturgy from the Pontifical Liturgical Institute at St. Anselmo, Rome. Sheri has served as a Pastoral Associate, Parish Formation Director, multi-aged formation program designer, and teacher in the Joliet Diocese for 40 years. Sheri has been a Professor of Religious Studies at Benedictine University and the College of DuPage. She facilitates retreats, workshops, and seminars on various liturgical and faith topics. She has conducted continuing education programs for school and RE faculties, RCIA, RCIC, Youth Ministry, and Adult ministry leaders. She is currently designing and developing a Mayslake Professional Certification program for spiritual director candidates.

Fr. Jonathan Foster, OFM 


Board of Directors

Joann Hillebrand – President

Joann Hillebrand is a Past-President of the National Council of Catholic Women. She served 8 years as Treasurer General of the World Union of Catholic Women’s’ Organizations (WUCWO). She has been an active leader on all rings of Council serving as parish president, Joliet Diocesan President, and Chicago Province Director. Joann has held various positions on the National Board before her election as President including Treasurer and International Concerns Chair. At the end of her term as NCCW President, Joann was given the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (For Church and Pope) medal. This is the highest honor given to lay people for their work in the Church. Joann’s volunteer involvement has not been limited to CCW. In 2000 she received the Outstanding Alumnae award for her service to the church and community from Trinity High School. She received the De La Salle Award in 1998, from Lewis University for her outstanding dedication to the Catholic community. In 1997 she received the Distinguished Service Award from Catholic Charities for her dedication and commitment to the mission of Catholic Charities. She also received the Bradley University Parents ‘ Association Service Award for her work as a member of the Board of Directors and the Illinois Hospital Association Leadership Award for her service to her local hospital. She has been and continues to be involved in her local church and community. She served as an advisor to the Bishops’ Committee on Women in Society and in the Church with only six other women from across the country. Joann is a graduate of Dominican University (formerly Rosary College) and studied at the Institute de Hautes Etudes and The University of Fribourg in Switzerland. She is a former elementary teacher.

Al McGovern

Al McGovern has been happily married to Mary Jo since 1982, and has 3 grown children. Born in Bridgeport, CT, he received a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the Columbia University School of Engineering, and an MS in Management Engineering from the University of Bridgeport. His present position as Director of Mechanical Engineering for Shure Incorporated is providing him a great opportunity to pursue his passion for mechanical engineering design; he is an inventor on 8 Issued and 7 Published US Patents. A lifelong Catholic, he quickly discovered many opportunities for Stewardship in the vibrant faith community of Naperville after he moved there in 1997. He is past President of the Concerned Parents Association of Prospect, CT, the Product Development and Design Division of the Society of Plastic Engineers, and has been on the Mayslake Board of Directors since 2014.

LuAnne Shields

LuAnn Shields is a retired principal and currently working as an educational consultant. LuAnn’s background in elementary education, with a specialization in early childhood education and special education, offers a leadership perspective in working across a variety of settings.

LuAnn is a member of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Darien. “The opportunity to participate as a member of the Mayslake Ministries Board is an invitation to enrich my experiences of God’s work within the community. “


Joseph Abel PhD.

Joe Abel holds a PhD in Educational Psychology from Walden University, a MA in Systematics from University of Notre Dame, a Master of Pastoral Studies from Loyola, and a Master of Divinity from University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Mn. Joe has served as an adjunct professor of humanities at the College of DuPage and Benedictine University. He is certified as a professional life coach by both the International Coaching Federation and the Coaches Training Institute.

Mary Kostic

Mary earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education from California University of Pennsylvania and a Masters of Arts and Teaching at the University of Pittsburgh. Subsequent to teaching elementary education, Mary focused her attention to raising her three children and undertaking various volunteer positions in their schools and in the Catholic Church. She has been actively involved in parish ministry for over 25 years and holds a Certificate of Certification in the Liturgy Certification Program of the Diocese of Joliet. Mary is the co-owner of Petals and Stems, a design firm providing services related to interior design and home staging and is also a member of the Board of Directors for Weir International, Inc. and Gemsar LLC, companies providing professional opinion and engineering services to the United States and International energy industries. She has been happily married to her husband Dennis for forty years and has three wonderful adult children and five beautiful grandchildren and is a parishioner at Holy Spirit Catholic Community in Naperville, Illinois. Mary joined Mayslake Ministries’ Board of Directors in 2014.

Mike Hobbs

Mike Hobbs

My support of Mayslake Ministries grew out of my interest in supporting an organization that offered really good spiritual direction. Over several years of being a recipient of spiritual direction offered through Mayslake Ministries, I continue to be very appreciative of the direction and support I have received. When things were financially difficult for Mayslake for a number of years, I was motivated to help them survive. As a recipient of really good spiritual directions during some very difficult times in my life, I truly understand the benefits of supporting Mayslake. I will continue to support Mayslake because this organization really gets it, when it comes to serving people in need. Raised on a farm outside Fort Knox, Kentucky with his eight brothers and sisters, Mike Hobbs’ childhood home could not be much further away – both geographically and culturally – from his current home in downtown Chicago. He first traveled away from home to attend Bellarmine University where he received a BA of Philosophy and later a Masters of Business Administration. Mike’s 40 year career spans every facet of the glass industry — retail, wholesale, manufacturing, and fabrication. In 1995, as a sales executive at Marsco Manufacturing, he successfully engineered a management buyout of the company. Mike led Marsco through years of double-digit growth and dramatic margin improvements, even in the face of increasingly competitive market conditions. As Marsco began pioneering new technologies, Mike had the vision to recognize the potential of heated glass. He transformed Marsco into Engineered Glass Products (EGP) and positioned the company on the forefront of this emerging field. Visionary. Revolutionary. Pioneer. Mike Hobbs has been all these things at Engineered Glass Products. Under his leadership, EGP has become an innovative leader on the cutting edge of new technology. As CEO of EGP, Mike continues to spur innovation, design new specialized products, and explore new frontiers of technology and marketing. Mike is the proud father of four grown sons; three of whom also live in Chicago and two who work for his company. In recent years, he has come to know the joys of “grand parenting” starting with his twin granddaughters in 2004 and ending up with a total of five granddaughters and three grandsons with the last arriving Jan 1, 2013. Mike serves as a lector and Eucharistic Minister at Old St. Patrick’s Church in downtown Chicago, sits on the Board of Trustees at Bellarmine University, and is a Director of the privately held Iowa Glass Company. In his free time, he loves to visit his family in Kentucky, travel and play golf – preferably traveling to a new location to play golf! Mike joined the Board of Directors of Mayslake Ministries in 2015.

Alice Smith

Alice Smith, a Family and Consumer Sciences expert, holds a Master of Science in Home Economics Education. Her ministry, What’s New with You and Jesus, examines family life knowing that Jesus is the reason for healthy family dynamics. As a Christian writer, she weaves scripture and prayer into stories resulting in a spiritual legacy. Alice co-hosts Soul Snackin’, a cable television program and serves on the Mayslake Ministries Board of Directors.