Maryhill Self-Service Renewal Center
Maryhill, built on 186 acres of rolling hills and pine forests just northeast of Pineville, has long been a retreat center for the Diocese of Alexandria, and also a Roman Catholic seminary.
Thousands of Louisiana residents have attended retreats at Maryhill over the decades, including those of us that attended Menard Memorial High School senior retreats there.
The Maryhill Youth Camp was attended by thousands of youths, ages 9-15, from 1951-1983 who enjoyed weeklong camp sessions. Activities at the camp were swimming, horseback riding, archery, canoeing, hiking, crafts, sports, talent shows and more.
Maryhill Self-Service Center
Now known as the Maryhill Self-Service Renewal Center, located at 600 Maryhill Road, the facility was founded in 1948 by the Most Reverend Charles P. Greco, Bishop of the Diocese of Alexandria.
More Maryhill Information
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Maryhill Self-Service Center offers year-round accommodations. Two large events can be hosted simultaneously, one at the Retreat Center on the south side of the lake and the other on the northern shore.
Maryhill events are self-hosted -- the space is provided and the renting group is responsible for its own program, all consumable supplies, meals, on-site housing, preparation and clean-up. There are local caterers and service companies willing to offer assistance.
Recent updates to facilities include the addition of new buildings, and the renovation of existing buildings.
Noted landmarks include the Stations of the Cross, the Rosary Garden, Main Chapel, Small Chapel, Wings 100-400, The Cedars, the Greco Room, Thompson Hall, and Ducote Hall. Visit the website of Maryhill Self-Service Center for a detailed map of the grounds and facilities.
Bishop Greco: Founder of Maryhill
The founder of Maryhill, Charles Pascal Greco, was born on October 29, 1894, in Mississippi, and grew up in New Orleans. He died at age 92 on January 20, 1987 in Alexandria. He was ordained in July of 1918 and was ordained as the Sixth Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Alexandria in 1946. He also served as Supreme Chaplin of the Knights of Columbus.
Bishop Greco was an accomplished builder ... in addition to Maryhill, he established 33 Catholic parishes, over 125 churches and chapels, 7 healthcare facilities, St. Mary's Residential Training School, and Holy Angels School in Shreveport. He was also instrumental in the construction of St. Francis Cabrini Hospital in Alexandria.
Bishop Greco is buried in a tomb in front of the main Maryhill chapel. Other religious from the Diocese of Alexandria are buried in the Maryhill Seminary Cemetery near the Maryhill entrance.
Camp Maryhill and the Star of the Sea
Many that grew up in CenLA also remember Camp Maryhill and the Knights of Columbus work there supporting the summer camp.
Maryhill is also remembered for its unique "Star of the Sea" ship on the lake, similar in design to the famous British ocean liner RMS Queen Elizabeth operated by Cunard Line.
The historic icon known as the "Star" was actually a boathouse that sheltered a fleet of small rowboats at Maryhill, and its doors swung open toward the lake at water level.
Each "vessel" shared many design characteristics, such as the two smoke stack arrangement, and the classic black hull and white upper deck paint scheme. It is pure speculation as to the inspiration of the Star of the Sea.
Bishop Greco, along with volunteers, built the ship, but in later years it fell into disrepair and was finally disassembled.
Historic Views of Camp Maryhill and the Star of the Sea
Aerial view of the Maryhill Retreat Center, with the "Star of the Sea" on the north shore of the lake, circa 1955
Photograph courtesy of the Louisiana History Museum in Alexandria
Star of the Sea on the lake at Maryhill Retreat Center, and its possible design inspiration, the RMS Queen Elizabeth
Star of the Sea
RMS Queen Elizabeth
Close-up view of the Star of the Sea on the lake at Maryhill in Pineville, Louisiana
Historic postcard of the Star of the Sea on the lake at the Knights of Columbus Maryhill Youth Camp
Postcard courtesy of Dale Genius and the Alexandria Vintage Postcard Collection
Maryhill Aerial View, Map and Driving Directions
Present-Day Photos of Maryhill Retreat Center
Links and Resources