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St. Joseph's Prayer Center. Long Island, New York, USA

To begin, it is important to mention the Society of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which came about in the late 1990’s. Fr. James J. Wheeler, S.J., met with a triad of Prayer Center Directors, Sr. Dymphna Murray, R.S.M., New York; Mrs. Maria Esther Barnetche, Mexico and Mrs. Ginny Antaya, Texas. Through their prayer and discernment the idea of developing a Society that would be an umbrella under which the present and future prayer centers would be formally united, while keeping their individual names. The name for the society came from prayer and discernment from all the Directors. The Patron Saint of the Americas was chosen, Our Lady of Guadalupe. This was a formal acknowledgement of the place our Dear Mother held in the hearts of those ministering as well as the important part Our Blessed Lady played in inner healing, at all the centers.

During one of the annual meetings of all prayer center directors in Mexico City, they went to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. There the lay directors made a vow to follow the vows of Poverty, Chastity and Charity. These vows were to be practiced in the context of each person’s calling along with the recital of a daily rosary. Directors brought back all teachings to their respective centers from these yearly meetings.
To continue with the History of St. Joseph's Prayer Center, it was at the end of the 1960’s and the beginning of 1970’s that Father James J. Wheeler S.J. and Sister Mary Dymphna Murray, R.S.M. following a Charismatic prayer experience, felt called to begin a Ministry of Healing Prayer and Spiritual Direction. This ministry was and still is a need for the laity involved in the Charismatic Renewal Movement within the church.
Father and Sister’s ministry was first offered at Mercy Center in Rockville Center, N.Y. Soon with an increase of people seeking to be ministered to, more space was needed. St. Joseph's Church, Kings Park, N.Y. had an unused convent that Pastor McCormick invited Sister and Father to rent.
During their time at St. Joseph's the formal name for the center was established as “St. Joseph's Prayer Center” Fr. Jim and Sr. Dymphna resided at the Center, in order to be available for their very active ministry. In time, four more Sisters, each from different orders, came to the Center to pray and learn the ministry and eventually became ministers as well.
In addition to individual ministry there were:
Healing Masses: Many physical and inner healings occurred.
Couples’ Group and a women’s group were developed for those who had been ministered to individually. These folks had the desire to continue on with their Spiritual Journey, at the center, and form a community. Each group met once a month and began with a shared meal followed by praying a scripture, then breaking into a smaller group where they could minister to each other. Individual daily prayer was required along with having a Hermit Day once a month at the center. Each meeting ended with celebration of the Eucharist. Fr. Jim and Sr. Dymphna led both groups.
The Truth Will Set You Free: A series of video talks with a work book, given by Father Matthew Linn, S.J. and Father Dennis Linn, S.J. This was offered as a prelude to inner healing and possible entry into school.
School for Spiritual Growth & Inner Healing: In February of 1978, the school was offered for the first time. Many of the folks coming for ministry were hungry for a deeper Spirituality and had a desire to become more conscious of their inner wounds and have a closer walk with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This school was developed by Fr. Jim with the support and organization of Sr. Dymphna. The program taught different types of prayer, encouraged Hermit Days, daily mass and offered abundant scriptures to enable inner healing. A spiritual director or guide, of the participant’s choice, was required along with attending the follow up sessions in a smaller group meeting. The school was 2 years in duration and entailed a serious commitment for those attending and still does.

Sister Dymphna in an interview with The Long Island Catholic, in March of 1979, when asked about the response to the School for Spiritual Growth &Inner Healing being offered stated, “Response to the school was a movement within the church led by the Holy Spirit.” Sister also commented that, at St. Joseph's Prayer Center, “There were 19 lay men and women ministering and 12 people who answered the phone and prayed with those needing prayer.”
The School for Spiritual Direction: In the summer of 1979, Fr. Jim received an invite from the Board of Charismatic Renewal in Albuquerque, New Mexico. They had heard of the School for Spiritual Growth & Inner Healing and requested that Father bring the school to them. Additionally, they wanted Father to teach them how to pray for inner healing and give spiritual direction. Because of this request, the School for Spiritual Direction came about, to specifically train those called to this ministry. This also was a 2 year school. Guest religious and professional speakers taught along with Father Jim and Sister Dymphna. Daily mass was required along with daily prayer, hermit days and having a spiritual director for the journey. There were lists of books to read, materials to study and the last semester of the school was directed to a clinical hands on experience at the center.
Co-Dependence was a series of weekend workshops open to all. The ministers as well as those receiving inner healing ministry attended.
There were ongoing days of reflection, retreats, and groups meeting at the center to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and the Divine Will.
Ancestral Healing Masses were offered and a Liturgy for Children. In fact, all the activities at the center ended in Eucharistic Celebration. While Fr. Jim was in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as stated above, he had arranged for Father Richard Rosette S.J., to stay at the center filling the vacancy of a needed priest. Fr. Rosette was a wonderful presence at St. Joseph's Prayer Center. Sadly, after a few years, Fr. Dick passed away. He was greatly missed.
Fr. Jim returned to the center and he and Sr. Dymphna prayed about having an assistant for Sister Dymphna. Both agreed on inviting one of the lay ministers at the center, Suzanne Reilly. Mrs. Reilly and her husband attended the schools, led the Couples Group while Fr. Jim was away and their 8 children enjoyed the Children’s Liturgy. The Reilly’s first encounter at St. Joseph's Prayer Center was in 1973 when they had gone to receive inner healing. Additionally, Father and Sister were notified during this same time period, the Convent at St. Joseph's church was needed for parish activities.
Within a month Father and Sister found another convent available to rent. St. Joseph's Prayer Center was invited by Pastor Fr. Bruce Powers to rent the unused convent at St. Elizabeth of Hungry Church, Wolf Hill Rd. Melville, New York. Pastor, Father Powers, agreed to rent the building to St. Joseph's Prayer Center. Before we could move, Sister Dymphna fell and injured herself and went to recuperate in Brooklyn, New York at the Sisters of Mercy Mother House. After the move Sister returned to St. Joseph's Prayer Center at Wolf Hill. After almost 2 years Sister needed additional surgery and returned to live at the Mother House in Brooklyn. Sr. offered her availability to continue to pray with others, as well as giving her support to Mrs. Reilly. Sister Mary Dymphna Murray, R.S.M., has gone to her rest. She was the Spiritual Mother of St. Joseph's Prayer Center. Her teachings and prayers will be remembered.
Once again we were told we had to move because the convent was needed for parish use at St. Elizabeth Church. All furniture, books, tapes, papers etc. were placed in storage. The Director, Mrs. Reilly and her Assistant Grace Ianuzzi and Core group of the center continued to meet and pray for discernment. The School for Spiritual Growth & Inner Healing was in its second year when the Pastor of St. Francis of Assisi in Greenlawn, Long Island, New York, invited the school to finish the second year there. Healing Masses were offered at Greenlawn as well.
Nine months had passed and Fr. Jim came to us one day to inform us about an anonymous donor that was offering a large sum of money to purchase a place for St. Joseph's Prayer Center.

The director and assistant found a house at 312 Maple Ave., Patchogue, N.Y. where the center is currently located. There were many dedicated ministers and friends who helped not only in the move but also worked diligently in attaining a non-profit status for St. Joseph's Prayer Center and establishing the Center as a Corporation. A Board of Directors had been established. Fr. James J. Wheeler, S.J. was President; Mrs. Grace Ianuzzi, Vice President and Sister Mary Dymphna Murray R.S.M. were Secretary.
When Mrs. Reilly moved out of state in 2001, Mrs. Ruth Leskowiz took over the position of Director along with Mrs. Grace Ianuzzi. After a couple of years she was followed by Director, Mr. Craig Nurenberg. After him came Mrs. Louise Kramer and currently Mrs. Linda Dudley is Director of St. Joseph's Prayer Center, Patchogue, New York.

The current Board of Directors are:
President,, Jack DeSantis LCWS;
Vice President,, Mrs. Grace Ianuzzi;
Secrewtary & TreasurerJohn Huber
Spiritual AdvisorDeacon Marty McIndoe
Trustee, Geri Huber
Trustee, Carolyn Felten
Prayer Center Director Linda Dudley

Priests who have been essential in helping us with our mission are as follows:

  • Father James Wheeler (deceased)
  • Father James Maltese
  • Father Jim Bukofsky (deceased)
  • Father Gus Fernando
  • Father Joe Whalen
  • Father Bill McCarthy
  • Father Roy Tvrdik

    The Mission of St. Joseph's Prayer Center is to carry people towards our Lord Jesus, helping to remove the obstacles that would impede a true conversion, using diverse programs, courses and personal spiritual direction and inner healing in accordance with the Magisterium of the Church and in conjunction with the office of New Evangelization of the diocese of Rockville Centre.



    The purpose of the School for Spiritual Growth & Inner Healing is to establish Christ as the central relationship in our lives. We commit ourselves to Him in the deepest union, the closest companionship, and deepest service.
    The program helps us to recognize and effectively deal with any blockages, wounded relationships or internal paralysis in our lives so that we may enter into the full gift of ourselves to God and to one another. It allows us to experience the spiritual formation and inner healing necessary on the deepest levels, both psychologically and spiritually for a balanced, strong spiritual development.
    During this course we allow the Lord to form bonds of Christian community at the deepest levels of friendship, mutual support, healing and the strengthening of all areas of the Body of Christ. A firm foundation will be substantiated to those who eventually desire to minister to others as a Spiritual Director.
    The School for Spiritual Growth and Inner Healing is a two-year course, which breaks up into four semesters of 14 weeks each. The meetings are bi-weekly and are usually two hours in duration. During the two weeks between meetings a workbook and CD are provided for study and prayer on a daily basis, which will then be discussed and shared at the following meeting.
    It is suggested that a relationship with Our Lord has already been established before attempting this program. We will meet with you to determine if you feel that you are at a point in your life to begin the School at this time.
    Please pray and reflect to discern if you feel ready to begin this wonderful turning point in your life.


    The School of Spiritual Direction is a two-year program of teaching, sharing, and clinical experience to form Spiritual Directors and Prayer Ministers.
    It is for people who have finished the School for Spiritual Growth & Inner Healing and have felt a calling to minister to others in this capacity.


    Each Thursday we form a group to study and pray for our spiritual needs. For more information in our website  


    The Divine Will Study Group have weekly meetings on Thursday mornings to study the writings of the Servant of God, Luisa Piccarreta, (1885-1947). The Diocese of Trani, Italy is awaiting the judgment of the Vatican on her Beatification.
    Luisa was a mystic who remained in bed for 62 years of her life. We study her writings of 36 volumes that are the fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer to His Father asking that His Kingdom come and Reign on Earth as it is in Heaven. For further information call Don at the prayer center. (631) 730-6210.


    Boundaries and Twelve- Steps Towards Spirituality- by Drs. Cloud & Townsend. Workshops for Co-dependents facilitated by Jim DeMar. Offered in the spring & fall.
    The "Boundaries" workshop consists of an eight hour video and discussion series from Drs. Henry Cloud and John. The series is presented on a Friday evening and following Saturday.
    Topics covered consist of:

  • What is a Boundary?
  • Problems and Symptoms
  • Laws of Boundaries
  • The Myths about Boundaries
  • A course of Recovery
  • Resistances to Boundaries
  • Boundaries and Yard Sticks