In the The Peace House, “Casa de Paz” in Chacraseca, Nicaragua is a dream of Sister Joan Uhlen who visualized a “rocking chair ministry,” and a reality which she says “provides us with a sacred space, where our feet touch the Earth and our hearts touch the Stars – and we remember who we are, where we come from and to whom we shall return.
Joan united all her friends to fulfill the Peace House dream: six hundred farmers from Chacraseca, as well as others who gave voluntary labor, and more than a hundred from around the world who contributed financially. Fourteen rocking chairs grace the Retreat House facing its Peace Plaza, with retreatants continuous since its inauguration in May, 2000. A Meditation Forest and Fruit Garden were planted and a chapel and labyrinth built. Creating a space for Peace after years of suffering and war.
Sister Joan’s creativity has marked all her ministries. She joined Maryknoll in 1942 from St. Louis, MO and was assigned to Hawaii in 1948 where for ten years she taught grade and high school, was principal and learned the ukulele which she still plays. In 1970 she studied Spanish in Mexico and spent a year in Mérida, Yucatán working with Rogers Hall students in art, films and multimedia. Her work in Nicaragua began in Condega with parish and diocesan teams, women’s courses, economic development projects and pastoral work. Her pastoral work continued in Ocotal and Leon. Living in Pueblo Nuevo, Estelí, she served a term as full time Regional Coordinator for the Panama/Nicaragua/El Salvador Region. Reluctantly in 2008, Sister Joan left her beloved Nicaragua and the Peace House and became a member of the Eden Community in Maryknoll, NY.