It’s been quite a year so far. And while many things about the start of the school year are uncertain or different than usual, the leaves are still changing, the days are still getting shorter, and fall is still on its way. In the midst of all the adjustments and unknowns, it’s the perfect time to connect with God and our loved ones outside, enjoying the change of seasons.
And for St. Francis Solanus parishioners, we have the perfect spot for you to do just that, surrounded by radiant colors and enjoying the crunch of leaves under your feet. Come visit St. Francis Hills!
“The first time I went out there, I thought, ‘Wow, this is a hidden gem!’” says Shane McDermott, an adult leader in our Scout troop, who helps to maintain the grounds. “I never had any idea what the property was like. It’s a very peaceful environment out there, and it’s such a beautiful piece of property.”
St. Francis Hills consists of 60 acres of woods, with some trails for walking or hiking, and an open grassy area. The facilities include a covered picnic area with tables, electricity, and an outdoor chapel. There is also a firepit and archery range available for use.
“It’s kind of like a big campground,” Shane says. “As a parish, we’re very fortunate to have access to it. I’d love to see more people up there. It’s a really neat property.”
Currently, the site is used by our Scout troop for their meetings when the weather is warm enough, as well as camping, awards ceremonies and other activities. The location is also rented out for use by groups for weddings, campouts and other gatherings. Reservations can be made online at a discounted cost for parishioners of $50 per day for the first day, and $10 for each additional day. The fees are used to help to pay for utilities and maintenance of the land.
“If somebody wants to go up there and go for a walk or have a picnic, we don’t charge for stuff like that,” Shane says. “If somebody’s out there, we just want to know.”
With no cell phone service at the site, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy quiet time alone with God, or connecting with loved ones.
“If you live in Quincy, it’s a 10-minute drive to go up there,” Shane says. “It’s like you’re in a whole different world. It’s really quiet and peaceful.
“It’s away from the city,” he adds. “You’re getting into that peaceful environment, but you’re not very far away. It’s nice to have a place you can go and just unwind.”
Shane hopes that his fellow parishioners will take the time to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation at St. Francis Hills, whether for a quiet hike, a picnic with family, or a special event.
“You can do something as simple as bringing a picnic out there, and when it gets dark, have a fire and roast marshmallows,” Shane says. “It’s something that could be very simple, doesn’t cost a lot of money — just go up and unwind for a couple hours.
“We want people to use it,” he adds. “That’s what it’s there for.”
For more info, or to reserve St. Francis Hills for your family or event, please contact Shane McDermott at [email protected] or 217-242-1125. For online reservations, go to www.scouting22.com/saint-francis-hills-reservation-request. The reservation fee is not necessary for parishioners who would like to hike or picnic at the site for a short period of time. However, people are asked to call Shane prior to their arrival, to ensure safety and no prior event conflicts.