Jenepher Stowell

Director, Retreat Center

Jenepher is director of the Retreat Center at Commonweal and serves on the senior staff of the Commonweal Cancer Help Program. She conducts the pre- and post-program interviews with CHP participants, and also teaches a session on the importance of sacred space and healing environments on our capacity for healing and recovery from illness. She has lived and worked at Commonweal since 1987 and still finds her work at Commonweal to be as meaningful and rewarding today as it was when she started, if not more so.

Jenepher also has a lifelong interest in the intersection of spirituality, the natural world, human health, and the health of the planet. Commonweal’s beautiful place in nature, and it’s original mission to work toward both personal and planetary healing, felt like a natural home.

In 1985, after volunteering on an early CHP program, she came upon a small, ramshackle hut while walking on the bluffs overlooking the ocean at the edge of CW’s property. The structure seemed to call for becoming a way station of some kind between this world and the next, a small meditation hut, or place of prayer and remembrance. Much in need of repair and renovation, she spent the following year driving from San Francisco to Bolinas on Sundays to renovate the building.

This project, and the tending of the space over time, has been the cornerstone of her work at Commonweal for the last 28 years, and continuing. She sees this space, now affectionately called “The Chapel,” as a small, modest metaphor for the way some special places, or sacred spaces, within ourselves and in the world, can help us connect with the divine in life, by whatever name we choose to call it. Perhaps also helping us to find healing, a sense of greater wholeness in life and a connection to our place in the universe.

Jenepher is also drawn to the red rock high desert beauty of the Four Corners Region in the Southwest. She is a conservationist, with an interest in protected land in southeast Utah and in archeology and ancient cultures. She serves on the board of the Southwest Heritage Foundation, a non-profit focused on archeological preservation and education, and is also a board member of the Bluff Historic Preservation Association, with a mission to preserve the cultural and ecological integrity of Bluff, Utah, and it’s surrounding landscape.

In addition, she is a founding board member of The Regeneration Project, an interfaith ministry devoted to deepening the connection between ecology and faith.