Fifty years ago, a Sri Sathya Sai Baba Center was established in St. Louis. To those who were there to witness the beginning of the Sai Center, it was the unfolding of a miracle.

The story began with a young man receiving a Sri Sathya Sai Baba pin from a hitchhiker he gave a ride to. The next morning, his mother shared a dream she had of a man with thick black hair and an orange robe who had told her he was taking her son somewhere and that her son would return a better person. When the young man showed his mother the pin, she was shocked to see it was the same man in her dream. The story of the gifting of the pin and the dream was shared with family and friends. The hitchhiker returned, this time with a suitcase full of Sathya Sai Baba photos, books and Vibhuti to share with all.

Shortly thereafter, the city known as the Gateway to the West became the Gateway to the East for a small group of young adults of Christian heritage. They eagerly went on a pilgrimage in 1971 to Puttaparthi, yearning to meet the Divine Master Himself. On their return, they held Sai group meetings, and eventually, a Sai Center was established in 1973. It continued to be a gateway to all who heard and beckoned the call of our Sai Mata.  Swami’s love grew and expanded through various centers, which finally merged with the His grace into the Sri Sathya Sai Baba Centers of Greater St. Louis.

The Golden Jubilee Celebration took place on September 16 2023 in the form of a day-long retreat. The morning began with an uplifting devotional program, followed by an inspiring talk by Dr. William Havey, member of the Prashanti Council. He delighted the attendees with wonderful stories of his first trip to Parthi. He was followed by various representatives from each decade who described the highlights of each time period.

The lively walk down memory lane was accompanied with various video clips, a report on the activities of the 3 wings of devotion, education (Bal Vikas/SSE) and service, and a recounting of the transition of the centers to the stand-alone building where it resides today. And finally, and most importantly, members shared how their lives have been transformed by Swami’s love and the vital role the Center played in their spiritual lives. Sai devotees heard of the inspiring efforts of the Sri Sathya Sai Education in Human Values program in the community, as well as Sai Medical Camps that provide free healthcare to low-income communities.

The day concluded with a presentation and devotional singing by current Young Adults (YAs).  The Center was started by young adults, and YAs continue to be the future of the Sai Organization. They will carry on Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s message of Brotherhood of Man and Fatherhood of God, the goal of self-transformation and the awareness of divinity within.  As Swami stated in the mother’s dream, He has taken us on a journey and we have been changed for the better.  His love and teachings have helped us move away from body identification to Atma identification and to realize that we are all One.

 A senior devotee who joined the center in the 1970’s shared, “the celebration brought back so many wonderful memories.  It was so refreshing to remember the stories of how Swami started the center and to relive and reflect on His blessings. It helped me to see how the center supported us on our spiritual journey through reinforcing His love and teachings. It is His grace to our families that the center has a 50-year history.”

One of the devotees reflected, “Being part of the Golden Jubilee Celebration of our Sai Center filled me with immense gratitude. Where else could we have learned His teachings so we could try to live them outside the center in our daily lives?  I am grateful for those who started the first center here and then those who lovingly carried the torch forward to so many more. And this relay is not over; we must have this resource there for many more.  Here we have the opportunity to walk both the devotional and service paths so we can experience Him and truly see God in everyone. The past years has taught us that beyond the physical form of Baba, it is His teachings that we must remember.”