First Ever Ecumenical Staff Retreat

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by Frank Flegel

The fall colors of the Moose Jaw River Valley below the Wood Acres Retreat Centre highlighted the Centre as a fit setting for the first ever ecumenical retreat that brought together staff from the Regina Roman Catholic Archdiocese and the Anglican Diocese of Qu’Appelle.

The idea for the retreat came out of a discussion between two bishops, Archbishop Donald Bolen of the Regina Roman Catholic Archdiocese and Anglican Qu’Appelle Diocese Bishop Robert Hardwick about more things they could do together. Both said staff in their offices have similar ministries and the discussion centered on what could be done together. Out of that came the suggestion for the joint retreat.

The retreat was organized with staff from both diocese, Archdeacon Catherine Harper from the Qu’Appelle Diocese and Susan Klein from the Regina Archdiocese. Archdeacon Catherine Harper led the retreat with its titled two themes: Renovation of the Heart and Rule of Life.

Archbishop Bolen and Bishop Hardwick welcomed everyone.It’s a joy to be here, a beautiful day to be together and an excellent example of what we can do together,” said Bolen. “We’ve all been blessed in many years,” said Hardwick. “We have an amazing God who calls us to an amazing ministry.”

Archdiocesan Pastoral Services Assistant and Assistant Coordinator for Youth Ministry Braden Kuntz played his guitar and led the group in three opening hymns with lyrics projected onto a white wall in the Centre’s main gathering area. Several people were called for Bible readings which were followed by table group discussions. Several people, at the invitation of Archdeacon Harper, came forward to talk about their faith journey and the table groups were asked to do the same. As usual when individuals are asked to discuss personal life experiences, there was some shyness but the room soon filled with animated conversations from the table groups.

Following lunch, a template for creating a lifeline/spiritual journey was given to everyone with Harper explaining how to go about it. They were to take it with them when they leave the retreat. She explained in an interview with the Prairie Messenger that the rule of life is like a living document, “we change it depending on our circumstances so that we can grow in Christ’s likeness and through prayer and worship and the reading of Scripture and acts of service and submission to God and to others and humility, and as we practice these disciplines, we will grow more in the nature of Jesus Christ and our hearts will change, that change from the inside will manifest itself in transformed lives.”

Both bishops were pleased with the results of the day with Hardwick expressing the possibility of it becoming an annual or even a bi-annual exercise.

Archbishop Bolen called it an exceptionally fine day. “Each one of us has been encouraged to deepen our faith and we’ve grown in a relationship in the process of that. It’s been a wonderful day.”

Bishop Hardwick said it was an opportunity for staff in both offices to come to be with one another, to worship together, to be encouraged together. “It’s my hope that from this day we can go forward with a greater sense that we are becoming one in the Kingdom; that Jesus’ prayer that all may be one will be fulfilled in us in the time that God calls us to.”