Gratefully, Sister Teresita Kambeitz, OSU, Saskatoon
Bethlehem Retreat Centre was a haven of peace for me during the few days I spent there in February, 2010. Having come from many busy weeks in cold and snowy Saskatoon, it was blessing-filled and soul-nurturing experience to bask in its beautiful setting near the lake and forest. In addition to appreciating the quiet time for prayer and contemplation, I appreciated the warm hospitality of the Benedictine Sisters. For me, the Bethlehem Retreat Centre was a taste of heaven.
submitted by Joanne Mawhinney
My late husband, Lock Mawhinney and I have been going to retreats since the Center opened. We have attended all Faith and sharing retreats, in fact, 3 generations , my daughters and their children have attended these retreats. What a Grace to attend a week long retreat with your children and grandchildren! The kids will not miss it, even if we are too tired and say we might not go, they protest!
Two of my children have intellectual disabilities, they have always been with us, it is the high lite of their year. Great healing and community forming are fruits of this retreat. L’ Arche Comox Valley joins us on this retreat, all are welcome!
I personally have done many silent retreats at Bethlehem, Ignatian, Benedictine, Franciscan you name it , it has happened here. One of my favorite workshop retreat was iconographic, I learned to “pray” with icons while painting one…I have great joy in remembering my spiritual journey at Bethlehem…I will support the effort to save it and tell as many of my friends as possible to help.
Submitted by Daria McLean
I attended a week long contemplative retreat at Bethlehem Retreat Centre at the invitation of a friend in 2013. Since I live in Winnipeg and could fly directly into Nanaimo, it peaked my interest that it was being offered on an island ideal for walking, in a setting with rolling hills, white peaked mountains, a man-made lake and towering trees. The centre and surrounding area proved ideal for reflecting, reading, relaxing, walking, and provided me personal renewal. The experience allowed me to feel deeply serene and touched each of my senses as well as my mind, body and spirit. I truly recommend a retreat in this natural paradise for anyone seeking prayer and reflection.
Submitted by Barbara Friesen
I have had the opportunity to have been a retreatant at Bethlehem Retreat Centre in the past and was looking forward to my next visit. The tranquil setting and wonderful walking paths , just out the door, are comparable to none. Coming from the hectic city of Calgary , the retreat centre served as an oasis for my soul. Last visit i brought a friend from Manitoba and have been actively seeking out friends from Calgary to accompany me next visit. I am hoping the centre will be available to us in the future.
Submitted by Janet Lironi
Bethlehem Retreat Centre has been integral to my spiritual unfolding. I have been attending silent mediation retreats in the Theravadan Buddhist tradition at Bethlehem for more than 15 years. These are retreats are put on by British Columbia Insight Meditation Society under the guidance and teaching of Adrianne Ross and other very gifted teachers. For the past 7 years I have also had the honour of managing some of the retreats.
Bethlehem Retreat Centre is Sacred Space with such heart. The deep forest, ancient trees, clear waters, and the Chapel provide Home- a safe, container for deep abiding and coming into presence. Even though it is so close to the city, it allows a magical quality of feeling one is in deep nature. Here we can step out of the chaos, confusion, stress, and fear for the world, and feel that interconnection with all life- no longer separate but part of the beauty of love.
The first meditation retreat I attended, a women’s retreat with Arinna Weisman and Adrianne Ross, was profound. I was very ill, so I often meditated lying down in the Chapel or on my bed. Time was spent in the gentle care of the teachers’ and Bethlehem’s container, listening to and absorbing the loving wisdom. Being with my breath in my body on small walks among the trees and by the still lake waters, I began to companion myself. This taking time for myself, away from the constant caring for others allowed me time to come back to myself and deepen my connection with the earth. It was so nourishing- so began a journey of deep healing.
And the journey has continued with Bethlehem, often as a manager of retreats. It is always revitalizing, energizing and ennobling. It allowed me a lovely connection with Sister Mary Ann and all the amazing supportive staff. I feel privileged and honoured to be part of making it all happen and to help continue the love and presence.
My wish is that Bethlehem will prevail!!! I would like to think that we are not saving this amazing Centre just for us or humanity but for all life, for the trees and the waters, the earth itself. This is sacred nature and belongs to all.
Wendell Berry puts my feelings about BRC into such beautiful poem.
The Peace of the Wild Things:
When despair for the world grows in me
And I wake in the night at the least sound
In fear for what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
Who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.