OMI Lacombe Canada Province, outlines new chapter for retreat ministry


OMI Lacombe Canada Province, outlines new chapter for retreat ministry

OTTAWA, September 7, 2023 – Yesterday, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, OMI Lacombe Canada Province leadership announced the difficult decision to close two of the Province’s retreat centres: Queen’s House Retreat and Renewal Centre (Saskatoon, SK) and Galilee Mission Centre of Arnprior (Arnprior, ON). A third centre, Star of the North Retreat Centre, (St. Albert, AB) will remain open.

The decision follows a period of discernment, and arises, in part, from the Province’s recent strategic plan, Forward Together. A clear outcome from that 2020 process was the need for ongoing discernment of OMI Lacombe Canada ministries, with Provincial Council focusing on retreat house ministry in 2023.

Provincial Council visited and consulted with key stakeholders and studied the reports from each of the three retreat centres. Through this process, it was determined that Star of the North offers the best opportunity to continue and develop retreat ministry within OMI Lacombe Canada, while preserving capacity to fulfill present and future commitments to other ministries.

Star of the North is located in St. Albert, AB, near an active community of Oblates and Oblate Associates. It has growing relationships with the four parishes served by the Oblates in the Edmonton Archdiocese. The Archdiocese of Edmonton is a centre of Indigenous ministries for OMI Lacombe Canada, and home to one of the largest urban Indigenous populations in Canada, an important area of focus for the Province.

“I want to express our gratitude to the many, deeply committed people who have contributed to Galilee Centre and Queen’s House over the years for their meaningful commitment to these sacred spaces,” said Fr. Ken Thorson, Provincial, OMI Lacombe Canada. “I recognize that this is a painful decision for many, and one that has been difficult for our entire council. There are many people who leave legacies that we intend to honour and celebrate, and we are committed to treating staff with the utmost respect as they conclude their work.”

“I also want to emphasize that these decisions were made with close attention to the evolving needs of the Province, Congregation, and the people we serve. We have to let go of some things in order to say yes to others, including a call from the 37th Oblate General Chapter for an equitable distribution of Oblate finances and personnel to ensure the provision of a balanced formation for young Oblates throughout the congregation. We also foresee continuing costs related to our efforts towards truth and reconciliation in response to our historical involvement in residential schools.”

This decision was made in the context of several challenges for retreat house ministries, including declining financial independence, increasing operating and maintenance costs and diminished regular Oblate presence. The Oblate Provincial Council wishes to thank its community for their understanding, prayers and dedication to the Oblate mission.

More information regarding timelines and how Provincial Council sees the transition unfolding will be available in the coming weeks.