The multiplier effect of a retreat is startling. A major effect of a retreat is an increased appreciation for friendship and the need to be a better, more loyal friend. St. Josemaria stresses this in Furrow:
You cannot just be passive. You have to become a real friend of your friends. You can help them first with the example of your behaviour and then with your advice and with the influence that a close friendship provides. Furrow 731
Copper Ridge will be life-altering precisely because its activities will transform the vision of one’s life. We all have the tendency to think only of our own small “backyard,” so to speak: our daily routine, the challenges and difficulties we are facing, and the numbing rhythm of life. Three days in silence and contemplation at Copper Ridge will change all that. People will emerge refreshed and renewed, with a youthful zest for life and the desire to reach out to everyone around them.
I can’t resist quoting another point from Furrow that captures this vision eloquently:
You understood the meaning of friendship when you began to feel that you were like the shepherd of a little flock which you had left abandoned, but were now trying to gather together again, taking it upon yourself to serve each one of them. Furrow 730
Speaking about the multiplier effect of a retreat, the example par excellence are the retreats that Jesus conducted off in a quiet place with his twelve apostles. Just as they were inspired to go out into the whole world to spread the Good News, so will we after our retreats with Jesus at Copper Ridge.
Msgr. Frederick Dolan, Vicar of Opus Dei in Canada, was asked to explain the surge in spiritual and apostolic activity that occurs once a conference centre gets established in a new area. His answer follows.
Whenever we start apostolic activities in a new country, a top priority is to establish a conference centre. Until then, the apostolate hobbles, so to speak. Formation takes time and requires the proper setting. A conference centre provides all the necessary ingredients for the formation to work its full impact. The talks, classes and meditations are obviously important, but so is the beauty of the oratory, the homey atmosphere of the house, and so forth. And no words can capture the importance of the work of the staff, whose care for the cleanliness of the centre and the elegance of the meals brings to mind the Lord’s favourite destination in Bethany, the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus.
A retreat brings us to a screeching halt and makes it possible to take a deep look at the most important elements of our life. Without that pause to focus, it is all too easy to go month after month and even year after year without a clear vision of the important things in life.
St. Josemaria puts his finger in the wound when he writes “Hurrying, hurrying! Working, working! Feverish activity, anxiety to be up and doing.” Later in that same point of The Way he prescribes the remedy: “Calmness. Peace. Intense life within you. Without that wild hurry, without that frenzy for change, you can work from your proper place in life. And, like a powerful generator of spiritual electricity, you will give light and energy to very many, without losing your own vigour and light.” The Way, no. 837.
Someone making a retreat for the first time in many years often comes to the jarring conclusion that they had been ignoring key roles in their life. It only takes a few days of silence and reflection to “reboot” and renew our focus. As a result, we can go about life “giving to each moment the dynamic echo of eternity”, as St. Josemaria liked to put it.
Through your generosity and sacrifices, Copper Ridge Conference Centre has become an even more tangible reality this year. We wish to express our sincere gratitude to everyone who has helped this important project move forward with your prayers, your great financial generosity and the ingenuity of all the fund raising campaigns.
From the smallest child’s gift, to the extraordinary contributions of our major donors, to the stream of prayers rising up to heaven, we give thanks.
This month we are posting photos that will bring back to mind a few of the notable stories of the campaign.
We wish you and your families many blessings this Christmas.
Have you seen how that imposing building was built? One brick upon another. Thousands. But, one by one. And bags of cement, one by one. And blocks of stone, each of them insignificant compared with the massive whole. And beams of steel. And men working, the same hours, day after day…
Have you seen how that imposing building was built?… By dint of little things!
St. Josemaria Escriva (The Way 823)
There is one room at the Conference Centre that has a dedicated team of designers creating an aesthetic fit for a King. Can you guess who will live there?
The annual Chinese dinner in support of CRCC was a great success. Over 250 participants enjoyed a ten course gourmet meal at the Victoria Chinese Restaurant in downtown Vancouver. Though there were so many of us, it felt just like a family gathering – lots of fun and friendship. A lucky couple won the bid for two trips to the Holy Land. Before the auction, Mr. and Mrs. Boyd described the Holy Land in all its wonder and beauty. A special feature of this year’s dinner was that of the young people who moved from table to table to tell us of their own experiences of the practical and spiritual help and encouragement they receive from attending activities similar to those that will take place at Copper Ridge. One of the attendees won the draw to attend a retreat when the new Conference Centre is ready to welcome us. We all left feeling grateful to be part of this legacy project. Over $35,000 was raised! We extend a big “thank you” to everyone who supported us either by attending the event, by donating items for the auction, and especially to the volunteers whose hard work to make the evening such a success added a special warmth to the event.
The following is an interview with Peter Stocker, one of the first men in Western Canada to discover his vocation to Opus Dei.
How did you come into contact with Opus Dei?
In 1989 I was a fairly new convert to the Catholic Church and was researching the faith in a Catholic bookstore. I just happened to open a book titled In Conversation with God and found a card that had been left there for anyone who was interested in information about Opus Dei. I phoned the number on the card and met Marvi Naval, the first Philippino male supernumerary to come to Vancouver. I soon started attending Recollections with my friend Steve Pearse and shortly after that discovered my vocation as a supernumerary member of Opus Dei.
What appealed to you about Opus Dei?
I was immediately impressed that here was a group of men who had committed themselves to a structured life of pious practices such as daily Mass and prayer as well as weekly confession, and at the same time were regular guys living in the world. I found new friends, and was impressed by the happiness and joy of all these men. I loved how the knowledge of the faith could be applied to me and to my life.
What is the most important thing you have got out of your vocation to Opus Dei?
The biggest thing is that I know and experience that God is my Father. He is there in the midst of suffering and joy, in all the ordinary circumstances of my life. The Work gives me the means to live the presence of God, always a challenging and joyful undertaking.
What value do you think Copper Ridge Conference Centre will have for the Work in Western Canada?
I know that having a conference centre will intensify the value that the Work has already had for those associated with it here. Having members of the Work running our own facility will enable us to create the unique family atmosphere which is characteristic of Opus Dei. This is impossible in facilities that are operated by other organizations, even if they are very well run. People will have the experience of how transformative even one retreat at their own conference centre is. Over the years, we, our children and our grandchildren will be able to benefit from many activities in addition to retreats such as service projects, parenting classes and professional ethics seminars.
Any other things you would like to say about the formation provided by Opus Dei, the spirit of Opus Dei, etc.
The Work offers the means to live the presence of God in one’s life. One has the experience of a tremendous growth of freedom and of new horizons that are opened by the spiritual direction that Opus Dei provides.
Join us for our annual CRCC Dinner, Sunday October 21st at Victoria Chinese Restaurant. Live auction includes 2 trips to the Holy Land. Silent auction includes Canucks tickets for 4, Dublin Crossing restaurant gift certificates, and other restaurant and event tickets. Register online at https://copperridgeconferencecentre.ca/dinner-2018/
Gray skies could not dampen the enthusiasm of the 250 people who attended the annual CRCC Thanksgiving Mass this year. With the mountains rising in the background and looking out through the trees to the waters of Howe Sound, it could not have been a more perfect setting for prayerful reflection on the dream of Copper Ridge Conference Centre.
A beautiful statue of Our Lady of Fair Love, adorned with flowers, had been placed beside the altar. Many people took their pictures in front of the statue which has now been donated to our future Conference Centre.
We were fortunate to have Mr. Mark Donnelly and his family as the choir. Many of the prayers of the Mass were sung in Latin, along with sacred hymns that added an ethereal quality to the beauty of the liturgy.
Msgr. Fred Dolan, Vicar of Opus Dei in Canada, emphasized how much this project will help families for generations to come. He told an anecdote of a little handicapped boy who was taken to Lourdes by his parents to pray for a cure. The youngster asked Our Lord to cure him, insisting several times, and then told Jesus, “If you don’t listen to me, I will tell your Mother.” The boy was cured at that moment and everyone who was there saw him get out of his wheelchair. Fr. Fred told us that we should do the same; go to Our Lady and ask her for help to complete the CRCC project.
Those attending were awestruck by the tremendous progress made thus far. Pictures do not do justice to what is being accomplished on the site. Our sincere thanks to all those who are bringing this project to completion; together we are completing the dream.