It was late in December of 2019 when I came with Fadi Sarraf to visit Copper Ridge. At that time, the project was in the late stages of completion and with activities already planned, the first of which was scheduled for mid-February of 2020. After a tour of the building, he offered me the opportunity to take care of the day-to-day operations and maintenance of the Conference Centre.
Even though I was not involved in the project, I was already very familiar with the area which together with some friends, including Fr Joseph Soria, we used to explore regularly from the time the property was bought in 2007. I was very lucky to spend many moments admiring the view that is the delight of everyone who sees it. Therefore, realizing that the project was now a reality, I accepted Fadi’s offer which for me was like “The Call of Copper Ridge”.
Some time ago, I came across a book with stories that narrate the reasons why people go to the mountains. In one of these stories, the author describes the experience an excursion group had on a sunny day after ascending a high mountain in the Pyrenees. They were all overwhelmed by the breathtaking beauty of the panorama. In the “summit book,” where mountaineers write their reflections upon reaching the top of the mountain, one of the members of this group stamped a phrase that reflected everyone’s feelings: “Admire the created, and praise the Creator.” That is the same feeling one has at Copper Ridge. The joy of contemplating this stupendous beauty leads us immediately to think of God.
The phrase “Admire the created, and praise the Creator” got me thinking a lot during this year while fulfilling all my day-to-day responsibilities at Copper Ridge. It has somehow consolidated the natural and supernatural outlook that can be applied to life. It has helped me grow in human virtues, as well as improve my relationship with God. At times, seeing a starry night, the winter twilight, the awaking of spring, the summer flowers, the seasonal habitat of birds, bears, deer, and other species, that phrase has led me to an authentic enchantment. Other times, especially during the global pandemic, it has helped me deal, with peace and joy, the work that is required to maintain all aspects of the conference centre (mechanical, electrical, security, plumbing, fire protection, elevators, kitchen, roofing, landscaping, the septic system, etc.) necessary to meet the expectations of the Administration team.
We have had many visitors at Copper Ridge, but a recent one was particularly noteworthy. Fr. Antoine de Rochebrune, the newly appointed regional vicar of Opus Dei in Canada, visited Vancouver for the first time in March and I had the privilege of meeting him in person at the conference centre. He celebrated Mass in the oratory, and I received, for the first time in months, the Holy Eucharist. Looking back on a year during which the pandemic has prevented most of the Catholic world from participating in person in the Eucharistic celebration, he stressed that this is something that we will remember all our lives, and which will help us realize how important this sacrament is in our Christian vocation. Fr. Antoine mentioned that Copper Ridge needs to be more than ever a place of conversion. He encouraged us to meet, and through our personal apostolate in continuation of the apostolate of Christ, to bring many people to this beautiful location.