By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News
After 65 years providing spiritual renewal, retreats, and programs in Saskatoon, Queen’s House Retreat and Renewal Centre is closing.
The decision by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate to close the retreat house in Saskatoon was announced by Queen’s House advisory board Chair Adele Longstaff and Executive Director Brendan Bitz in a message to Catholic partners in the community Sept. 8.
Although details remain to be worked out, Queen’s House – which opened in 1958 on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River at 601 Taylor Street West in Saskatoon – is expected to close in July 2024.
“This decision has been made by the religious community who owns this centre, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate,” wrote Longstaff and Bitz. “The Oblates are at a time when they are needing to consolidate their ministry, and this will be done at our sister retreat centre: Star of the North in St. Albert, Alberta.”
They expressed regret and sorrow at the unexpected news. “Many of us will be experiencing profound grief in the coming days as we allow this news to settle within us. Queen’s House is a beloved, sacred space in the heart of Saskatoon, and through the virtual medium of Zoom, our community now reaches around the world.”
Longstaff and Bitz said that OMI Lacombe Canada Provincial Council made the decision to close the Saskatoon retreat house after a significant period of information-gathering. “This process included input from retreat centre leadership and the membership of OMI Lacombe Canada. Among other factors, the Provincial Council considered its ministerial commitments in Canada and beyond, their declining membership, aging personnel, and financial resources.”
“The Oblates indicated that it was not an easy decision to make; the Oblates expressed an understanding that it will deeply impact staff, volunteers, and faithful supporters,” wrote Longstaff and Bitz.
They noted that in the meantime, Queen’s House will continue to operate, proceeding with the next nine months of retreats and workshops.
This includes hosting a Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan convention Oct. 26-27, and a 20th anniversary annual Gala dinner to be held Thursday, Nov. 23 “in which we will gather to give thanks,” and “other very important gatherings planned in the coming months by many groups who gratefully rent our facility because they deeply value the holy ground of Queen’s House.” Queen’s House is also still committed to offering Growing in Wisdom: Seeking Deeper Generativity online beginning in February 2024, and ending in late 2025, thanks to that program being offered solely on Zoom.
The message concluded with a request for prayers – for Queen’s House staff, volunteers and board members – as well as for the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and their Lay Associates.
Kiply Lukan Yaworski is the communications coordinator for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon – rcdos.ca