We began this ceremony with a reading from Sacred Scripture and a prayer because our first priority is to give glory and praise to God for blessing us with this magnificent Retreat Centre.
The beauty of this property, acres of woodland, bounded by the Hope River, an elevated locale with a quiet field of twelve acres gently sloping toward the ocean shore and beyond, a heavenly horizon, — all this, conveys the goodness and beauty of God’s Creation and elicits our heartfelt response of joy and gratitude. Here, in this place, the inherent beauty of God’s creation impels us to pray, to reflect, and give thanks to God for this gift, Our Lady of Hope Retreat Centre.
This Official Opening concludes a rather long and arduous journey for many labourers in the Lord’s Vineyard. I wish to extend to all of them my deepest thanks.
Architect Bill Chandler stuck with his task despite constraints forcing him to change and adapt his initial design. Mac Lean’s Construction and staff such as Mike McQuaid worked dutifully for months to bring construction to a conclusion on time and on budget.
There are many people who served diligently and faithfully on numerous committees to help, make this day possible. The members of the Building Committee — your persistence and wisdom are most appreciated; the Advisory Committee too — has been so helpful in guiding Diocesan decisions about the purpose and function of this new Retreat Centre so that it might serve the needs of the people.
Mr. Tony Hansen volunteered to serve on as site inspector on behalf of the Diocese. His contribution was very time consuming, critically helpful and very successful. I am deeply grateful to Tony.
Earla and Martin Avery are the backbone of operations at Our Lady of Hope Retreat Centre. Despite the hard work of running this Centre, your devotion and joy makes everyone feel so welcome and so comfortable. Your love and kindness makes everyone feel welcome. Thank you
The five acre wood lot out back now has a walking trail named, RAY’s WAY. Thanks to the toil and sweat of those Knights of Columbus from Rustico who blazed the trail for us. Not only can we enjoy the shade of the trees but we can also see a splendid view of the Hope River. Thank you Knights of Columbus.
Fr. Eric Dunn, along with the numerous committees on which he served, assumed responsibility for all sorts of unexpected developments, loose ends, and troubling surprises that always happen on a project such as this. For your tireless efforts, Fr. Eric I thank you.
To all priests in the Diocese, I am most grateful for the solidarity of your moral support in the planning and building of Our Lady of Hope. In particular I wish to mention Father Art Pendergast who boldly defended the idea of a Retreat Centre when so many had doubted the wisdom of the idea. Also, Father Art O’Shea who took the initiative to write an open letter asking for someone to step forward and offer property for a Diocesan Retreat House. Without your action Fr. Art, we wouldn’t be here today.
The herculean efforts of so many people that I have been thanking, all began with the generosity of one man, Mr. Owen Kelly. He asked the Diocese to dedicate his bequest to a retreat centre and Catholic education. The enormity of his generosity has financed not only the construction but also the ongoing operation of Our Lady of Hope Retreat Centre.
Finally, Fran Sark, we are grateful for your generosity in donating this land to the Diocese. What makes your donation so poignant is your own personal conviction that this is a place of God’s own peace and serenity. Everyone here today has been able to have a taste of this special place and been able to share in your conviction. For many years, generations will be able to enter this environment and sense the presence of God.
To Fran Sark and the members of Owen Kelly’s family, today my words of gratitude feel so inadequate, but I assure you for years to come many thousands will know of your selfless contribution in helping people on their spiritual journey to God.
Finally, it is delightful to see so many of you who have accepted the invitation to visit Our Lady of Hope today. Thank you for coming and I hope you have time to explore the Centre and its Property Thank you all.
Bishop Grecco then introduced Matthew Jelly:
Chairman of Cavendish Municipality, Matthew Jelly: The Municipality of Cavendish received our application to build here in Bayview with openness and fairness and the Diocese is most grateful. And now I am happy to introduce the Chairman of Cavendish Municipality, Matthew Jelly.
Bishop Grecco explained that Chief Brian Francis was at the Pow Wow at Scotchfort First Nation and unfortunately could not attend this afternoon These were the Bishops prepared words of introduction for Chief Francis:
Chief Brian Francis: The large statue of Saint Kateri Tekawitha in the foyer of the Retreat Center is a gift of Fran Sark, as a reminder of native spirituality and her Christian witness. Chief Membertou of the Mi’qma from this region, was baptized more than 400 years ago. Chief Brian Francis we are honored that you have come to bring greetings.
Bishop Grecco then introduced the Papal Nuncio to Canada Arch-Bishop Luigi Bonazzi:
Luigi Bonazzi: I wish to thank the Nuncio, the Most Reverend Luigi Bonazzi for joining us today. He is not only the Ambassador of the Vatican State to Canada but also, he is the representative of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, to the Catholic Church in Canada. Your grace we welcome you warmly: First, we are honoured that His Holiness is represented through you as we open Our Lady of Hope Retreat Centre; Second, Prince Edward Island is known as the Cradle of Confederation and so we are privileged as Canadians that you, the Vatican Ambassador are visiting us on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of our beloved Country, Canada. Dear friends, let us welcome our Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi.