By Fr Jim Kent, Director – Franciscan Retreats and Spirituality Center in Prior Lake, MN
As some of you are aware, I was briefly assigned to Franciscan Retreats and Spirituality Center in 2007. In fact, I was officially the retreat director for the month of October before I had to resign to serve as our Minister Provincial. Upon my return here in late August 2019, I was amazed at all the improvements that had been made. I had visited here every one of those intervening years, but to spend extended time allowed me to better appreciate those improvements. They include chapel chairs, wall mounted desks, sinks/vanities, new dividers in the rooms, carpeting, Marian Lounge restoration, and the canopy between the buildings.
Since returning two years ago, we have added elements to ensure the health and well being of the retreatants and staff: electronic doors, air purifiers, new steam and refrigerated serving tables with sneeze-guards. And a gazebo. Br. Bob Roddy deserves a lot of credit for seeking these improvements, as do you for generously responding to those needs. Many of these additions were funded from the Annual Christmas Appeal, which has proven indispensable to making Franciscan Retreats such a comfortable, beautiful, hygienic place. While last year’s appeal was for operating expenses incurred while most retreats were canceled due to the pandemic, this year’s Appeal asks for some household items.
First, the housekeepers are in need of new vacuum cleaners. The current ones are in constant repair and seem to choke and struggle along. We also need to upgrade a refrigerator in Judy’s Kitchen. It’s been limping along and requires a new compressor and other parts. Finally, nineteen shower handles need to be replaced in the St Francis and St. Clare Wings. They are still the originals from 1966! Retreatants comment they can be very difficult to turn and the grooved knobs cut into their hands. Over the years a few have been replaced, but they are expensive. Parts and labor put it at $700.00 per shower handle. That means the total of the three needs is $20,350.
As one who has never owned a home, I am often shocked at the cost of maintenance. I have, however, lived in larger institutional buildings where the expense of repairs and upgrades are matched by the size of the facility. It seems the only way to stay on top of these needs is to be vigilant and maintain things year-to-year.
Retreatants often say how clean and cozy the retreat center is and how beautiful the grounds. That comes from a willingness to be good stewards of this sacred place. This means that we are often making improvements so to keep it in tiptop shape. FRSC could in no way do that without you. Your donations to the Annual Christmas Appeal have been a testimony to making Franciscan Retreats a vibrant site on holy ground. Thank you for keeping it so.