My first experience at The Martha Retreat Centre was while I worked at the YWCA. I learned about OASIS Days and began joining as I could. Helping other people through my work roles has always been important to me, thus recognizing that I needed to take time to fill my cup so that I could effectively serve people. My involvement at the Centre grew by attending weekend retreats, book clubs and week-long retreats. These opportunities kept me nourished. As I developed my relationships with the Sisters, they engaged me in a few volunteer opportunities to assist them with their work. Connecting people to community through volunteerism is something that I value and enjoy. Through Volunteer Lethbridge, I
offered my support to develop a Volunteer Management program for the Centre. My passion of service to God by serving other people brings me excitement as I pursue the opportunities ahead for our community and for Western Canada through Martha Retreat Centre. Speaking with the Sisters, we smile as we reminisce, they helped train me up to be the Executive Director of the Centre. Their continued support is invaluable as I learn to navigate through the work of the Centre.
I retired last spring from the City of Lethbridge where my 30 year career centered emergency communications with Police, Fire, and EMS. I also worked within an administrative support role for the Lethbridge Police Service for several years. I am a member of Toastmasters International, and facilitate faith based grief support groups.
Loving being outside as much as possible, I enjoy fly fishing, RVing, and spending time with my incredible family. I am looking forward to the dynamics of this new role and continuing to serve the public, now in a completely different aspect, with community outreach and retreat based learning. I feel strongly that this position is an opportunity to continue my spiritual growth and to be a part of the vision of the Martha Retreat Centre.
I've been coming to the Martha Retreat Centre as a participant in the programs for many years and have always experienced a sense of peace, stillness and joy. Prior to coming to the Centre, I worked in the banking industry for over 34 years and retired in May 2020 to be still and listen to God's intended path for me. My journey brought me to the Martha Retreat Centre and I am pleased to be one of the two Executive Assistants. I am grateful to be a part of the continuation of the Sister's and the Martha Retreat Centre's mission, which is to provide a quiet, welcoming space where people, individually or in groups, can come away and rest awhile, nourish their spirits and open their hearts to God's call to them, given the current reality of their life's circumstances. I look forward to sharing the beautiful gifts the Centre has to offer and invite you to explore what the Centre has to offer you.
When I arrived to Lethbridge, Martha Retreat Center became for me a place of home, peace, stillness, rest and freedom. I am so grateful to be here, welcome our guests and share with them all the beautiful gifts the Center has to offer.
I am married to Lew and we have two daughters (Serena and Kara) who are married (Dave and Josh) and we have two grandchildren (Sam and Emery). I taught students with high needs in Grande Prairie and Lethbridge for twenty years. When I retired, I began substitute teaching. When Serena and Sister Theresa talked about Sister Rosalie retiring and the Centre needing a part-time cook, Serena suggested we talk. That led to me cooking for Martha’s Retreat Centre for the last 4.5 years. I have enjoyed my work and interactions with the Sisters, staff, board, and many guests at the centre!
I have been coming to the Martha Retreat Centre as a participant, retreat leader and book study facilitator since the mid 1990s. I value the Centre for its peacefulness, serenity, solace and sacredness. I always leave Centre with a deep sense of gratitude for being able to spend time in such a special place. This atmosphere is, I believe, due in large part to the ongoing devotion and dedication of the Sisters of St. Martha over the past fifty years to practicing “Gospel Hospitality”. Their legacy is still felt as the Centre moves forward under new leadership. As a retired educator and health care administrator, husband father, grandfather and great-grandfather, I feel privileged to serve on the Board of Directors of the Martha Retreat Centre Society. I sincerely believe the services and programs offered by the Centre are needed more than ever as our society tries to navigate a troubled world.
The Martha Retreat Centre has been a part of my life since the late 1980’s. Over the course of the last four years, I have felt a stronger calling to become more involved with the happenings at the Martha Centre through retreats, workshops and volunteering as a Board member. For me, being a member of the Board of Directors means that I am part of a team which is helping continue the legacy of Gospel Hospitality which the Sisters of St. Martha established during their time in Lethbridge.
As a Martha Associate I have been blessed with the teachings and wisdom from the Sisters of St. Martha for many years. Through volunteering and participating at the Retreat Centre I have received the gifts of gospel hospitality, peace, stillness, and quiet enriching my spiritual well-being. These gifts empower me to live my best life in this busy world. Now as a serving Board member, of the Martha Retreat Centre Society, I am honoured and dedicated to contribute responsibility to the care and service of the centre. Psalm 46:11 invites us to, “be still and know that I am God” and the centre has given us a place to experience this for over 50 years. Let us, together, be challenged and blessed as we step into the future with undaunted hope.
SR. THERESA PARKER
I am a Sister of St. Martha of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, and have been privileged to serve at Martha Retreat Centre since 2009. During my last two years in this ministry some friends of the Centre worked with us (Marthas) to transition Martha Retreat Centre to a Society status. I am now living in Antigonish, N.S., and I join the Board through telephone or zoom for the monthly meetings. I will continue to serve on the Board for several more years. It is my hope and fervent prayer that Martha Retreat Centre will continue to nurture life in Lethbridge and surrounding areas through Gospel Hospitality well into the future.
My thirty-five-year career in Catholic Health Care, my close association with the Sisters of St. Martha throughout that time, and my own life experience have all engendered in me a firm belief that we have a human need and a responsibility to nourish the physical, emotional and spiritual levels of our well being. I am a mother of two and a grandmother of five. Like many of us, I have experienced occasions when life's circumstances can be overwhelming and I have seen the value of the Martha Retreat Centre as a place of stillness to leave behind the noise in our lives and to connect with our true selves. I am proud to be among the members of the Martha Retreat Centre Society Board and I am eager to continue the service that the Sisters of St. Martha brought to the City of Lethbridge for over fifty years.
SR. ELIZABETH RIOPELLE
I am a Sister of St. Martha of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, and I am on the Leadership Team of our Congregation. My ministries over the years have been in finances – Director of Finance and Budget Manager in Hospitals in Cape Breton and Congregation Treasurer for the Sisters of St. Martha for many years. I am delighted to be serving on the Martha Retreat Centre Board from a distance through the marvels of technology! I will work to promote the mission of Martha Retreat Centre and help to ensure the Centre is sustainable well into the future.
I was first introduced to the Martha Retreat Centre in 1996 when my wife and I moved to Lethbridge. Spiritual direction had been part of my life for many years and it was Sister Therese LeBlanc who introduced me to the Centre; to the hospitality, warmth and guidance the Centre provides. I am a member of the L'Arche community in Lethbridge and the sisters have provided spiritual direction and guidance to the L'Arche community since its foundation in 1991. Over the past twenty-five years I have assisted at retreats as a Spiritual Director and helped to facilitate retreat programs and conferences. I am honoured to serve on the board at this time of change and to be one of many who are guiding the Centre into the future. Today, more than ever, the Gospel Hospitality the Centre provides along with programs of support and growth are needed to help people discover and/or hold onto their centre of core beliefs.
The Martha Retreat Centre became a part of my life about 10 years ago as a participant in book study courses and meditation training. I am impressed with the continuing feeling of welcome, love, peace, solace and spirituality that exists here. Through the wide breadth of courses offered, I met Sister Theresa, Cheryl Dick & through the L'Arche organization where I was working at the time my love of the Martha Retreat Centre grew even more. The Centre represented for me the spiritual and emotional sustenance my soul needed. My career has encompassed teaching math, accounting and economics for 25 years at LCI, the Lethbridge College and at two International Schools in China plus a few years bookkeeping and administrative work. I am a mother of three and grandmother to two. Life has thrown me curve balls as is the case for so many and at times life has been overwhelming. The Martha Retreat Centre has offered me comfort, reassurance, clarity, and consolation. I am honoured therefore to be a part of the Board for the Martha Retreat Centre and look forward to being directly involved in the planning, review, and legacy that this Centre provides.
I have been involved with the Martha Retreat Centre for a number of years. It all started with spiritual direction and a unique friendship with Sister Loretta that began almost ten years ago. Divine timing had me attend a seven-day silent retreat that coincided with my 50th birthday. What a gift to actually discover who God says I am; for this I am forever grateful! World Class facilitators along with the profound, simple grace of the Sisters have been very influential in helping me find my spiritual roots through the programs and space offered at the Centre. I am involved with the Board because I value the importance of the Sisters mission and their desire to see the continuation of the programs and benefits the Centre offers. It is an honor to hitch our wagon to their wisdom as we pursue a new frontier. We are rooted in a solid foundation and plugged into the Sisters undaunted hope. This makes me excited for the future and I look forward to what God has in store.