Posting:  Executive Director of Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre

January 29, 2024


Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre and the Franciscan Friars are looking for a charismatic faith leader with strong business acumen who will guide the implementation of the mandate to adapt, build and continue to develop one of the most attended retreat centres in Western Canada as it continues to grow as a Franciscan Spiritual Centre.


In this redesigned role, the Executive Director will be responsible for the effective administration of the Retreat Centre. They will support the Franciscan Holy Spirit Province Saint-Esprit of Canada and its Board of Trustees in fulfilling its governance and strategic functions and will be responsible to implement the agreed plan ensuring the strategic priorities of The Mount are accomplished in alignment with the mission statement and the basic principles of the Franciscan way of life. Additionally, they are empowered to fundraise while building relationships within the communities served.


The successful candidate will have a vivid track record of fostering teamwork, building trusting relationships, and achieving strategic goals.  Strong communication skills are essential.  The Executive Director will work closely with the Franciscan Provincial Council and its Board of Trustees, the Franciscan Friars, and the administrative team; experience in governance is an asset.


The office and staff are based at the Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre in Cochrane, Alberta.  We offer a comprehensive compensation package that is commensurate with experience and aligned with similar roles in similar organizations.


A more detailed role description is available upon request.


We invite qualified people who are interested in this leadership position and embrace the principles of the Franciscans to apply by sending their résumé to  by February 22, 2024.  All applications will be held in confidence.

The Power of Being Called 

– Br. Michael, ofm

                                               The gospels for the Second and Third Sunday of Ordinary Time are about call. The Second Sunday of Ordinary Time gospel is from John 1 and the Third Sunday is drawn from Mark 1, both speak of the first disciples called to follow Jesus. This sense of call is woven into us. We call and have been called. The invitation of Jesus must have come with a power in his tone or depth in his inflection for the first four to follow immediately. No questions, no guarantees, no policies to be explained and no forms to sign – immediate response on their part. This speaks to a deep trust, a willingness, an openness and a sense of awe.

The poet Mary Oliver is quoted as saying in life she learned three things.

  • Pay attention.
  • Be astonished.
  • Share your astonishment.


Is this not what the first disciples did?

They paid attention to Christ.

They were astonished in being called.

In their astonishment they trusted and learned and shared the good news. Which in turn

caused others to pay attention, were astonished and the message of Jesus touched lives and continues to do so. I believe we are astonished because love is powerful. To be called in love calls us to pay attention.


How are you being called?

Who are you paying attention to?

What astonishes you?

Blessings on your week.




Photo Credit: Annie Spratt

Where Are You Staying? 

– Br. Michael, ofm

Based on the Gospel of John 1.35-42


Where are you staying?

I have always found this an interesting question poised to Jesus. I find it interesting as well when it is poised to us over the course of our travels and journeys. It invites a conversation about place and being. It invites us to pay attention and maybe even to see again or see with new eyes. As I pondered this question and the simple response of Jesus, to “come and see” I had a sense of closeness.


I ask:

Where are you staying?

Jesus responds:

It is closer than you think,

sometimes it feels too familiar to you

and yet there are so many rooms.

I ask again: Where are you staying?

Jesus responds:

This place I am staying

is transformed again and again

with clarity and tenderness.


Come and See.

I respond by doing so.

It is a familiar and yet mysterious place,

there is warmth and depth to it.

I say:

I will remain here Jesus,

there is much here

and this familiar place feels new.

Jesus says:

Come and See

I respond:

Here, I find you, my Messiah,

I know I am taught here,

taught to see, speak, be and do things anew.

Here, you see me for who I am.

You call me to truth and to life.

You ask me to trust what you see.

Jesus responds:

I am staying here in your heart.

Photo Credit: Nsey Benajah

Epiphany 2024: Light Revealed in the Journey

– Br. Michael, ofm

Epiphany 2024: Light Revealed in the Journey

– Isaiah 60.1-6; Psalm 72; Ephesians 3.2-3a, 5-6; Matthew 2.1-12

January 7, 2024

Glenavon, SK


2024 Moveable Feast Days


In keeping with an ancient church ritual from a time when calendars were not readily available, at this point in the Liturgy for Epiphany one of the rituals was to announce the dates for the upcoming Liturgical Year. In times past it was necessary to make known the date of Easter in advance, since many celebrations of the liturgical year depend on its date.

Although calendars now give the date of Easter and the other feasts in the liturgical year for many years in advance, the Epiphany proclamation still has value. It is a reminder of the centrality of the resurrection of the Lord in the liturgical year and the importance of the great mysteries of faith which are celebrated each year (USCCB) and like we are reminder into today’s feast of Epiphany how Christ is reveal to us in all the seasons of the year.


Announcement of Easter and the Moveable Feasts:

Know, dear brothers and sisters,

as we have rejoiced at the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ,

so by leave of God’s mercy

we announce to you also the joy of his Resurrection,

who is our Savior.



On the fourteenth day of February will fall Ash Wednesday,

and the beginning of the fast of the most sacred Lenten season.


On the thirty-first day of March we will celebrate with joy Easter Day,

the Paschal feast of our Lord Jesus Christ.


On the twelfth day of May will be the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ.

On the nineteenth day of May, the feast of Pentecost.

On the second day of June, the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.


And on the first day of December, the First Sunday of the Advent

of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom is honor and glory for ever and ever.




It is good to be reminded our story is part of a bigger story. Our living through the days of this liturgical and calendar year are woven into the Christ story and we are called to take note of where he is manifested in our lives along the journey.

The Feast of Epiphany is one of the most ancient feasts of the church year, it has long been celebrated to remember Christ being revealed to people from all walks of life. It also serves as a reminder of how our lives are changed or transformed because of an encounter with him. We hear in today’s gospel, how the magi after meeting the Christ Child, “left for their own country by another road.”

Epiphany is a not just a bleep on the church year calendar, it’s not just a nice way to wrap up the Christmas Season, it is an opportunity for us to look at how the Light of Christ is woven into our story as we look back on the first six weeks of this new church year and this Christmas Season and to ask ourselves some important questions as we consider the other roads we are called to travel. Where have I encountered Christ? How has wonder and awe filled moments of my living? Am I allowing the true Light to be my guiding way or am I being caught up in the same fears as Herod? Where and how do I readily share my gifts?

Epiphany has long captured my imagination and my thoughts. Maybe because the questions I have just poised have filtered through my living. Or maybe because of the mysteriousness of the magi trusting a star – a star – to guide them to the “shepherd of Israel.” Or maybe because it is a moment to see Jesus – our Emmanuel – God with us – born for us – all of us; people from all walks of life, with our own interesting stories, moments marked throughout a year, with our baggage, our hopes, and our dreams.

The prophet Isaiah (60.1-6) reminds us, “arise, shine, your light has come, the glory of the Lord has risen upon you, lift up your eyes and look around you.”

As we journey into the days and months of this year; we too are the magi. It’s not simply about getting on our “camels” and reaching the next destination or the next feast or the next moment to numb ourselves. It is about being attentive to wonder and awe. I was reminded of this gift just the other day as I spent a day building Lego and going for a walk with my two youngest nephews. Wonder and awe, delight, and light… called to look up seeing light filtering in. The glory of the Lord has risen upon us, but if we keep drudging along with our eyes downcast and mumbling about the long journey, we will never see the stars, we will never be caught off guard by how close the Child born for us truly is in our lives. Let us consider: How has wonder and awe filled moments of my living? Am I open to wonder and awe being a guiding star for the months ahead?

Pope Benedict called the magi “men with a restless heart… filled with expectation… seekers of God.”

All journeys come with restlessness. Like many of us, St. Francis of Assisi was a restless person. He was always seeking the Christ, and in this seeking his restless heart was met with deep encounters and realities. When he went to the caves to pray – it was with expectant hope of meeting Christ. When he went out about creation preaching to birds, or picking the earthworms from the roadways it was his restless heart seeking God. When he was unpredictable in his actions it was because he was trying to pay attention to his heart and how it was creating a space for Christ. Each of us have these moments in our unfolding stories. We must ask ourselves: Where have I encountered Christ?

Pope Francis notes the “Magi personify all those who believe, those who long for God, who yearn for their home… they reflect the image of all those who in their lives have not let their hearts be anesthetized (numbed).” St. Paul in his letter to Ephesians (3.2-6) reminds us we are all “members of the same body and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel.” This hope-filled declaration speaks to us: a community of believers. As we long to know and see God, we each must continually invite our hearts to the truth and depth of the gospel for this is a beautiful, personal encounter and relationship with Christ. Unlike the magi who only had a brief encounter with him and then had to carry this as a guiding light for them on the rest of their life journey, we encounter Christ again and again: in each other, in serving others, in sharing our gifts, in praying together and in each Eucharist. In pondering this we ask ourselves: Am I allowing the true Light to be my guiding way or am I being caught up in the same fears as Herod? When do I readily share my gifts?

As much as we would like it to be Christmas every day of the year, we like the magi must set out on our journey. This journey filled with uncertain roads and mystery where Christ will meet us in the Ash Wednesday moments, the Triduum pathways, the joy of Easter, the refreshment of Pentecost, the time spent in ordinary living and then again in the reminder of how God chose to become one of us, when we will again remind ourselves as we cry out next Advent: “Come, O Come Emmanuel.” Our lives will look different 365 days from now, what will matter is how we journeyed from the crib of Christ by another road because of how we let the wonder and awe of Christ revealing himself to us impact us and in turn how we shared our gifts.

I would love nothing more than to stay here by the stable for next few months, but the time has come, for me, for you, for all of us, like the magi, like Joseph and Mary to now carry forth the promise of Christmas – Christ born – Christ our center. We are bearers of his light and hope for we are nourished with this Eucharist. In being nourished by Christ who is our light and center we serve as heralds for the world to look up for our light has come.

Creator of the heavens,

who led the Magi by a star

to worship the Christ Child:

guide and sustain us,

that we may find our journey’s end in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(The Daily Office SSF)


Three Gifts for the New Year 2024

– Br. Michael, ofm


Based on the scripture: Numbers 6.22-27; Psalm 67; Galatians 4.4-7; Luke 2.16-21


Today, January 1, as we mark the start of the new calendar year, as we pray for peace in our world and as we mark this Christmas Octave Feast of Mary Mother of God, the scriptures offer us three gifts. In this season of gift giving, today the scriptures speak of the gift of blessing, the gift of relationship, and then a triple gift of sharing-glorifying and pondering. I invite us to consider each.

The gift of blessing: “The Lord bless you and keep you.” This blessing God spoke to Moses to share with Aaron centuries later became a favorite for St. Francis of Assisi and is a favorite for many Christians. St. Francis wove these words of blessing into his own blessings and into the life of the Friars because he wanted all to know the gift of God’s face shining on them. The gift of blessing is a reminder of God at work in our life. To know the gift of blessing is a reminder each day of encountering the gracious mercy and love of God and knowing God looks upon us with tenderness and goodness. This gift of blessing is the promise of the Christmas Season – God with us – in the celebrations and in new beginnings, also in heartaches and trails, and in pondering, prayer and even in our seeking. Pope Francis reminds us, “what are we to do with this grace? Only one thing: accept the gift. Before we go out to seek God, let us allow ourselves to be sought by God. God always seeks us first” (Homily, Dec. 24, 2019). This is the gift of blessing today, this season and always.

The second gift is the gift of relationship. The letter to the Galatians expresses the depth of relationship and how each of us are brought into the miracle of Christmas. A pastor whom I have the great joy of journeying with, reminded me this excerpt from Galatians is the “stunning vision of how much we really are of God as we are now viewed as God’s own child.” The very Spirit of Jesus lives in us and allows each of us in our situations to call out to God – Abba – the intimacy of being in relationship with God – it is personal, it is holy, it is life for each of us. “All which is true of Jesus is then true of us through the Spirit, we are the son, the daughter, the child of God” because God desires nothing more than to be in relationship with us. This is a powerful reminder as we begin a new calendar year journeying into the unknown. It speaks of hope, of our value in being made of God and of the work of Christmas which is ours to do in building relationships, repairing relationships, and being a church which values the gift of relationship.

The third gift is the triple gift of sharing-glorifying and pondering. The gospel today picks up from where we left off on Christmas Eve. The poorest of the poor have received the good news; the outcasts have been reminded of their dignity and have been given the great message of telling others about the gift of God with us – here and now, in our life and reality. If we think of the lowly shepherds first gifted with sharing and glorifying at the beginning of the life of Jesus and also consider at the resurrection it was Mary Magdalene and the other women gifted with sharing the good news of his resurrection – we see God relies on those who society has not always valued, to be the first messengers of the depth of the love of God. This is important to take note of for it is an invitation for each of us during this Christmas time and as a new year begins. How do we share good news, support, presence and hope with others?

The mystic Maggie Ross reminds us: “Behold, Behold the God who is infinitely more humble than those who pray to him, more stripped, more emptied, more self-outpouring… the scandal of the Incarnation is not that we are naked before Emmanuel, God with us, but that God is named before us and, in utter silence, given over into our hands and hearts.” This is not a nostalgic moment of long ago for the shepherds hearing the name of Jesus and knowing they needed to tell others. It is not the moment for Mary and Joseph when they brought Jesus to the temple and officially named and circumcised him. It is not only even the moment of Mary pondering the miracle of which she has said yes. It is the miracle of Christmas each year; the beauty of God with us. It is the triple gift we each have the ability to share – we like Mary and Joseph, we like St. Francis 800 years ago this Christmas, have the Christ Child placed into our hands and hearts today. Each time we come to the banquet of the Eucharist and then carry forth the Eucharist in our daily living we live from and share this gift. Even in the chaos of the world there is still much goodness to share, to glorify God for and with Mary to ponder and treasure. As we look back on what was and as we look ahead to what may be, let us do so with deep trust – knowing there are treasures in the journey and let us make time to ponder with Mary how Christ is made known to us in the ordinary, the simple and in the Child we behold.

As we receive Christ in the Eucharist we will respond Amen, affirming our belief in the gift of blessing, the gift of relationship – God with us. In this Amen we affirm we carry Christ with us into 2024, we affirm God with us – will meet us in all the seasons of this year and we affirm we are a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. This is how peace in our world begins with each of us and our sharing of this blessing, this gift with others.

May each of us know much peace, much goodness and much joy in 2024.