Pentecost: The Breath of Jesus

Br. Michael ofm

Pentecost is not just a great festival which marks the birth of the Christian Church it also calls the followers of Christ to action. The most common image for Pentecost is the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples and Mary as recorded in Acts (2.1-11). However, the Gospel of John (20.19-23) also has a beautiful Pentecost moment, which speaks to what we are to do as followers of the Risen Christ.


Yes, the Acts version has people gathered and the gift of languages being shared as the message of Jesus is broadcast. It is powerful and speaks to the diversity of the church. The Johannine version is more intimate and speaks to the gift of the Holy Spirit at work in each one of us. In John’s account the movement of Pentecost begins with Jesus greeting his disciples on the day of Resurrection. He then offers them peace, they are reminded they are sent and finally Jesus breathes on them to receive the Holy Spirit and the call to forgiveness.


I find the intimacy of John’s account a beautiful invitation for all of us who profess to be Christian. The intimacy of the moment capture is a reminder of how intimate our relationship with God is, for Christ dwelled among us and gifted us his very Spirit. This is the intimacy of “there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life” (John 15.13). In doing so Jesus released his Spirit to be infused into our living, moving and being (Acts 17.28). The closeness of our Risen Saviour is as a close as our breath.


The gift of peace Jesus promised his disciples gathered on the evening of the Resurrection, is beyond the peace of our world. It is not even the peace our world tries to fight for each day. The gift of the peace of Christ is the gift of our hearts being attuned to him, of surrendering our demands and false selves knowing we are met with the depth of love poured out. “By his wounds we are healed” (1 Peter 2.24) and this healing comes with hearts which settle into peace when they are met with the wounds of the Risen Lord. Only the risen life which comes with these wounds can bring us true peace.


This peace meets us in what is ours to do, which is to be sent. Notice how Jesus doesn’t tell the disciples to sit around and wait for more instructions, he tells them to go. He reminds them they are sent in his name because he was sent by God. It is in this sending which leads to the great festival of Pentecost where the disciples proclaim the good news, worship God and are a holy place for the Spirit to fall. This too is the truth of our life. We each are a vessel of the Holy Spirit, and we too hold the intimacy of our God in our hearts for we are sent to give witness to how this has transformed our life.


In the upper room on Resurrection Day, Jesus breathes on those gathered, he continues to pour himself out to those whom he loved and empowers them to be forgivers. To forgive means we have made space for the other, it means we have been met with peace, it means we are open to the working of the Holy Spirit. Our hearts and homes are the places where we are filled with Holy Spirit and enkindled with the fire of the love of God, they are where forgiveness takes root.


The Spirit of Jesus breathes through all of creation and each one of us, may we continue to trust we are met with this gift not only at Pentecost but also in each season of the journey ahead. Let us go forth as the “baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12.12-13) being signs of renewal in our world. Come Holy Spirit!


Photo Credit: Robert Collins

New Trails Focus on Spiritual, Mental and Physical Health

Just in time for Mental Health Week (May 6-12, 2024), Mount St Francis Retreat Centre is excited to announce the opening of their Brother Sun and Sister Moon walking and biking trails.  Taking advantage of 2400 hours of sunshine a year, and placed on Cochrane’s iconic Big Hill, the two new trails are ideally located for reflection and contemplation, along with enjoyment of the natural landscape.

Funding support from Cochrane Home Treasures Community Grant program has allowed for an upgraded welcome area, along with user signage and maps, contemplation benches and interpretive panels installed later this year.  These panels will be focused on positive mental and spiritual health, the benefits of being active, and brain development.  “With our mission being one of peace, healing, and prayer, we believe a natural space to encourage thoughtful reflection will be useful not just for our retreatants, but also for the entire community who will benefit from this project.  Placing thoughtful interpretive panels along with benches at which to rest and meditate will make these new trails even better”, said Brother Michael Perras, OFM – Guardian of Mount St Francis Retreat Centre.

Through a formal Trail Stewardship Agreement established in 2022, Bike Cochrane has been volunteering hundreds of hours in building, upgrading and maintaining the new trails and assisting on other projects on behalf of the Retreat Centre.  Bike Cochrane’s Trail Director Paul Perrault commented, “We are so honoured to work with Mount St Francis on this project.  These trails access some of the most beautiful terrain in the Cochrane area, and we’re thrilled that the Friars have allowed public access to their private land.  We all have a responsibility for respectful use and Bike Cochrane is pleased to be a part of expanding trail access to all Cochranites.” Bike Cochrane’s Trail Steward for Mount St Francis Ryan Sheehan added, “The Mount St Francis land is special.  It is a privilege to work towards these common goals alongside the Retreat Centre and we look forward to continuing this relationship and the projects we are doing together.”

While much of the Mount St Francis Retreat Centre’s 500-acre property is closed for silent retreat activities and spiritual growth, they’ve graciously opened public trails on both the sunny southern bench of the Big Hill, along with a beautiful creekside trail along the Bighill Creek (see map).  One area of their ministry is Serenity Retreats which focus on the spiritual principles and practices of the 12 Step program in addictions recovery. The Friars have had a long-standing outreach to the 12 Step communities, and publicly opening their trails to celebrate mental health week seems fitting.

The new Brother Sun and Sister Moon trail names are tied to the St Francis of Assisi hymn Canticle of Creatures.  In this hymn, St Francis calls out all creatures, whether minerals, plants, or animals, as siblings to praise their Creator.  The beauty of this space allows all to enjoy this gift.

Although there isn’t a parking area that services these two trails, using the Cochrane Ranche or Cochrane Ranche House parking lot and trailhead allows access to this area along the Cochrane Ranche Trails and then up the new Sunterra Trail 1 trail to the Cochrane cemetery road.

Trail users are required to stay on marked trails and obey all trail signs.  Due to the friars’ silent retreats, well-behaved pets are permitted only ON leash, and both trail running, walking, and biking are permitted activities.  Any trail issues and fallen trees can be reported to

If your group is interested in booking a retreat, please contact Mount St Francis Retreat Centre at 403.932.2012 and review the Retreat Calendar at

If you are interested in supporting these trails, please consider supporting the Mount St Francis Retreat Centre through a charitable donation here:

Fr. Bob’s Spiritual Journey

Fr. Bob’s Spiritual Journey

Through the Holy Land

To view this 42- episode series

please visit

Created by Paul and Elaine Knudson

Easter: A Season of New Life

Br. Michael Perras, ofm

St. Francis of Assisi in his “Praises of God” prayed, “You are our hope, You are our faith, You are our charity, You are all our sweetness, You are our eternal life.” These beautiful lines of prayer speak to the depths of this Easter Season. St. Francis trusted in new life and knew God was the source of this new life. It is why as his life was ending, he was able to prayer, “Praise to you my God for Sister Death.” He trusted in the promise of the Resurrection. He was able to surrender into “My God and My All” who was his hope, faith, charity, sweetness and eternal life. This is the anchor of Easter, our Savior Jesus died entrusting his all into God and God raised him from the dead so we may know the fullness of eternal life. St. Francis trusted in this promise. Do we? As we face the challenges of life, the setbacks, the little deaths, the brokenness and the letting go, do we trust our Risen Lord is with us as our hope, faith, love and life?

Mary Magdalene had to, so did Thomas, John, Peter and the Emmaus disciples. In the Easter weeks ahead, we will hear of the early church community which formed after the Resurrection. They too needed to trust the Risen Lord was present with them in the stories they shared and in the blessing and breaking of bread. The first believers are encouragement for us today. The chaos of their world is still the chaos we see in our world; we must be attentive to the Risen Lord in our midst in the simplest of ways.

As the Easter weeks unfold, we hear Jesus described as the Good Shepherd, and the True Vine. Images we can appreciate during this springtime. Images which remind us to pay attention to how the Risen Jesus is woven into the ordinary of our lives. The Risen Lord guides us as his flock. He desires nothing more than for us be a community gathered around the gift of his Risen Life. We are also to grow and produce fruit which shows the world we believe what we profess in our baptismal promises which we have just renewed.

Later in the Easter Season we will be reminded of how Jesus showed us God’s love and how he has asked us to show this love for one another. Christ chose us and if he chose us then the way we show who he is and his love in our lives matters. How in this Easter Season can we be concrete expressions of his love? How can we offer the hope of Easter to someone? In what ways can we encourage new life in our relationships and community?

Weeks from now at the end of the Easter Season, we will hear the beautiful promise of Jesus being with us until the end of the ages and the gift of his Spirit to us. The gift of his Spirit activates in us praise and entrusts us as heralds of his hope, faith, charity, sweetness and new life. Let us be these heralds this Easter Season!

Alleluia! Christ is Risen! Easter Peace!


This will be the last post for a several weeks as I take time to work on some new projects and rest.

Thank you for journeying with me through Lent and into Easter. God bless you.


Photo credit: Suzanne D. Williams





Awe: The Gift of Easter


Br. Michael Perras, ofm


Awe is described as a feeling of reverence and respect mixed with wonder. Does this not describe the Resurrection with the encounter of the empty tomb, meeting the Risen Lord and being sent on mission to tell the Good News? Awe fills us at many moments of our life. It need not be fleeting rather it can be a constant gift which reminds us we are people of Resurrection each day.

Being able to appreciate springtime sunrises often fills me with awe. Seeing a crocus spring up after the winter does as well. So does hearing my name called in a distinctive way. Creation and relationships have ways of gently calling us to be filled with awe. Do we allow ourselves to be touched by awe? Have we moved into “survival mode” or a dull routine where the celebration of Easter has become just another part of the calendar year? Easter launches the 50-day season, an invitation to let awe be a gift to move past survival and routine. It may begin with something as simple as our name being called or in the way we call another’s name.

We hear our name called thousands of times over our lifetime, when we hear it for the first time in a new way we are filled with awe. The first time I heard my name combined with Uncle or with Friar made me pay attention and take note. I was filled with awe. When Jesus called Mary Magdalene on Easter morn, she heard her name in new way and in hearing it she was awe-filled but also called and sent. She was by name sent as the Apostle to the apostles to announce to them, “Christ is Risen… I have seen him!” We too are called and sent, not only in this Easter Season but all the days of our life. How does our daily living reflect the Resurrection? How do we call others by their name? Do we leave them feeling regret or awe?

Catholic journalist Philip Kosloski reflecting on the life of St. Francis of Assisi said, “A life lived authentically rooted in the Gospel has more power than any king or earthly ruler and will endure for all eternity.” This is at the core of our Easter awe and living. It is at the core of our name being called by the Risen Christ. This is not just for St. Francis and the countless saints we honor, it is for us, today, here, and now in 2024. We, the saints of today, the People of the Resurrection for our time and space are called and sent. May our lives be a witness of the gospel and lead others to know awe truly is a gift still accessible to us even today. We do this when we embrace how reverence, respect and wonder aren’t obscure gifts rather they are daily gifts because of the Resurrection of Jesus. We are claimed in baptism, we are called to live the gospel authentically (which means always learning and growing from it) for we are witnesses of the Resurrection. Let us be willing to be filled with awe and then fill our part of the world with awe, it will make a difference just like the Resurrection does each day.


Alleluia! Christ is Risen! Easter Blessings!


Photo Credits: Dominik Scythe and Ashlee Marie

Blessings of Hope at Easter Triduum

Lenten Reflections with Br. Michael Perras, ofm


During these sacred days we pray with

St. Francis of Assisi:


Blessed be the Lord, God of Israel,

who has redeemed the souls of his servants

with his own most holy blood,

and will not abandon those who hope in the Lord.

– Psalm Six – Office of the Passion of St. Francis


Peace and All Good

to bless you and your home

during this Easter Season.


Easter Blessings and Greetings

from the Friars and Staff at Mount St. Francis

High Stakes Humanity: Holy Week Perspectives

Lenten Reflections with Br. Michael Perras, ofm

               As we journey into this Holy Week let us be attentive to the tensions and movements of the heart of not only those who lived with Jesus but also our own and those who live with us. Holy Week is time to consider the perspectives of high stakes humanity.

The shouts of “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord” bring us into this week. We add our voices of praise for we know the rich blessings of Christ. Do we live from a place of blessing and gratitude?

In the gospels for each day of Holy Week we see and hear many different characters. We begin with Pilate and the tension he carries. He feels torn and, in the end, lets pride lead the way. When tensions arise in our life or community do we hold firm in our blinded ways or are we willing to listen to truths we have not considered?

We again encounter Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. They offer a space for Jesus to gather with those dear to him. During this time Mary anoints the feet of Jesus. When we see actions for the good of others which challenge our norm do we get uncomfortable and defensive, or do we take note and let our heart be transformed?

Peter also plays a key role in the unfolding of the week, as does Judas. One denies and the other betrays. We too know the pain these actions cause in our lives. Denial cuts to the heart and betrayal leaves one feeling abandoned. How do we not let moments of denial and betrayal destroy our living in Christ? How do we rise above?

As we enter the Triduum we are invited to table with Jesus and his disciples. At this table not only are we gifted the life-giving bread and living cup, we are also shown what it means to be of true service and to lay down one’s life for another. Who do we need to be gathered at table with during the season ahead? Who do we need to thank for their acts of service? No matter where we are in the journey of life are we willing to lay down our life for another through sacrifices and service?

As we come to Good Friday, we again hear the cries of “Crucify him!” The angry jeers of the crowd. We cannot remain here; we must move to the foot of the cross. Here we see the deep care of Jesus as he gifts John to his mother and his mother to John. The early church will know it is anchored. We too must note the actions of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. Their care for Jesus calls us to be care givers for the Body of Christ. How can we do this in these holy days and in the season ahead?

We then we enter the silence of Holy Saturday. A perspective which we often ignore. How can we incorporate even a moment of holy silence into our daily living?

Holy Week is indeed high stakes. Let us enter earnestly, paying attention to the movements of the week and the movements of our heart.


We glory in your cross, O Christ for it is the way to life.



Photo Credit: K. Mitch Hodge

Renewal: The Essence of Lent

Lenten Reflections with

Br. Michael Perras, ofm

Week 5


Throughout the season of Lent we have heard scripture which speaks of renewal and being anchored in Christ. As we begin this Fifth Week of Lent the scriptures for Sunday are an invitation for our hearts to be made new as we journey towards the great Easter Feast.

The prophet Jeremiah (31.31-34) ascribes to God, “I will be their God and they shall be my people… from the least of them to the greatest.” These beautiful words speak of the deep covenant bond God has with us. Each day this covenant is renewed and refreshed. This covenant is sealed with the love of Jesus Christ poured out for us and each day we must embrace it as a way of living out God’s law of love.

The Fifth Sunday of Lent is also known as Solidarity Sunday. It is a reminder of the covenant we share with all of God’s people from the least to the greatest. To be in solidarity with each other is to see all as valued members of the covenant. As Christ came to serve, we too are called to follow him by serving him through service to the poorest of the poor and those who do not know they are valued members of the covenant. This speaks of renewal. When we encounter the poor, the sick, or the hurting are our hearts created anew or are they hardened? Do we embrace the essence of Lent as an opportunity not only for our renewal but also for the renewal of the church and all people?

This is not a lofty goal set aside for the Pope and theologians, it is the core of who we are as Christians. Each one of us gives witness to Christ and is a messenger of renewal. It is in this witnessing we can then understand the grain of wheat falling into the earth and dying to bear much fruit (John 12.24). If we consider the seed renewed in the way it gives its all to bear fruit, we are encouraged in the renewal of this season. If we fail to see the seed as renewed through it’s giving, we end up feeling cut off, caught up in our stuff and lacking the trust needed for covenant, growth, and renewal.

In this Fifth Week of Lent let us note the moments of renewal and how we have lived in solidarity with each other this Lent. In prayer let us ask for awareness of where we need to be renewed in our living and in our efforts for solidarity. The days of Lent draw short, the Season of New Life is on the horizon, let us be drawn into the heart of Christ. Let us trust renewal is happening as our hearts are made new even in the smallest of ways. Let us trust our God is with us, for he sent his Son who is our “source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5.9).


Renew us O God, for we are your people.


Photo Credit: Kai Pilger





(Temporary Contract: May 1 – August 30, 2024; 40 hours a week)

Summary description: This Summer Position primarily attends to groundskeeping, minor repairs and maintenance and setting up and cleaning up of various events. This position reports directly to the Franciscan Local Minister and works closely with the Maintenance Manager.

Specific duties include:


  • Maintaining lawns by mowing, trimming and edging
  • Pruning, trimming plants and trees
  • Raking leaves, cleaning debris, performing general clean-up of landscaping area
  • Working with crew in maintaining trails
  • Operating landscaping equipment such as riding mowers, trimmers, chainsaws

Repairs and Maintenance:

  • Performing routine and preventative maintenance, e.g. painting, repair fences, posts, outdoor benches, moving furniture as needed

Set up and Clean up:

  • Performing routine custodial and cleaning duties of the outdoor grounds and indoor facility
  • Performing particular duties for the 75th anniversary celebration in August

Job Requirements:

  • Ability to work both under general supervision and independently
  • Take pride in your work
  • Have sufficient stamina and strength to do the requirements of the position
  • Have steel toe safety boots
  • Ability to work some evenings and weekends as required
  • Have reliable transportation to work
  • Have a full class five driver’s license


The preferred candidate is a post-secondary student

Salary: $17.80 hour, less required payroll deductions

Please submit your resume and cover letter by April 5th to:



Love: The Depth of God’s Heart

Lenten Reflections with Br. Michael Perras, ofm – Week 4

Love is an action word which is used loosely and also has a lot of power. When used loosely it does not carry strength in it’s meaning, for example: “I love chocolate chip cookies.” However, when love carries power, it sounds more like, “Until my dying breath I will love you” and these words are followed through with actions which show the power of this love.

The Fourth Sunday of Lent is known as Rejoicing Sunday because we are over the half point in our Lenten journey. We may be rejoicing because our Lenten practices are going well or we may be rejoicing because soon it will be Easter and our feeble attempts of Lenten disciplines can fade away until next year. Regardless of where we are this Rejoicing Fourth Sunday of Lent the depth of love is at the forefront of the scriptures.

In the story from Chronicles even in the unraveling of the people and their unfaithfulness, God meets them with compassion to stir their hearts. Even when they do not respond God remains faithful to the power of love. Where have we encountered the love of God in our life? When we feel like life is unraveling do we trust the love of God is meeting us, strengthen us, restoring us?

“For God so loved the world he gave his only Son” is one of the most quoted pieces of scripture. It’s nice to quote, but it must be more than a tag line in our Christian experience. Like Nicodemus we have a choice when we hear these powerful words. We can raise our eyes to see the promise of eternal life through the cross and resurrection or simply leave it as nice story told once a year. We can believe we are saved through the gift of Christ with us or not. We can trust his light is infused in us and enables us to serve others or we can ignore the light. It is good to ask ourselves: Why do I believe? Where has the light of Christ been made present to me? Where have I encountered the depth of God’s heart? What are my reasons (or the cause) for rejoicing this week of Lent?

We are “made alive, raised up with Christ and gifted with eternal life” (Ephesians 2.4-10), these alone are gifts to rejoice in. The challenge is to consider where in our living and in the lives of others do we see these gifts. St. Francis of Assisi once said, “where there is love (charity) and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance.” Let us lean into power of love for from it comes the wisdom to live well, to preach the gospel with our lives and to rejoice in the depth of the love of God which is always for us.


By your Love, O God, you have gifted us Eternal Life. 


Photo Credit: Anna Kolosyuk