During the summer of 1997 a few people at MCCToronto got together and organized a retreat. They knew that the Basilian Fathers of the Roman Catholic Church owned a small island towards the north side of Lake Simcoe and that - when the center was not being used - they rented out the retreat facilities on that island to other groups. We were fortunate to be able to rent it on a beautiful weekend in June.
The estuary in the cottage hamlet of Joyville from which the barge ferry took us over to the island on Friday and brought us back on the following Sunday
To reach the island cars were driven to the cottage hamlet of Joyville which is situated towards the north shore of the lake and accessible through the larger town of Orillia.
Strawberry Island is owned by the Basilian Fathers (ironically I am now living a block north of their university enclave) and is a pretty place.
One aspect of retreats that I have always enjoyed is the interaction between those who are there. Sometimes there were people who came to lecture on a subject but I much prefer a general discussion group.
Here is a group discussing some subject or another. At the same time discussions were underway on the other cottage verandahs.
Lovely trails meandered through the woods and, along one of those trails, was this cross.
Naturally, there was a fire pit and a singsong in the evening.
Finally -the outdoor 'chapel' where we gathered on Sunday morning for a service.
The mixed gender retreats were held only once or twice. Now there are separate retreats - one for the women and another for the men. I attended one of the latter a couple of years ago (I was booked to attend another but there was a mix-up between me, the ride coordinator and the assigned driver so I was missed). Usually these retreats are held at an education camp for school children up Airport Road in Caledon. There is a small ski hill across the road and the large acreage of the camp is quite hilly and laced by hiking trails - actually, the Bruce Trail passes through the area.
A large group of men. If this had been a 'co-ed' retreat, the group would have been at least twice this size. Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto is a large congregation.
The women's retreat was a number of weeks ago while the one for we men is upcoming. I am hoping to be able to go again.