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The Retreat Cat

Mary Rose Bacani Valenti

Thursday, July 2, 2009

hfrccollageThis week I fell in love with another cat (other than my own cat at home) from the Diocese of London, Ontario. This cat lives at Holy Family Retreat House, which is located in a little hamlet called Oxley, 47 kilometres south of Windsor by Lake Erie. He definitely enjoys cottage country, complete with birds, foxes, and rabbits!
This was his first summer at the Retreat House, and he had the unusual experience of having to share his Retreat House for a week with around 15 women, mostly women religious (with four lay women present, including me). I had the unusual experience of taking part in this directed retreat with mostly women religious, so we shared something in common.
But I envy this cat for the beauty he is exposed to everyday. He didn’t care much for prayer, but I did. I found several spots that had the silence that I needed to fall more in love with God. And I had a wonderful Retreat Director who really guided me along the path to deeper knowledge of God-became-man in Jesus Christ. One Gospel passage that had a profound effect on me regarding Christ’s humanity was that in Luke 22:39-46, of Christ’s prayer at the Mount of Olives. I realized that here was probably Christ’s weakest moment. He was asking his Father to remove his suffering if he could! If it weren’t for Christ’s great love for prayer, how would he have gotten the strength to do what he had to do?
My favourite memory (other than my memories of playing with the Retreat Cat) is going through the journals left in certain spots at the Retreat House. People were invited to write their thoughts and reflections, and I was amazed at the messages from teenagers! One teenager wrote about how he almost didn’t come with his buddies, but his four-day retreat really changed his life!
I left with a renewed commitment to prayer in my life and to really promoting houses of prayer like this one, which provides a place for men and women, young and old, religious or lay. I know that this wasn’t the last I’d be seeing of the Retreat Cat!
To find out more about Holy Family Retreat House you can visit

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