A look back in time

North Macomb's best kept secret began in the 1950's when Fr. Lawrence Merten started offering retreats at a home in St. Clair, Michigan, which had been donated to the Capuchins. These retreats became so popular that the home soon became too small to handle all who wished to attend the retreats.

In 1965, Michigan native and Capuchin retreatant, Art Zaske of Mt. Vernon, provided a 95-acre plot of land for purchase, giving Fr. Simon Hesse the challenge of raising the necessary funds to build a retreat house on this beautiful, rural property. Fr. Simon accepted the challenge.

An aerial view

It was on April 2, 1968, the very Rev. Rupert Dorn, Capuchin Provincial, laid the cornerstone of the Capuchin Retreat. The retreat center was built on the highest point of the property and the remaining land remained rural and untouched.

The beginning of June saw our first guests, who were 36 Capuchins, gathering to implement the documents of Vatican II. One month later, July 12th, the first silent retreat was offered for 38 women. The "Retreat Master" was Fr. Gerard Hesse, OFM Cap. the brother of the founder and first Director, Fr. Simon Hesse OFM Cap. Our first Canadian guests arrived from Sarnia for the weekend of November 29th.

The first year, June 1968 to June 1969, had a total of 2,975 guests at Capuchin Retreat. The center hosted 3 groups, held 34 weekend retreats and had 3 sisters retreats plus 5 days of recollection.

Fr. Roland Dusick, OFM Cap. became the Retreat Master in August of 1968 and preached all the retreats and days of recollection by himself until August of 1969.

In order to keep up with the changing times Capuchin Retreat updated the chapel, lounge, library, conference room and front offices in 1999 as a way to better meet the needs of each retreatant. In 2008 the comfortable bedrooms with private bath were updated with new furniture and light fixtures.The dining room provides a peaceful place to partake of delicious meals. The lounge with fireplace and view of the outdoors offers an added place to relax and pray.

From its initiation in 1968 to this day, Capuchin Retreat is a Center for Spirituality. A place to find God more deeply or newly in ones life. Our "retreat" is a treat for all. To retreat or to step back gives one the ability to look at ones life and relationships with self, others, and God. All are welcome here.

View of the retreat house in 2008