For the past seven years out quilting group has descended on Living Skies Retreat & Conference Centre (formerly St. Michael’s) for three days during the last week of October. We always have new participants along with our core group and the reaction remains the same – it’s a wonderful experience and the quilters leave reluctantly with their calendars marked for the next year.
We’ve thought long and hard about what it is about Livng Skies that calls us back year after year. The facility itself is unique and provides for both gathering space and privacy. Each participant has a bedroom with a private bathroom. We divide into three groups for quilting and the meeting rooms are set up in advance by the staff to meet our specific requirements. Some of us have been known to quilt past midnight and the early birds and insomniacs begin sewing early in the morning without disturbing the sleepyheads. Everyone has lots of space and light to create quilts.
At break times we gravitate to the lounge area and sink gratefully into the large armchairs. During the day we look out into the Qu’Appelle Valley and in the evening we turn the chairs around to face the large fieldstone fireplace (wood is always available to start a roaring blaze).
No one is late for meals! The food is the best of home cooking-warm buns, a plentiful salad bar and fresh fruit are staples and entrees and desserts are always delicious. For those of us with special dietary requirements tasty alternatives are provided with advance notice. Coffee breaks find us snackin g on home-made cookies and the vening snack is usually savory. When we feel the need to wear off some of that good eating, there are beautiful walks just out the door.
And then there’s the staff who greet us like a group of favorite aunties. Housekeeping staff keep the centre immaculate. And the resident handyman is readily available if we happen to need a quick fix. The front office staff work closely with us to ensure that our particular needs are met and out retreats continue to be affordable. The cooks make sure that the only problem we have with the food is that we eat too much! And then there’s the personal touch-the staff take a real interest in our creations and gracefully sidestep quilt blocks laid out in hallways and visit our sewing rooms to admire our projects.
At the conclusion of our retreat each year we all write our reflections in a group journal. Here are some of the comments from this year’s entries: “A relaxing treat!”, “Wonderful retreat!”, “Fabulous time.”, ” Good to come back.”, “What a great experience.”, “Definitely looking forward to next year.”, “Had a wonderful time.”, “Will be back next year.”, “As always staff so friendly and helpful.”, “I feel blessed to be here.”, “AWESOME!”
- Pat Lyster , Country Stitches Quilters
“Greetings and good day to the staff at St. Michaels Retreat. My name is Wesley Keewatin and I attended a staff retreat there in the last week of June, and I must say that I enjoyed myself tremendously your facility was most welcoming and the comfort there was top notch, I would recommend this very humbling place, I truly enjoyed the cooks most deserving meals and they were totally delicious, I commend them in their duties of feeding the people who come there. I just wanted to say that I didn’t forget St. Michaels and the hospitality that was bestowed on All Nations Hope Network, thank you so much!”
- Wesley Keewatin, All Nations Hope Network