Non-human guests at Holy Spirit Center

One of the pleasures of Holy Spirit Center is the chance to observe wildlife here.  We get to watch moose, birds and an occasional bear roam the grounds.  Two weeks ago, a very pregnant cow moose seemed to be in labor under the Library windows, before she walked uphill to the Stations of the Cross.  She hasn't been spotted since, but we suspect she and a new calf are somewhere on the grounds.

As a reminder to all visitors to Holy Spirit Center, please do not approach any wild animals, especially young ones.  If you are walking the Stations, we suggest you speak or sing your prayers aloud.  It doesn't have to be very loud, but it will alert any animals well before you can surprise them.  If you are have a dog with you, please be sure it is under leash or voice control, for your own safety.

Thank you for your consideration.  We want all visitors to Holy Spirit Center to enjoy a safe and peaceful time.

In memory of a good friend

January has been a blessed and busy month for us at the Holy Spirit Center.  We have had retreat groups every weekend -- our new friends at Maniilaq Association's Wellness Retreat, the privilege of hosting Engaged Encounter, the dear and familiar faces of Centering Prayer Retreat and the Deacon Candidates, and finally, the Legion of Mary.  It has been a cheerful, bustling way to start the year.

In the middle of this busy month, we received a message that stopped us all in our work.  Ben Tisdale, a long-time supporter of the Archdiocese of Anchorage and of Holy Spirit Center, died on January 13, 2015.

Holy Spirit Center appreciates each and every gift that we receive, and we have been sustained over the last 40-plus years by many small and large donations.  Ben and Dawn Tisdale's generosity changed the Center.

The heart of our main building is the small chapel, formally called the Holy Spirit Chapel.  It originally served the seminarians and nuns who lived at the Center.  By the 1980's, the Center was transitioning to its current use, and a small group of locals was regularly celebrating Mass at the Holy Spirit Chapel.  At that time, the chapel could hold about 50 people, and it was a snug fit. The Tisdales were regular members of the community, and one day, Ben announced that he needed more room.

Ben's solution was to design and build Resurrection Chapel.  It is a beautiful building, simple and timeless, where all visitors can find a quiet and peaceful place to pray. We regularly receive compliments from visitors and retreatants about the serenity and spiritual peace of the chapel.

Beyond the tremendous generosity of this beautiful place to pray, Ben and Dawn's gift has another, less obvious benefit.  Resurrection Chapel is three times larger than the original Holy Spirit Chapel.  Since it opened in 1991, the "Big Chapel" has attracted a community of worshipers who volunteer and donate in many ways to help keep the Holy Spirit Center running.  From weekly collections to raising funds for special needs, serving on the Board of Directors and leading retreats -- it's certain that Holy Spirit Center would be a much different place today without the community that Resurrection Chapel developed. 

All of us at Holy Spirit Center offer our sincere sympathy to Dawn and all the Tisdale family.  Ben will always be remembered here.

Fr. Luz - on the road again

On November 4-7, 2014, I attended the 2nd General Assembly of the National Association of Filipino Priests - USA, in Orlando, Florida.  The theme for "Paring Pinoy 2014" (Filipino Priests 2014) was "Nurturing, Sharing and Witnessing Our Call". There were more than three hundred Filipino priests attending, who serve in eighty-eight dioceses and archdioceses in thirty-five states across the USA.

The three Filipino priests from Alaska were Fr. Vincent Blanco of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Fr. Nelson Marilag of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Fairbanks and me. We had the wonderful opportunity of having a four day reunion with our classmates and schoolmates who are serving throughout the USA. There was never a dull moment with our friends and brother priests, and we were able to share our joys and the challenges of serving communities composed of people from different cultures and languages.  Like a kite that rises high with the wind against it, these challenges make us rise to the occasion, serving our people more wholeheartedly.

Our speakers inspired and challenged us with topics such as "The Challenges of the New Evangelization to the 21st Century Priests", by Cardinal Antonio Tagle of Manila; "Interplay of Faith and Culture in Priestly Ministry", by Cardinal Orlando Quevdeo, OMI of Cotabato; "I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me"; "The USCCB Perspective on the Filipino Catholics in America" by Archbishop Sartain of Seattle; "Filipino Priests and the Mission of the Church in America", by Archbishop Wenski of Miami; "Effective Leadership in the Light of Pope Francis' Evangelii Gaudium: by Archbishop Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations; "The Joy of the Priesthood" by Bishop Kicanas of Tucson; "Current Moral Issues: Challenges in Priestly Ministry" by Bishop McElroy, Auxiliary Bishop of San Francisco; "A Priest of Others: The Priest's Search for Meaning" by Bishop Tyson of Yakima; and "Effective Preaching" by Bishop Dimarzio.

One thing that stood out in our General Assembly was the vibrant and joyful participation of our lay volunteers who gave their time, talents and treasure in the preparation of the assembly and during the assembly itself.  I met new friends from the Orlando community and those who came from neighboring states just to serve the assembly.  We were one in the Lord - both the servant leaders and the faithful - serving one another.

Our next General Assembly will be November 6-10, 2017 in Galveston, Texas.  I am looking forward to the next assembly with my friends and brother priests three years from now!  Deo voluntas!  God willing!

Fr. Luz C. Flores - Pastoral Director, HSC

Welcome to Holy Spirit Center's new website!

As the season outside reminds us, all things change.  While we were content with our old website, we recently  found ourselves in a technological deadlock. New, secure credit-card processing technology was beyond the capability of our old site.  Through the generosity and professional knowledge of our web designer, we found ourselves with a fresh new website, updated technology and monthly savings.  Our lesson? One - as ever, we are grateful to the Holy Spirit Center’s supporters. Two – we are reminded, when faced with change, to face it with a cheerful and curious heart.  

One of the new features of this website is this, our Staff blog.  We look forward to letting you know a little more about the Holy Spirit Center, our mission as part of the Archdiocese, and the events that happen here.

As the season outside reminds us, all things change.  Our Maintenance Manager, Chuck, was able to complete the last mowing of the grounds for the season quickly and entirely repair-free, thanks to everyone who contributed to the fund for the new lawnmower.  Soon after that, the leaves began falling and our annual moose visitations started.  So far, we have had a cow and twin calves, one small and one large bull, who have been nibbling the hedges and bushes around the Center.

Watching local wildlife browse peacefully around the grounds is one of the pleasures of being here at the Center.  One of our less frequent wildlife sightings was the twin black bear cubs and their protective mother, spotted trying to get into our dumpster.  They were unsuccessful in their attempt, but did manage to entertain three Little Sisters of Jesus and a Marian Consecration Retreat group from St. Andrews.  These groups of ladies were different in a lot of ways, but while here, their goals were the same; to become closer to God.  It was a pleasure to host them and share Holy Spirit Center with them.

As the Little Sisters prepared to leave, snow began falling, and we finished our last getting-ready-for- winter chores.  Buckets of sand and snow shovels are near each door, the plow is attached to the truck, and the mower deck is switched out for the snow blower.  We also began preparations for our next guests, the Opus Angelorum retreat.  The Opus Angelorum group has been holding their fall retreat with us for at least the past decade, and we look forward to seeing them every year.  As we bid farewell to the Opus Angelorum group, we looked forward to another weekend with the Deacon Candidates.  This program holds a monthly retreat here September through June.  We have two groups this month; a new group that started last month, and a group that will finish the program in June.  It is a privilege to be able to host these folks as they move through their discernment and training.

We’ll finish October with our next retreat offering, A Dialogue of Life and Faith, led by Fr. Flores.  Some of the many things we look forward to in November will be Thanksgiving and the beginning of Advent. Tom, our Resident Host, is also patiently awaiting enough snow to begin his cross-country skiing season.  It’s a topic of good-natured banter at lunch; the no-snow-yet side hoping for a few more clear days, the pro-snow side serene in the knowledge that yes, it will inevitably snow.   The seasons change, as all things do, and we do our best to face those changes with cheerful and curious hearts.