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.