A Retreat Centre for the Diocese Alexandria
One of Bishop Eugene LaRocque’s first initiatives when he was installed as the bishop for the Diocese of Alexandria (as it was then called) was to develop a diocesan retreat centre to replace Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House.
On October 17, 1974, the Sisters of the Holy Cross, who had taught at Iona Academy, donated their former St. Raphael's residence to the Diocese for $1.
In July 1975, Fr. Donald Scott was appointed to oversee the renovations and opening of Maison Shalom House. This became a true diocesan affair as groups such as the Knights of Columbus contributed money and items to the cause. In addition, individuals from around the diocese donated their time to paint and renovate.
Maison Shalom House Opens
On October 14, 1976, Bishop LaRocque formally named and opened Maison Shalom House. Under the guidance of Sister Jeannine Bissonnette and with the assistance of Sister Georgette Thibault, both Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Maison Shalom House grew into a successful and popular centre of spiritual growth. Brother Joseph Vaillancourt was also part of the team for 17 years.
During the 32 years that Shalom was located in St. Raphael’s 84,503 people were welcomed by the team.
Working at Shalom allowed us to share our order’s charism of charity, kindness and mercy with those who were looking for peace, the meaning of the word Shalom.
Sister Jeannine. Bissonnette
A Move to Alexandria
On February 4, 2008, the Poor Clares moved out of the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall. They generously donated their former Alexandria convent to the Diocese for $2 - inflation I guess! The decision was made to move the diocesan retreat centre to this new more modern facility, where it continues to flourish. Be sure to check out our website at www.maisonshalomhouse.ca
Future blog posts will provide you a glimpse of the past, present and future of Maison Shalom House. Please feel free to share your favourite memories of Maison Shalom House in the comments section—we’d love to hear from you!