April 23, 2021
Dear friends and retreatants,
I wish you and your family a Happy Easter. Our world is still in a pandemic. People are still suffering the effects of this pandemic in many ways; this situation calls us to keep praying for an end to COVID-19.
All of us at King’s House are happy to see our retreatants come back to make their yearly retreat. We are open and working under all the safety protocols and restrictions to keep everyone safe and comfortable. For the moment, retreats are limited to 36 retreatants to ensure social distance in all the house areas.
This year King’s House celebrates 70 years of retreat ministry in Belleville. We are grateful to God and to you, our retreatants, for being part of this holy history.
I want to update you on some of the improvements we have made at King’s House for your enjoyment.
Let’s start with what is new inside the house:
Last year, right before we closed temporarily because of COVID-19, we purchased 62 new memory foam mattresses for our bedrooms in the main house. We have gotten great reviews on the new mattresses.
More recently, Rocking Chair Row has gotten a nice facelift with brand-new paint all around, from the ceiling to the walls. The wall has been painted in nice burgundy color with gold-colored trim to match the artwork. The old bright lights were updated with new soft off-white-colored lights dimmed and set for meditative mood lighting.
Remember the shattered window near the entrance to the chapel? That window and the one next to it have been replaced with new windows. The new windows allow you to see the beautiful trees that adorn the back of the chapel. The broken door that was in the chapel has also been replaced. No more broken windows or doors in our chapel, only broken people who are made whole by the love of Christ who dwells in our beautiful prayer space.
Thanks to a generous donation by a retreatant, we have replaced and upgraded the sound systems in the main conference room, dining room, and chapel. The system is entirely new, including Bluetooth technology and the seven microphones we use to preach the Word of God during our retreats. (Now we have many more buttons and switches to learn not to move!)
All three rooms in the Red Brick building (temporarily not used, for COVID-19 reasons) got new raised toilets that use a lot less water.
Thank you to our exceptional housekeeping staff that keeps the house always looking good when you walk through the doors.
We have exciting new things happening outdoors too.
The St. Francis statue outside the Greystone house had lost its natural base (it was a tree stump). We are happy that St. Francis is now back on solid ground.
We are still looking for a donation to build a base for the statue of St. Joseph and Child that was rescued from a garbage dump and donated to King’s House. Pope Francis declared this year as a special year of St. Joseph. What better time to find a donor to help us build or purchase a base to set the statue of St. Joseph in its permanent place on the grounds of King’s House.
We have three new and exciting projects to tell you about.
A retreatant has donated four lovely-sized Oak trees to replace older trees that have fallen and died due to old age. The four Oaks are planted on the path behind the Greystone leading to the Mary Grotto. We can still use more trees to replace the many trees that have died in recent years.
A new organic herb and vegetable garden is growing behind the kitchen near the house’s front entrance. The fresh herbs and peppers will be used in the recipes prepared in our kitchen. Our hope is to expand the garden with time.
We are working on having honeybees and honey at King’s House! Our head cook, Tammy Ramsey, introduced us to her husband and son. They have learned the art of keeping honeybees on their property and have expanded their bee-keeping experience to King’s House. The hives will be kept off the parking lot, behind the Greystone house, so that bees will not be bothered. The honey will eventually be available in our gift shop.
Our next wish list item is replacing old and heavy tables that our high schools and other hosted groups use throughout the year. We want to replace 10 large round tables; each new table has a cost of $500.00. If you wish to help us with this project, please let us know, and know that we, and everyone who must move those tables week after week, appreciate your help and generosity.
I hope that you will soon be able to experience for yourself some of the upgrades that have happened in the past year at King’s House. We are celebrating 70 years, and we are looking forward to many more.
Know that Fr. Mark and I continue to pray for all of you daily at our prayer times and mass.
Fr. Sal Gonzalez, OMI