Diocese of Baker Diocesan Retreat & Conference Center
Diocesan Retreat and Conference Center
Location: 14427 SW Alfalfa Road, Powell Butte, OR 97753 (directions below)
Mailing Address: 641 SW Umatilla Avenue, Redmond, OR 97756
The Grand Opening of the Powell Butte Retreat Center was on Labor Day, September 5, 2009. The weather was perfect (in the high 60's) and around 400 people came to see what many had helped to build for their future events, camps, retreats, and gatherings. They were not ready to be completely overcome with the great natural beauty and the quiet, out of the way place that drew them in to a spiritual calm.
Besides trying to establish a Camp, the desire was also to create a Diocesan place for a variety of gatherings. It is our hope that this Catholic Center will also be the site of the Bishop's Offices whose personnel are largely involved in the operation and management of the Camps and Retreat Center as well as in promoting and conducting various Retreats and Seminars.
We do hope that many people of the Diocese make regular use of the grounds and especially the Chapel and come to think of this place: a place apart, a desert place, as a kind of spiritual home where body, mind, heart and spirit can find rest and peace.
SAINT MARY CHURCH
The title for the Church, Saint Mary’s was chosen, in part because there is no Church in Crook, Deschutes, or Jefferson County Dedicated to Mary. In designing the Church the goal was to have something suitably devotional while at the same time welcoming, attractive and a bit rustic given the Camp setting. Thus the furniture is appropriately finished while a number of the accessories are a bit more local.
POPE JOHN PAUL II CONFERENCE CENTER
The Conference Center is named after Pope John Paul II who is the Pope with whom a vast majority of young adults and youth have grown up with. The picture is one from his later years which speaks both to the young and to those who are senior citizens.
The main structure of this building was built in the late 90’s as a horse barn complete with stalls, tack room and hay loft. A concerted effort was made to preserve as much of the external appearance as possible, accenting the rural nature of both the Diocese and this facility. The interior has been significantly remodeled but here too some attempt was made to preserve the original wood paneling and beams.
This large space is the major gathering place but there are also three other smaller sections, two upstairs in the former loft (one that has become the media entertainment center) and one downstairs. Those three rooms provide the opportunity for smaller group gatherings, particularly at youth camps, when several smaller groups may be occupied with different aspects of the Retreat on a rotating basis. The facility should provide sufficient space for gatherings of up to 200 youth.
The section of the project designated as “Camp” is appropriately named after Bishop Connolly who really pioneered the Youth Camp Program more than 35 years ago. It had been a dream of his to have our own Diocesan Camp and so a decision was made to name this Camp after him. While the entire facility is used for Camps the portion which will most likely be identified with Camp is this Cabin area and the Fire Circle.
There are five duplex cabins with each side of each duplex housing eight. This gives a total of 80 beds. Each Cabin is named after a pair of Saints and each Cabin has a different form of Cross built into the floor. The Cabins are named for men and women who were very close friends or even Family members. Each Cabin has a side named for a male Saint and a side for a female Saint. Each cabin also has a brief biography of its Saint as well as a description of the floor cross mounted on the wall. These are not necessarily men’s or women’s Cabins. All of the Cabins are identical, with the exception of the first two which are more readily handicap accessible. Each side of each duplex, besides the 8 beds, has a separate toilet and shower. The bunk beds in the cabins were made by Joe Hayes, a Diocesan employee, with a lot of volunteer help from John and Jordan Schiemer. As with other buildings there was a desire to preserve a rustic appearance while making sure the Cabins were both durable and attractive. We hope the Youth will find here a place which speaks to them of our love and concern for them while providing a place of powerful spiritual experiences.
The building near the center of the row of cabins, which is configured differently from the Cabins, is the Bathhouse. This houses several shower and bathroom units for use by the youth staying in the cabins as well as for those who might be camping or staying in RVs. There are seven RV parking spots with power and water hookups as well as a common dump station. This is not an RV Park but sometimes, especially at family camp, a number of folks who are traveling greater distances might prefer to bring their Campers.
Behind the cabins is a trail which winds through the junipers and connects the Cabins to each other and to the Youth Activities Center which is currently storage and maintenance. In addition to the Youth Activity Center there is ample area for playing fields both up above near the RV parking or down below near the Activity Center. There is still much to be done but most of what needs to be done can be worked at over the years as the Camp is used. The Fire Circle is very much a part of the Camp tradition. Here the youth gather every evening for a Campfire, S’mores and Youth “Witness” talks. The amphitheatre-like setting should easily accommodate several hundred youth.
One of the future projects is the building of a water slide. The hot summer afternoons during Camp almost require some kind of cooling down water activity and a water slide with a water play area at the bottom seems to be the most practical way to meet this need.
This building has been known by several names. It is known as the Staff House since some of the adults who work at Camp will stay here. It is also known as Retreat Rooms because here individuals or even small groups of ten or twelve folks (double occupancy) can come for quiet days at the Center. It is also known as motel six since there are six individual rooms each with two twin beds, private restrooms and shower. One is set up as handicap accessible. The end room also opens to a small conference area where six to ten retreatants could readily gather for discussion or private prayer. The views from the deck of the Retreat Rooms make setting chairs out on the deck an attractive possibility.
Visit our Photo Gallery for more pictures.