ST. ALBERT – Lucie Leduc has come full circle.
Born and raised in nearby Morinville, she has spent the last 14 years in Saskatoon. Now she has returned to Alberta, taking over as the director of the Star of the North Retreat Centre in St. Albert.
She has worked in pastoral ministry at St. Mary's Parish in Red Deer, was a teacher/guidance counsellor at St. Matthew's Catholic School in Rocky Mountain House and taught half a year at a school in Peace River.
Since 1998, Leduc has served as the program coordinator for Queen's House of Retreat & Renewal in Saskatoon. It was an Oblate retreat house, same as the Star.
"I had wanted to do retreat ministry for a long time so it was really a good fit for me," said Leduc.
She replaces Sandra Prather, who served the Star for about 20 years. Leduc acknowledges Prather's hard work and that of the current staff.
Her profound spirituality, extensive experience in retreat ministry and servant leadership are appreciated by the Star board's search committee.
However, new challenges await. Leduc will learn new skills with administration, care of the building and fundraising. She has "dipped her feet in those areas" but not as fully as will be required at the Star.
"I was anxious to get back here because my mom is aging, and she's in Morinville. My three adult kids and two grandkids are all out here, so I was really drawn back," said Leduc.
She has a special bond with the Star, dating back years ago when her mother bought her a pass for a weekend retreat.
"I was a young mom, struggling. I remember that retreat very vividly. It was my first weekend retreat, and it was on forgiveness. It was exactly what I needed, and it was a graced time," said Leduc.
Since that first retreat, she has taken a retreat every year. The history and her personal connection with the Star are of great help today in her new role.
"The whole thing of retreating, that universal need to go away to a quiet place and be with our God is what it's all about, and that's what I hope to invite and bring more awareness to," said Leduc.
The Star has an environment of peace, prayer and God's presence. She hopes to keep broadening the use of the retreat house to Catholics and ecumenical groups.
Leduc said while she has some new program ideas, she is in no hurry to shake things up.
The Star will remain a peaceful oasis, a pleasant getaway where people come to be refreshed, gain a fresh perspective on things and rediscover the sacred dimension of life.