From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Retreat center’s promotions’ manager hopes to build on recent attendance gains

Story and photo by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff

(From the OCt. 24, 2002 edition of the Inland Register)

Photo: Scott Flowers’ new position as promotions manager for Immaculate Heart Retreat Center began last summer. (IR photo)

Scott Flowers is the new promotions manager at Immaculate Heart Retreat Center, a job that officially began “earlier this summer.”

Flowers starts his newest position at a time when more and more people are using the retreat center. One of the reasons is the renewed emphasis on parish retreats. Deacon John Ruscheinsky, the center’s director, and Deacon Tom Heafey have done extensive traveling in the diocese in the past year to promote retreat programs.

Flowers brings a varied background to his work. He retired from the Air Force and decided attend college and study computers. He earned a degree in computer science and went to work as a computer operator at a bank. That job proved less than satisfactory and Flowers decided to “find a job I enjoyed going to.” He mentioned to his long-time friend, Deacon Ruscheinsky, that he was looking for other employment. “I told him if he ever had any openings to give me a call.”

It wasn’t long before Deacon Ruscheinsky asked Flowers to come on board in the maintenance department. That was four years ago. Flowers worked his way up from there to become director of the center’s days of prayer, his previous job title. These have also grown in popularity, with an average attendance at about 40 persons. Flowers said he would like to see the average attendance increase to 60. (The Day of Prayer given by Father Victor Blazovich on Ash Wednesday drew over 120 people.) The Days of Prayer continue but now there are “Eves of Prayer” as well, for people unable to attend during the day.

Flowers explained his two-fold approach in promoting retreats and other events at the center. One he called “macro,” in which he works to get the word out to the public about the retreat center. “It really helps to have our name out there,” he said.

Flowers’ other approach is “micro,” focusing on individual retreats. That approach includes flyers and bulletin inserts to the parishes. He has also started visiting the parishes that have retreats scheduled. He accompanied Deacon Heafey on a visit to the parishes in Colton and Uniontown to promote their recent retreat.

While the retreat center is used mostly by Catholics and has a Catholic approach in its own programs, other groups also use the facility. Flowers said a Presbyterian women’s group comes each year, as do some of the African-American churches. The Episcopal Church also uses the center frequently. The retreat center is a popular place for college retreats, too.

The kinds of retreats given also vary, with many different styles to appeal to many different spiritualities. There are silent retreats, charismatic retreats, Marian retreats, even the barter retreat in the summer, which finds retreatants performing work in exchange for their retreat.

In all aspects of his promotions work, Flowers keeps in mind that his focus is “not to raise money but to bring people here.” He remembers his first retreat, “13 years ago when I was in the RCIA program at St. Peter Parish.”

He has benefitted from the retreat center in another way. Flowers and his wife, Young, live near the retreat center. Some years ago, Flowers said they would pack a meal and walk the two miles to the retreat center to eat supper. They would go down to the red house on the grounds and if no one was using it, they would eat on the deck, to watch the sun set or observe the deer that passed through the grounds.

He said they were asked once why they did that, and while their answer included the sunsets and the wildlife, the real reason was because “we knew we were on holy ground.”

Flowers’ idea about the retreat center being a place to find God is deeply focused around that thought. He said that priests and deacons are encouraged to make a retreat once a year and he thinks an annual retreat would be a good idea for lay people, too. And, he added, what better place to do it than Immaculate Heart Retreat Center?

Anyone wanting more information about the retreat center can call (509) 448-1224 or visit the web site.

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