Fr. Matthew Robbertz, above, said that only a decade ago the Regina Mundi Centre in Queensville, Ont., was faced with the choice of closing or persevering in its mission due to a burgeoning debt. The latter option was chosen and the faith community came through to keep the centre open and thriving. Photos courtesy of Regina Mundi Centre

Regina Mundi Centre enjoying strong revival

  • September 10, 2018

In 2008, Regina Mundi Centre was on the brink of closure. 

The Magnificat Charismatic Prayer Community that helps run the retreat centre was half the membership it used to be. The facilities were under constant repair. And then there were the mortgage, insurance and hydro bills. Spiritual director Fr. Matthew Robbertz was faced with two choices: close the retreat centre or persevere it. 

“It was a big, big challenge,” he said. “We were sitting here with a group of people with big repairs and big, big costs and debts. We were faced with a big choice. The sale would just cover the debt…. But they were so committed to their apostolate.”

For 10 years, the retreat centre struggled with debt. But today, Regina Mundi stands tall and Robbertz said the community owes it all to the Divine Mercy. 

The 92-acre retreat centre is located in Queensville, Ont., about an hour and a half drive from Toronto. One of the main features of the property is an oratory or small chapel that was built with a large replica of the Divine Mercy image, inspired by a vision witnessed by St. Maria Faustina Kowalska in 1931. The Divine Mercy shrine was officially inaugurated on July 1, 2003. 

As bills began to stack up, Robbertz and the lay community of the Magnificat turned to their faith to get through the hard times. 

“We thank God because to us, God is really at work here,” he said. “When you had to come up with a quarter of a million dollars (for repairs and bills), you would get it. That’s the money we needed to keep up with our tax bills…. This convinced us that God provides and God wants this place for His people.”

But the community also worked very hard to organize fundraisers throughout the years, from garage sales to dinner dances, concerts, raffles and auctions. The Magnificat community promoted retreats and pilgrimages to the shrine. They hosted weekly processions and Adoration five days a week. 

divine mercy regina mundi

The oratory with its large replica of the Divine Mercy image, one of the main features of the property. (Courtesy of Regina Mundi)

The Magnificat community is a lay charismatic prayer ministry with a mission to lead people to “a deeper Christian life in the power of the Holy Spirit.” 

The apostolate evolved from a Filipino prayer ministry called Buklod ng Mahal na Ina (The Fellowship of the Heart of the Mother) which was originally founded in 1987 with the military diocese of the Philippines. 

In 1990, the group embraced the charismatic movement and after a few name changes, they settled on the name Magnificat in 1997, after a canticle of Mary in the Gospel of Luke. 

Today, the group’s mission is centred around spreading the message of the Divine Mercy and Our Lady of Fatima. The apostolate community’s main mission is to be stewards and caretakers of Regina Mundi and the Divine Mercy shrine.

If the community fosters a faithful and holy atmosphere, the people will come, said Robbertz. 

“Groups from all over the archdiocese come here and we witness how very happy they are when they leave,” he said.

This is the first year, Robbertz said, the community can finally breathe a sigh of relief. 

“For the first time, we can pay our bills,” he said. “We just turned the corner and pretty soon groups are having to fight for space…. It used to be that we would have 10 or 12 groups visit in a year and this year we have about 50 so far and we have so much of the year to go.”

The retreat centre is booked almost every weekend and Robbertz said he is relieved the community can focus its energy on spreading the message of the Lord.

“Mercy is in every page of the Bible but does anybody see it? People are busy and distracted and we need to do some groundwork. (Divine Mercy), combined with Fatima, is a calling and invitation of Jesus for the people living in our time, for the end time. We need to be eternalized.”

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