Montreal Continued… 

After participating in several STIR retreats with the Toronto team to become comfortable in leading our own retreats, the Montreal men’s team hosted their first retreat November 2023.  The group was comprised of new and experienced facilitators and several men who had 3-8 months of sobriety.  The response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic: the STIR experience, focused on deepening relationship with one’s Higher Power, is unique in Quebec.  It fulfilled a longing, to engage more spirituality in their recovery journey, that many participants felt but could not express before coming on retreat. The team was very encouraged and energized by the feedback and another men’s retreat is planned for March 2024.  The women’s team will host its first retreat in April 2024.

STIR retreats have quickly become an important part of the Villa Saint-Martin’s mission – the retreat house where the retreats are offered.  Following in Toronto’s footsteps, we hope to offer every retreatant quality time to connect with their Higher Power in the safe, non-judgemental space that STIR Retreats are known to provide.

The STIR-Montreal team had its first information session to recruit volunteers in October 2021… right in the middle of the COVID pandemic. While the pandemic constrained the team’s ability to hold retreats, it did not keep the team from organizing “Open Houses”, to recruit volunteers. Three formation weekend retreats were held at the Villa Saint-Martin to train our retreat facilitators and we now have a group of 15 trained volunteers who are ready to lead retreats.

Expanding STIR Retreats to Montreal has required adapting it to the Quebec context. The retreat materials were updated to better reflect the spiritual approach most commonly used by individuals living in Quebec.  Because the sober living housing options differ from those in Toronto, new and creative approaches were taken to recruit both facilitators and retreatants.  And of course, the retreats must be offered in both official languages. Our goal is to offer four retreats a year to both men and women, two in English and two in French.