The story of how Our Lady of Grace Catholic Retreat Center came to be
It began in the late nineties with an “encounter” which led to a conversion. Glenn Collum attended a Marian Conference in Wichita with his wife, Laura, a devout Catholic. Glenn’s heart was moved as he joined others in praying to our Blessed Mother, and it was through his prayers that a relationship began to develop, and Mary began leading him closer to her Son. Very gently. Glenn knew he wanted more…
Upon arriving back home after the Conference, Glenn and Laura continued seeking Mary in a very special way. They began praying a weekly Rosary with Laura’s Mother, Maxine, at her beautiful homestead in the woods. Surrounded by nature and the love of God, the seed that had been planted at the Conference began to grow. “Build a place for my people to pray.” Glenn recalls that he didn’t actually “hear” the voice of God, but he couldn’t deny the unmistakable invitation. “Build a place…
Fast forward several years. Prayer increased, relationships deepened, and the invitation became more of a “knowing.” Somehow, someday, somewhere… Glenn knew he was being called to build a place for God’s people to come to rest, to pray, and to experience the silence and solitude the human soul yearns for. Meanwhile, Glenn heard the call to the Diaconate, and on May 26, 2007, Glenn was ordained a Deacon for the Diocese of Tulsa, OK. Over time the invitation to “build a place” became undeniable, yet the “when, where and how,” was not immediately revealed. Deacon Glenn continued to pray, to discern, and to seek God’s Will in this matter.
In 2019, doors began to open. Betsy McNeil, a longtime family friend formerly from Stillwater but currently living in Arkansas, began coming to Stillwater once a month to serve St. Francis Xavier as a Spiritual Director. Meanwhile, a friendship forged on family, faith and Black Angus cattle was quickly renewed and it wasn’t long before the Collums and McNeil began having serious discussions about building a Catholic Retreat Center. When a 300-acre cattle ranch on Fairgrounds Road became available, Deacon Glenn purchased the land and invited Betsy to become a part of his dream and vision.
It was during one of the discussions that always began with a prayer to the Blessed Mother that the name “Our Lady of Grace” was heard. Deacon Glenn, Laura and Betsy all felt Jesus wanted the Retreat Center to be a place of prayer for His people, as well as named in honor of His Mother. Mary in turn, wants a place of silence, solitude and stillness for her children so they can develop a deeper relationship with her Son.
Once the land was secured and preliminary architect plans drawn, Deacon Glenn and Laura met with Bishop Konderla for his approval. Next came the blessing of the property which by then included an additional 3-bedroom home named after St. Joseph (since prayers to the Saint resulted in the acquisition of the 10 acres adjacent to the original site giving needed road access to the land).
Once a builder was selected, the property cleared, roads built, and utilities set, construction on the massive project began in earnest. So did the Spiritual warfare. But with God in control, even through Covid, the people involved remained prayerful and steadfast and construction continued in spite of numerous obstacles and delays.
In January 2022, Loren and Judene Kuszak moved to Stillwater to join the team. Loren, a former Sam’s Club manager, will serve as Director of Operations. Judene, a former Parish Manager at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Rogers, AR, will serve as Administrator. Both have a strong background in parish ministry and church operations.
Nestled in the midst of the Red Plains of Oklahoma, Our Lady of Grace Catholic Retreat Center is set to open May 2023. And so in keeping with our Vision, we “Invite God’s Children to come… To be still and to know that I AM God.” Psalm 46:10.