Our Maine Street's Aroostook Issue 25 : Summer 2015 - Page 19

in the convent. The sisters taught in the convent until 1951 when it was deemed not up to code for a school. The town of Frenchville stepped in and built the Bailey School (renamed the Dr. Lévesque Elementary School) across the street next to the church. Originally, staff and student lunches were served in the St. Luce parish hall. When the hall burned in 1965, the town added a wing to the school to serve as a gymnasium and cafeteria. The sisters continued teaching at the school until 1980 when the convent closed. Despite the sisters’ departure from the parish, the school’s elementary students are still afforded an opportunity for religious education during the school day. Students wishing to are excused from classes for an hour each week to attend religious instruction at the church. Stubbornness and adaptability once again prevail. The former convent is now the Christian Life Center. Even though you may not want to attend a retreat, you should stop by the CLC, the church and the adjoining cemetery. The CLC gift shop and chapel are open to the public and Judy Lavoie, the center’s secretary, will welcome you with enthusiasm and charm. It is hard to resist her gentle push to consider a retreat. A visit to the parish will not disappoint you. The drive is beautiful, the people are friendly and your visit will reward you with an appreciation of Aroostook County’s resilience. The Christian Life Center is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays. St. Luce Catholic Church is open every day. Established in the early 1970’s as part of the Portland diocese’s attempt to reach out to Catholics, the original Christian Life Center, commonly known at the CLC, was located in Caribou; by 1980 the Caribou space was no longer adequate for the program’s needs. When Father George Adams learned the convent in Upper Frenchville was for sale, he obtained permission from the bishop to move the CLC to the former convent. Thirty-five years later, the Christian Life Center continues its mission. Programs at the CLC range from retreats for youth to marriage encounter weekends. Each year the center offers at least six retreats: two women’s, two men’s, a marriage retreat and a teen retreat. They range from one day to several days, depending on the program. Although based on the Catholic faith, one does not have to be Catholic to attend a retreat. In fact, several women at the ACTS retreat I recently attended are not Catholic. Not unique to Frenchville, other parishes in Maine and other states have similar programs. However, most of them do not have a dedicated building and therefore must conduct their retreats at hotels. While a hotel with all the amenities may sound more luxurious than staying in an early 20th century convent, a dedicated space away from the distractions of the world is much more beneficial for the retreatants. The location and atmosphere of the CLC make it an inimitable venue for reflection and learning. Everything you need is there – beds, showers, great meals, a chapel, meeting rooms, and scenic views. The CLC in Frenchville accords retreatants an opportunity to reflect, grow, and learn. SUMMER 2015 17