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Phone 613 473 2679
Our old tractor, hidden among the trees
A close-up of a beautiful fungus, deep in the forest


In 2001, having experienced first-hand some ways in which the life of poverty, Eucharist, and family have taken flesh both in Toronto and in other parts of the country and the world, Mary Marrocco received the blessing of Pascal Pingault (founder of the community Pain de Vie) to begin a new community life. Accompanied by others who encouraged her in her dream, she established a charitable organization which began a search for a generous, beautiful acreage which could become a refuge for those in need. After three years of intensive search and prayer, supported by donors both financial and spiritual, the property was found and purchased in July 2004: 260 acres of woods, trees, peace and beauty, with the Black River running through it. Situated about halfway between Toronto and Ottawa, just north of the Trans-Canada highway, it is meant to be an inn like that to which the Good Samaritan took his injured friend, a place of life and work, refuge and healing.

In November 2004, the small house on the property caught fire due to a natural accident, and burned to the ground in about 40 minutes. Fundraising ensued! As did time spent on the land, winter and summer. In October 2006, building of a new house began. In May 2007, the new house was officially opened.

Part of the experience of St. Mary of Egypt is to see the connection between conservation and recycling, proper eating, exercise, fresh air, healthy foods, and the environment, and to see that these things all improve one's personal health and life quality. Participants really work with the land; they have planted, weeded, raked and reaped. Our goal is to have a greenhouse to grow some of our own food and help educate children and adults about the organic growing of food, and to learn to keep bees, chickens and other animals. We also plan to keep our undeveloped land as a sanctuary, where children and adults can learn about local flora and fauna and the natural life cycle.

Healing comes through presence with God, one another, nature, and ourselves. We know we are not the Healer. We know the Healer is among us.

Time at the Refuge roots us more deeply in the rural community; helps us create a sense of community among rural youth and families; brings city people into a rural setting for a greater appreciation of nature, and how conservation, recycling, proper food and care for the planet can enhance their own lives and their contribution to the larger community; creates a sense of community among urban and rural youth; provides opportunity for people with physical and mental disability to find a sense of peace and greater connection with the environment; helps city youth discover their own spirituality through befriending nature.

The constant response to time spent at the Refuge is, especially for people coming from the city, that at first they are scared (of nature, of silence); but people begin to befriend the natural space around them, and then start to feel enjoyment and appreciation of what they are mostly denied during their ordinary lives, and wish they could stay longer. The beauty of the landscape allows for diverse and needy people to come together, and find enjoyment in one another. Some deep personal inner work has begun, and continues for those who become involved in the community.

©2024 St. Mary of Egypt Refuge • Queensborough, Ontario, Canada • Phone 613 473 2679 • Facebook