Nestled at the foot of Camelback Mountain, the Mount Claret Retreat Center stands as oasis of sorts in the midst of a bustling city. Tom McGuire, the new director of the facility, is hoping more and more Catholics will seek God’s presence there.
“There’s something special here,” McGuire said. “There’s definitely a true presence of the Holy Spirit that’s pretty powerful up here that almost every group experiences in a special way.”
McGuire was hired as the associate director in 2009 and was recently named director by Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted. Before managing the retreat center, he spent nearly 30 years in the corporate world, but his real passion, he said, has always been serving the Church.
“I really think my earlier life was all formation to be here at Mount Claret,” he said. At the parish level, McGuire served as a lector and extraordinary minister, chairman of the building and maintenance committee, a member of the construction committee, the chairman of the parish council, and spent 13 years as chairman of the annual fundraiser.
Fundraising and development are a major part of his job managing the day-to-day operations of Mount Claret, which is unique in that it is a facility-based retreat center. Groups that utilize the center are responsible for bringing in and preparing the food as well as presenting the retreat program.
Several organizations use Mount Claret’s facilities for meetings, luncheons, dinners and one-time events. The Serra Club, Christ Child Society and Legatus are examples of groups that meet there regularly.
The former ranch and resort was acquired by the Claretian Fathers in 1963 and for years was known as the Cursillo Center. In 1988, the Diocese of Phoenix purchased the property and began renovations.
“This is the retreat center that serves the Diocese of Phoenix,” McGuire said, noting that many different organizations, such as Barrios Unidos and Cursillo, hold their retreats at Mount Claret.
McGuire said one of his priorities for the future of the retreat center will be to enhance the Stations of the Cross and update the chapel.
He hopes to add seating at each of the Stations as well as shade and make the presentation of the Passion of Christ more dramatic.
He also plans to update some of the dormitories on site and reclaim a building that is currently unused.
Mass for the public is celebrated at 10 a.m. Sundays and adoration takes place 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Wednesday. Four retired priests live at Mount Claret and the Crosier Fathers regularly use the facility for their liturgies.