In 1927, the world had become a pretty amazing place. Lindbergh had flown over the Atlantic and Admiral Byrd had flown over the North Pole. There were transatlantic telephone calls and even movies that talked. All this “progress” had a way of distracting people away from God and so it was with the idea of bringing men and women back to God that the Redemptorists began the retreat movement in Oconomowoc.
During the summer of 1927, the Knights of Columbus from Beaver Dam began the retreat movement with a good crowd of 41 men and Father Polk, a veteran Redemptorist missionary, led the conferences. Through the combined efforts of the Redemptorists and support from the Catholic laity throughout southeastern Wisconsin, the retreat movement grew.
In 1960 the Redemptorists announced that with the enrollment of 116 seminarians due in the fall, there would be no rooms for the retreat program in the seminary. A new facility needed to be found. The Redemptorists purchased part of the former General Otto H. Falk estate on Crooked Lake for this purpose. Retreats started in the fall of 1961. The estate was remodeled and the construction of a building with 58-rooms was completed to house retreatants. The first retreat in the new retreat center building was held on October 12, 1963. That weekend, 91 retreatants renewed their love for God. The center was dedicated in honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.
After so many years of preaching lay retreats in Oconomowoc, the Redemptorists continue to remain true to the spirit of Saint Alphonsus by this apostolate. In turn, a very large number of men and women over the years have searched and discovered a connection with God in this place of peace.