Major renovations to “The Lodge”

As seen from Shellerina on the Mississippi River late Wednesday.

One of Ray’s most meaningful and inspiring places on the planet is The Lodge at La Vista in Godfrey IL. This wood and stone structure looks west from high on the bluffs right on the edge of the Mississippi River.

Almost forty years ago, Ray spent countless hours writing, reading, observing sunsets, severe weather, wildlife, stars, and large tows on the Mississippi River below, from this venue.

Sr. Maxine Pohlmann SSND gave Shelly and I an updated tour of The Lodge and the grounds at this special retreat and Novitiate for the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

Sister Max is the Director of the La Vista Ecological Learning Center also on these grounds. (FMI:


About 36 years ago, Ray and 20 other young men lived on these grounds for a full year as “novices” in preparation for a life in the ministry. Several persevered, like Father Jack Lau OMI, who returned here as a Novitiate STAFF member a few years ago!

Ideally, our Great Loop adventure would have happened while Jack was still here! But he got us in touch with Sister Max, who loves this place as much as Jack and I, and she did a great job getting my endearing memories refreshed! It was also a special visit for Shelly as she knows my time with the Oblates was a big part of my life for 3 years before she and I met, married, started our family with Nick, and now, of course, are on our new life afloat!

Above, Sister Max shows off the spectacular view from La Vista… Just 24 hours earlier, Shellerina passed on this river below en route to Alton Marina from points north.

Below, she and Shelly pause for a pic on the long (newly paved!) road in.

After our tour of La Vista, it was time for us to give Sister Max a tour of our home, the Shellerina!

Thank you Sister Max for your ministry and for a memorable few hours at this very special place on the Mississippi River.

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