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Bishop Deeley to celebrate Mass at Mizpah in Grand Isle on August 3

GRAND ISLE, Maine — “It’s a promise I made to God to build a place where people can go, a place to relax, to enjoy, especially for the sick of body or mind.”

The words of the late Richard Corbin, founder of the Mizpah retreat in Grand Isle, still ring true today as countless cancer victims and other individuals stricken with grief visit the grounds for solitude and peace.

Bishop Robert P. Deeley of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland will visit Mizpah on Friday, Aug. 3, to celebrate a special Mass at 1 p.m. (2 p.m. Canadian time). All are invited to attend.

Mizpah is located at 126 Doucette Road in Grand Isle. It is a non-profit organization that is open to the general public, free of charge. The retreat features 15 buildings, beautiful viewing sites, and nature walks through peaceful, wooded trails winding through 109 acres.

From May to October each year, thousands of people, including prayer groups and participants in large pilgrimages, visit the site. Mizpah is non-denominational, but includes Catholic influences such as a first Friday Mass celebrated during the summer months, as well as an outdoor, handicapped-accessible Way of the Cross.

Mizpah visitors can observe the 36-foot-long Cancer Survivor Wall, a cement commemoration of past and present cancer survivors; stroll through the Way of the Cross that encourages personal reflection and coping; fish a pond filled by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife for children and adults to enjoy; see over 20 flower gardens; stay at one of the retreat’s cabins; pray in the chapel; spend time in the welcome center; take in the many statues of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and others; and use the retreat’s golf carts to explore the trails.

Created in 1991, Mizpah means “helping another” in Hebrew.

The project began with the bulldozing of a large pond area and, over the years, land, buildings, and a pond were added.

Mizpah is a labor of love started by Richard Corbin and carried on by surviving family members. Corbin was diagnosed with advanced Hodgkin’s Disease at the age of 22 and was expected to survive less than a year. He died in 2015 at the age of 71.

“I made a promise with the High Almighty that if my life be spared for a little while longer I would build a place for cancer people to come to,” Corbin said before his death, “a place for cancer survivors and people in grief to come and reflect, meditate, console and be at peace with each other and enjoy the beauty nature has to offer.”  

For over 20 years, Corbin made a daily appearance at Mizpah and took care of the site’s day-to-day operations. His last wish was that his family take over Mizpah. Today, his brother, Roger, directs the site and other family members serve in various roles.

The retreat is funded through donations and the annual luminary walk fundraiser, which takes place the last Sunday in August. Hundreds of people participate in this event by purchasing candles in honor of loved ones, which are placed around Mizpah’s pond. Others purchase a name plate for a loved one to be permanently placed on the Cancer Survivor Wall.

“Dick (Richard) wanted to create a spiritual place for people in need to come to and to help them understand what they’re going through,” said Roger Corbin.

“Spiritual healing is very powerful and the feeling of not being alone as they go through these challenging times is very important in the healing process,” he said. “That’s the feeling you get at Mizpah.”

For more information or to support Mizpah with a donation, call (207) 316-3477, visit or send a check to Mizpah, P.O. Box 216, Grand Isle, ME 04746.  

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