Sister Monica Murphy, CSJ, describes Pyramid Life Center as the “the best kept secret in the Diocese.”

And that might seem funny because it’s an 800-acre diocesan retreat center — the only one in the Diocese — located on Pyramid Lake in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains. 

“Every time I go anywhere, I always start by saying I am the ­director of Pyramid Life Center, (but) this is your place; you own it,” said Sister Monica, who is in her 33rd year as director. “It’s the only diocesan retreat center. You own it; it’s to your advantage.”

Many people, groups, colleges and parishes already have, as this year’s schedule is already loaded. Everything kicks off on Memorial Day weekend (May 25-28), when volunteers help prepare the camp for the summer. Then it’s off and running until Columbus Day weekend (Oct. 11-14) when the camp is shut down for the winter.

The property was originally bought by the Albany Diocese to serve as a girls’ summer camp called Marian Lodge. It evolved into “Pyramid Lake Camp” in 1977 when the accompanying boys’ camp merged with it. A decade later, Pyramid Life Center was born, offering faith-based retreats and outdoor activities.

Parishes have been instrumental in the success of the place.

“What we tried to do to offset the loss of retreats is to take on parishes and the community… (we get) communities of parishes within themselves, which is wonderful to see.”

Volunteers have been instrumental in making the center run. Sister Monica said if they needed loggers to cut down trees, it’s volunteers. Last year, volunteers helped install 32 toilets.

“I attribute all (the success) to the volunteers; it’s totally maintained by volunteers,” she said. “For the most part, the camp is run by teenagers so they have ownership. And this year, for the first time, a child of one of those people that worked there will be on staff.

“We have never done a fundraiser, to go out and beg for money. My philosophy has always been there’s so many poor people, so many people without food and housing, this is extra. If you can’t afford to come, come for nothing, I don’t care if you pay or not," she added.

So don’t you think it’s time that you and your family experienced “the best kept secret in the Diocese?”

“We try to make it suit the needs of the people,” Sister Monica said. “It’s a life center, anything that would bring life.”