Associate Director, Manresa Jesuit Retreat House, Bloomfield Hills
Photographed by Brett Mountain
Meet Steve Raymond, the newly appointed associate director at Manresa Jesuit Retreat House in Bloomfield Hills. Raymond was born and raised in Kalamazoo and taught middle school there. He joined the Peace Corps in 1973 and was assigned to Sierra Leone, West Africa, for three years. From there, he obtained a law degree from University of Detroit Mercy and married his wife, Susan. Together they have two children, Sarah and Michael.
Raymond spent more than 35 years practicing business transactional and litigation law in Bloomfield Hills with the law firms of May, Simpson & Strote and Butzel Long. He has been part of the Manresa community for many years, attending daily Mass in their chapel, participating regularly in weekend retreats and volunteering in numerous capacities.
“My new vocation involves mainly the business side of Manresa,” he says. “I will work with the staff and oversee all of the operations to ensure that we stay on budget. I will also be responsible for writing articles for our publications addressing life issues from the perspective of Jesuit spirituality.”
For Raymond, working at Manresa is a way to come full circle and combine his career with his passion and beliefs.
“Practicing law is often very difficult. Things can become unpleasant and emotions can run high. For me, the teachings of the Jesuits helped me get to the core of who I really am and adapt to that. Manresa offers a silent retreat — a place where you can go to clear your head and reflect on who you are as a person and discover how you fit into God’s plan.”
Industry changes: Jesuit spiritualty has been around since the 1500s and offers the same insights into one’s life today as it did then. Retreats are now open to men and women. Historically, they were available only to men. Due to cultural changes, people seem less inclined to get involved in institutional religions. They seem to have less time to relax and reflect and are very focused on their careers and other things. Technology and social media have hastened the pace of life, seemingly leaving no time for reflection. Our mission at Manresa is to grow people’s awareness of how a relationship with our Maker can change their hectic lives into meaningful and fulfilling relationships with their family members, friends and acquaintances. Spending time in prayer and silence with the Other changes people’s lives.
Professionally speaking: I love people and finding out what makes them tick. I’ve found over the years that the spirituality of the Jesuits gets to the core of that question, so I make it a point to listen, be present to and learn what matters in people’s lives. Over the years, I’ve been on the boards of several nonprofit organizations and have met others who share a similar passion for helping others. I’ve found that when I focus on others instead of myself, I benefit immensely.
Proudest career accomplishment: In my legal career, it was providing legal counsel for 21 years to the franchise moving company Two Men and a Truck International. It has been a special relationship. Making a career change and transitioning to Manresa is another thing I’m proud of. It is giving me a chance to use my legal skills in ways I haven’t before, and that’s very rewarding.
Career thoughts: As a lawyer, my spirituality has helped me immensely. I was able to step back and learn how to litigate and interact with opposing counsel in a respectful way. Once I did that, practicing law became much more enjoyable for me. It was a growing experience and an important stepping stone in my career.
Passion for: Learning. Manresa offers a diverse community of people who have a special relationship with God, from whom I’ve learned much. I also like to read, mainly nonfiction. Often, this is a way to see a different side of things or learn about something new or unfamiliar. Hiking and traveling are other things I love. I’ve spent some time in the western part of the country, and two years ago friends and I hiked 24 miles across the Grand Canyon. Being outdoors gives me a chance to marvel at our creation and take it all in. That’s a big part of learning, too.
Life in Oakland County: I love the diversity of the people. This area is filled with entrepreneurs and creative people. It’s a vibrant place with a lot of greenery, which makes it a great place to relax and enjoy your surroundings. It’s just a great dynamic and I love being a part of it.
Favorite place to hang out: We like to go to different restaurants around town. Streetside, Bill’s, the Beverly Hills Grill and ML’s are a few of our favorites. We love exploring the many new restaurants cropping up in Detroit as well. Other than that, we like to spend time in the backyard with friends, having a glass of wine and grilling some food. It doesn’t get much better than that.
My perfect day: Every day is perfect. I’m not trying to be trite or phony — I’m just open to new experiences and challenges, which may make today more perfect than yesterday. Whatever the day, however, it’s always more perfect when I’m with my wife and kids.
What most people don’t know about me: I can be sappy at times. I have a tendency to get emotional or sentimental for certain kinds of movies or TV programs. I can’t help but tear up if the story touches me in a certain way. NS
— Interviewed by Matthew Totsky