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A life-changing week for the Fox family

Bill FoxBy Bill Fox/Columnist

It started quietly enough as my two youngest boys wanted to join me at a weekend retreat at Manresa for my recent birthday. Now Manresa, if you are not familiar with it, is a Jesuit-run facility at the end of Liverpool Road in Pickering. It is a quiet (as in silent) escape from the worries and concerns of modern day life.

While run by the Jesuit order (the same as Pope Francis), it welcomes people of all persuasions to its natural, quiet setting. My father and I used to go here once a year when I was younger, and my father-in-law was recognized by Manresa for participating in retreats for 50 consecutive years. You can find more about them online at

On the Saturday afternoon, my youngest, Jonathan, and I had to leave Manresa for an hour to pick up a parcel from FedEx that was being held at their warehouse in Markham. When we got it, my son told me it was a gift for his partner of several years. From the size of the box, it looked as though it could hold a dress or a sweater, etc. He opened it, only to discover inside was another large box, only slightly smaller than the original. Well-packed I thought. Opening the second box, revealed a very small black box, and inside this was an engagement ring to be presented to Jon’s partner on the Monday night in Montreal. I was taken by surprise, but very, very happy that after more than five years together, the official commitment was to be formalized. Well, as long as she said yes, and thankfully late Monday, she did.

Now Thursday of that week was Jonathan’s birthday, and as fate would have it (or was it a God-incidence), near Vancouver, that same day our eldest son and his beautiful wife, welcomed into the world Walker Thomas, and Charlotte Elaine, little brother and sister to Isabelle, almost 10 and Willow nearly 2! What a great day to be celebrated for years and years to come.

On Friday, I drove Jon and Renee, (of the music group The Standstills fame) to Pearson to join my second son, Michael, to venture forth to Zimbabwe to meet the child they had sponsored through World Vision. Michael works for World Vision and had suggested to The Standstills that during their recent cross-Canada tour they could encourage their audiences to also consider sponsoring children through World Vision. So it was that in a pause at each concert, people were encouraged to visit the World Vision booths in the facility and consider sponsorship. More than 100 people became sponsors during that tour. All of the young children were from the same region of Zimbabwe that The Standstills were now visiting.

These three, along with several others, toured this area of Africa for 10 days, visiting schools and projects, such as fresh water wells, that Canadians had helped to build. Jon and Renee had the opportunity of meeting their sponsored child, Ayanda. Along the way, they posted little film clips on Facebook of the school children welcoming them and accepting small musical gifts for their schools such as boom whacker music tubes, etc, as well as listening to the very musical children. They also had a chance to perform a few impromptu songs for their hosts. As my sons mentioned on their posts, this was a life-changing experience.

I can only speculate about how much they will have a greater appreciation for being Canadian and for wanting to further help and bring attention to the less fortunate children they visited in Africa.

So in one spectacular week, twins are born to the Fox Family, an engagement is formalized, and new relationships that are life changing have been initiated and cultivated. In my family, this was a very hope-filled week.