Fr. Robert M. Hussey, SJ, the Provincial of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus, has decided to close the Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth, effective August 2021. Fr. Hussey announced his decision on 29 May 2020 in a letter to the Province. You may read Fr. Hussey’s letter, accompanying FAQs, and Br. Derby’s letter of response here.
While we are sorrowful at the decision, we are focused on the remaining time of ministry here in Wernersville. As much as possible in this pandemic, the Jesuit Center will be offering retreats, days of prayer, and other programs for spiritual renewal, and hosting groups, through August 2021. You can see our 2020-2021 program calendar here.
As we are all too aware, this time of the COVID-19 pandemic has swept over us, a protracted disaster with all sorts of attendant challenges: the shutting-down of our workplaces, schools, and communal activities; the sheltering in place, with its isolation or its overdose of togetherness; and the loss, the terrible toll the virus is taking on people’s livelihoods, their health, and their very lives. Many of us know these losses intimately—family members who are out of work, children who are missing out on performances, sporting events, and milestone events, older friends and relatives who have been seriously ill or who have died from the virus. Those of us sheltering with family or community members are the lucky ones, for we all know people who live alone or in senior living facilities under quarantine. As the weeks drag on, all of us can feel the drain on our spiritual energy. Where is hope to come from?
Here at the Jesuit Center, we are sort of “in the business” of helping folks find hope and spiritual energy. It is our customary privilege and joy to accompany people, singly and in groups, as they make their way through the landscape of life with its ups and downs, joys and challenges, laughter and tears. The early days of the pandemic really put our ministry to the test: How can we carry on our spiritual ministry while we are closed and our wider community is sheltering in place? We have been answering that question as best as we can, tentatively at first, and lately with slowly increasing assurance. The Jesuit Community residing here and our lay staff sheltering in their homes continue our constant prayer for all of you. We use our email, voicemail, website, and social media to communicate with you, answer your questions, re-schedule your retreats, and offer you this series of reflections as we pray through these days. What about spiritual accompaniment—ongoing direction and directed retreats—in these days of great need?
Br. Chris Derby, SJ
As Certain as the Dawn | May 13, 2020
And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins. (Mark 2:22)
George W. Bur, SJ