In a letter dated 29 May 2020, the Provincial of the former Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus announced his decision to close the Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth, effective August 2021. You may read the Provincial’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. The Jesuit Center will continue to offer retreats and other programs for spiritual renewal, and to host groups, through August 2021. You can see our 2021 program calendar here.
In the years 1927 and 1928 an exploding Catholic population in the Maryland - New York Province was creating a need for an administrative split to produce two provinces. Along with that decision was the necessity of an additional novitiate for the training of novices. Pennsylvania was a good location for the school that was to teach and form Jesuits of the Maryland Province. During this time, the prevailing Jesuit training concept was to remove novices from the mainstream and educate them in an idyllic, secluded setting. Attracted by Wernersville’s rail lines, beautiful topography, and health resorts, the Jesuits selected the Mary Gaul Homestead in Lower Heidelberg Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania, as the site for the new project.
The buildings and grounds of the Jesuit Community near Wernersville were the gift of Nicholas and Genevieve Brady, close friends and benefactors of the Jesuit Community of the Maryland – New York Province. Nicholas was one of the great financial powers of his day and used his great wealth for philanthropy. Devout Catholics, Mr. and Mrs. Brady took an active interest in the planning and design
of the new center.
Nothing was spared in the construction of the Wernersville facility. The Novitiate Building was designed by the noted Boston architecture firm of McGinnis and Walsh in the English Renaissance style. Maginnis and Walsh were among the premier ecclesiastical designers of their day. Funded by Mr. and Mrs. Brady at an estimated cost of $2 million, the Novitiate featured carved oak, marble, coffered ceilings, and ornate details executed by European and local craftsmen. Construction on the “house” began in 1928.
History of the Novitiate of St. Isaac Jogues
About Us | History
The buildings and grounds of the Jesuit Community near Wernersville were the gift of Nicholas and Genevieve Brady,
close friends and benefactors of the
Jesuit Community of the Maryland –
New York Province