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.
Nearly fifty years ago, our founder, Fr. George J. Schemel, SJ, attended a meeting to discuss the future of the Novitiate of St. Isaac Jogues in Wernersville, PA. George later related what happened at that meeting:
On the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi (October 4, 1969), I drove to Wernersville. All the important men of the Maryland Province were there. Everyone at the table agreed it should be closed. And there was a long silence. Finally I spoke and said quietly, “This is where I learned to pray.” Another person at the table ventured, “This is where I learned about religious life,” and another recalled what he had learned here. And so it went around the table. Wernersville was a house of bread. Each of us had acquired something, learned something of such spiritual importance to religious life that we were not willing to let the place go.
From that moment of insight an experiment was born, the Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth. The experiment has proven to be resoundingly successful, as countless women and men, lay people, clergy and vowed religious, of every Christian denomination, have been nourished by this “house of bread,” growing in their relationship with God and spreading the graces of their growth into the world.
As we move through this spring, there are signs of renewed life all around us. The grounds are recovering from the winter cold and a severe windstorm, the house is being spruced up for the busy spring and summer season of directed retreats, and innovative programs such as the Ignatian Schola’s Guided Lenten Retreat and the University of Scranton Alumni Retreat have brought many new people to the Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth. We've announced our program calendar for 2019, and I am sure you will find something here to nourish your spirit. Come join us at this “house of bread”!
Christopher Derby, SJ, Executive Director
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