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.
I hear comments from educators, “Easter is far too early this year.” Some years they welcome a long break in the month of April. This year they complain that the break occurs in March and the spring months of April and May loom long and demanding. But here at the Jesuit Center finally the winter has passed. The birds fill the dawn with their songs. Yes, the spring and summer months are one long stretch of retreats but these seasons beautify our Jesuit residence and enhance our hospitality while our visitors fill the house with their hopes and dreams.
Our troubled world continues to send out urgent calls for leaders who nourish their talents, learn from their weaknesses, respect others and join others together in noble causes. As we in our country stumble through another presidential election cycle and as our religious institutions struggle to have our voices heard, spiritual renewal in support of leadership remains an ever-present need. Programs at the Jesuit Center present Ignatian Spirituality not only as an avenue for individual peace but also as grounding for servant leadership.
The Center offers a variety of programs for spiritual growth and hosts also retreat programs sponsored by high schools, colleges, individual churches and ecumenical groups. During the month of March, for example, over 400 men and women will be involved in overnight programming here.
We Jesuit residents of the Center and our Spiritual Growth Center staff are especially grateful for our friends who continue to support our mission with their prayers, their financial gifts and their encouragement. May these seasons of spring and summer enrich us all and keep us alert to God’s work in our lives.
A Message From Our Jesuit Superior
The mission of the Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth at Wernersville is two-fold – prayer and hospitality. Those two wider goals are realized in four principal ways:
1. research, spiritual direction and training for the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius by our Spiritual Growth staff;
2. the Center’s hosting of programs for Catholic and other religious non-profit groups from both the local and wider mid-Atlantic areas;
3. the provision by our staff for a variety of Ignatian-based programs for many of the apostolic works of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus as well as those of our own Allentown diocese;
4. the prayer of the senior Jesuits residing at Wernersville for the Society and the Catholic Church as well as pastoral ministry offered by Jesuits at the Center not only for our retreatants but also for local parishes as well.
The Center’s mission is carried out not only through the work of the administrative and spiritual growth staffs but also by the many persons working in health care, housekeeping, food service, maintenance, building and grounds services.
George W. Bur, SJ
Superior of the Jesuit Center