Catholic Free Press

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Holy Cross buys West Boylston property

Posted By September 12, 2014 | 11:31 am | Lead Story #3
Photo by Father Paul J. Tougas
The view from Goodale Street property slated to become retreat center for College of the Holy Cross.
Photo by Father Paul J. Tougas The view from Goodale Street property slated to become retreat center for College of the Holy Cross.

By Father Paul J. Tougas
Special to The CFP

The College of the Holy Cross has purchased a 54-acre estate in West Boylston for use as a retreat center to accommodate the college’s burgeoning retreat program. The property was purchased on July 11 for $1.7 million, according to public records.
The retreat movement is a growing part of the Catholic college scene throughout the country, according to Paul Covino, longtime associate chaplain and director of liturgy at Holy Cross. He is to become director of campus ministry at Assumption College Oct. 1.        Holy Cross will be the 11th Jesuit college (out of 28) in the United States to have its own retreat facility, Mr. Covino said. For example, Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., purchased land and built a center; and Boston College purchased St. Stephen’s Priory from the Dominican Order in Dover in 2004.
Retreats are well-known to be a Jesuit tradition. Saint Ignatius of Loyola penned the 30-day Spiritual Exercises in the years 1522-24 and they have become classics of spiritual formation and development.
The West Boylston property, called Stonebridge, is located at 1000 Goodale St. and is set back from the road. There is a gated entrance and several buildings on the site. It is a heavily wooded site where there is room for hiking and walking trails and horse paths. There are sweeping views of Wachusett Reservoir, Mount Wachusett and even the Boston skyline, a real estate agency description of the property states.
The retreat center, as yet unnamed, will be for the exclusive use of Holy Cross students and chaplains, unlike the Boston College Connors Center which is rented to others, Mr. Covino said.
The college offers three kinds of retreats, according to its website. There is an overnight retreat called “Escape” for first-year students; a weekend called “Manresa,” after a place associated with Saint Ignatius, and an adapted Spiritual Exercises, a five-day silent retreat. Some 600 students made an overnight retreat last year and nine retreats are scheduled for this year, said Marybeth Kearns-Barrett, director of the Office of Chaplains. Currently the college uses a variety of retreat houses throughout New England, but they are becoming scarcer. The Diocese of Providence recently sold Our Lady of Peace in Narragansett, R.I., and the Passionists closed Calvary Retreat Center in Shrewsbury a couple of years ago.