By Father Paul J. Tougas
The College of the Holy Cross has announced that the $22 million Thomas P. Joyce Contemplation Center will open in mid-September.
“This is the fruition of a dream we have long desired in the chaplain’s office,” wrote Marybeth Kearns-Barrett, director of the Office of Chaplains in an email to alumni.
The center is located in West Boylston on a 56-acre estate that overlooks and has sweeping views of the Wachusett Reservoir. The announcement was made on July 31, the feast of St Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits and himself a prime mover in the retreat movement. The Jesuits founded and teach at Holy Cross.
The executive secretary to the president, Ms. Lori Blackwell noted, “We are all very excited about this. The president has been to the new facility several times with various groups.”
Announced at the same time was a full years’ retreat schedule for alumni, students, and even marriage preparation weekends for weddings taking place at St Joseph’s Chapel. The marriage prep is also open to alumni getting married elsewhere. These engagement weekends meet the requirements of pre-Cana for the Diocese of Worcester. There are retreats for alumni, spouses, faculty, men’s and woman’s weekends, an Advent Day of Prayer, a weekend retreat for Protestant alumni, and a weekend for alumni members of the LGBTQ community, according to information from the college
There are specific Ignatian retreats including a 5-day adapted Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius.
Retreat speakers are from the Office of Chaplains and from members of the Jesuit Community. Retreat time is scheduled around structured programs and times of silence and reflection. The grounds offer wooded pathways for solitary time. Mass is offered as part of most retreats. (This in reference to Thomas Joyce’s days at Holy Cross when daily Mass was required of all students. He was a member of the Sanctuary Society which meant he served those morning Masses. )
The retreat movement is a strong part of the ministry at Holy Cross and at other Catholic colleges. Catholic colleges are buying or building facilities for retreats. The Mount St. James college has been using other retreat centers, often many miles away. Many of those are closing. The West Boylston facility is a 20-minute drive from the Worcester campus.
Pictures of the new facility show buildings in a rustic brown wood exterior complementing the site with windows and glass expanses opening up the views. There will be a chapel and dining and kitchen facilities and private rooms with bath to accommodate 60 people. The average cost of a weekend is set at $180, according to the college.
Given that the full retreat schedule already announced, the College of the Holy Cross is planning to make good and full use of this new contemplation center. It is also a welcome asset to the Worcester area and the many Holy Cross alumni living here.
Thomas P. Joyce, ’59 was from New Rochelle, N.Y. and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. His two sons and four daughters all graduated from Holy Cross and they have made this gift in his memory. Mr. Joyce died in 2004. His mother Catherine, also a friend of the college, died in 2005 at 93.