Rooted in the Ignatian tradition, the Ignatian Spirituality Centre of Montreal, ISCM, encourages experiences of encounter, communion, interiority, accompaniment, and formation to help people discover their spiritual paths and to flourish.
“The Ignatian Spirituality Centre of Montreal is a place of exploration, a part of one’s spiritual journey and where God meets and leads each person,” says director of the ISCM, Father Kevin Kelly, SJ.
Founded by the Jesuits in 1913, the ISCM is now at two locations: Villa Saint-Martin, which is situated on the waterfront of the Lac des Deux-Montagnes at the western tip of the Island of Montreal, and the Wickham Centre centrally located in the heart of Montreal in the Maison Bellarmin at the corner of Jarry Street West and Boul. Saint-Laurent. In the summer of 2021, the two Ignatian spirituality centres came together to form a bilingual, ecumenical apostolate focused on spiritual formation and accompaniment as well as retreats for individual and groups for all people in Montreal and beyond.
Reaching out to anyone who is searching is the primary goal of the ISCM. “We welcome a variety of Christian organizations,” Kelly explains: “and see this ministry becoming a significant support for the Catholic Church of Montreal, its surrounding dioceses, as well as other Christian churches. There’s so much need to help engage clergy, pastoral associates, and religious communities that are getting older and maybe don’t have their own means of animating their own retreats.”
In terms of outreach to young adults, the ISCM has always had connections with the Newman Centre and Catholic Christian Outreach, and has begun to offer young people spiritual accompaniment and retreats. Some high school, including Loyola High School’s KAIROS student-led retreats, already take place as the Villa Saint-Martin and continue to look at expanding into more Catholic and public schools.
The aim is to reach not only people already familiar with Ignatian spirituality, but all people, from different faith traditions or with no religious affiliation. “A lot of the work we do is to help people to first understand where God is acting in their lives,” says Kelly. “We are trying to support spirituality as a discovery process for individuals using the tools that are core to Ignatian spirituality.”
The ISCM programs are unique and include reaching out to the marginalized in Montreal. They’ve partnered with Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) to offer retreats for newcomers to Canada as well as reaching out to people truly on the margins of society. Kelly has experience with this type of ambitious endeavor, he previously helped co-found the Canadian arm of the Ignatian Spirituality Project (ISP), now called STIR (Spiritual Transformation in Recovery) Retreats in Toronto, which offers spiritual aid to those experiencing homelessness and addiction. In Montreal, the ISCM is working with other religious communities to bring the ISP to Montreal.
Kelly says “We want to make retreats available to anybody. We can subsidize them and we really want to make this experience available to everybody who is wanting to explore their spirituality.”
For anyone visiting Villa Saint-Martin, it provides retreatants with an environment of natural beauty, peace, and tranquility away from the noise and distractions of city life. The environment is well suited for deep prayer and reflection. The Wickham Centre is centrally located and provides ideal spaces for accompaniment, workshops, and formation.
Spiritual formation helps individuals regardless of income, education, faith tradition, or life experience, develop an increased awareness of God’s presence in everyday life, allowing for more, meaning, purpose, gratitude, wonder and joy to take root. The ISCM has been training people in spiritual accompaniment for 50 years. Spiritual directors accompany people in their desire for a closer friendship and relationship with God.
For more on the ISCM, if you seek spiritual accompaniment or want to attend an accompanier retreat please visit the website at: ignatiancentremtl.org