For 57 years, the Ignatius Jesuit Centre (IJC) in Guelph, ON has provided a welcoming space for others. Loyola House served retreatants from around the globe but the global pandemic changed all of that 20 months ago.
As the apostolate’s team discerned what to do with a 48 room retreat house during a pandemic, an opportunity to help those in need came forward. As part of the local community’s work to end homelessness in Wellington County, the IJC collaborated with the County and its partners and the Loyola House Supportive Temporary Accommodation Pilot (LHSTAP) opened in October 2020.
The Jesuits’ Universal Apostolic Preferences tied well with this initiative as the IJC transitioned from a full time live-in retreat house to a home for society’s marginalized. This provided the IJC with a grace filled experience, while sustaining their budget during the closure to on-site retreats. This also gave them time to plan for the future.
The collaboration with the County concludes this November. At that time, the IJC will look to renovate the retreat house – with new beds and flooring in the accommodation wing, an upgrade to bathrooms and the dining room; with all work reflecting the protocols that have resulted from the pandemic.
And then the hard work begins – reimagining the retreats and programs at Loyola House, planning new ones, looking at the needs of people post pandemic, all of which are still currently unknown. In April 2022, the IJC plans to reopen to on-site retreats.
The IJC is anxious to begin welcoming both returning and new retreatants, friends, and supporters. While they have had the security of a well sustained budget for nine years, unfortunately this will not be the case over the next 2 to 5 years. But they are up for the challenge.
Thank you for your generosity, prayers, and interest in our apostolates. Please know that the Jesuits and their staff pray for you daily.
Barry J. Leidl