HISTORY OF MANRESA
seeds of Manresa were planted by a group of laymen who had their
first retreat experiences at St. Stanislaus Retreat House (now
Jesuit Retreat House)
in Cleveland, Ohio. Their initiative was fostered by two Jesuits,
Fr. John Donoher, SJ (from 1921 to 1925) and Fr. William Cogley,
SJ (from 1925 to 1945). And God gave the increase.
original group of men formed an association called The Laymen's
Retreat League. Together they purchased land in what is
now Grosse Pointe Park and planned to build a retreat house there.
After four years of hard work it became clear that the site was
less desirable. Fr. Donoher died on May 30, 1925, and Fr. William
Cogley was appointed his successor, and the search for a new site
continued. In March, 1926, the Edsel Ford Estate offered to purchase
the Grosse Pointe property. This gave the Laymen's Retreat League
the opportunity the men had prayed for. They sold the property
and in July of that year bought the Deepdale Estate
of William Murphy on the corner of Woodward Avenue and Quarton
Road. This site was more central to a growing Detroit area. Public
transportation was available on the Woodward car line between
Detroit and Pontiac.
39-acre Deepdale Estate had been developed by William Murphy,
one of the builders of the Penobscot Building in Detroit. The
beautiful, rustic setting, divided by the swiftly flowing main
branch of the young Rouge River, was not only an estate but a
small farm. Mr. Murphy, in addition to the main house, had built
a tile barn for the cattle, a caretaker's house, and a barn for
farm equipment. A pump house powered by a waterwheel fed water
into an underground sprinkling system throughout the vast gardens.
A special feature of the Deepdale Estate was a silo built in the
shape of a lighthouse, which gave him a lofty place to survey
his property. In 1926 Mr. Murphy put the property up for sale.
the approval of the Provincial of the Chicago Province, Fr. Jeremiah
O'Callaghan, SJ, the purchase of Deepdale was completed
in August of 1926. At that time Fr. O'Callaghan stated that the
Father General of the Society of Jesus required that complete
ownership and management of the property and all the activities
of the retreat house be under the control of the Jesuits. But,
for the time being, Fr. O'Callaghan preferred that the property
and all assets be left under the management of the Laymen's Retreat
League. The actual transfer of the property to the Jesuits took
place decades later.
these early days the Retreat Office was located in the Gabriel
Richard Building in downtown Detroit. The manor house on the new
property was promptly made ready for retreats and Fr. Cogley directed
the first retreat September 23-26,
1926. Sixteen men made this retreat. Initially it was a great
struggle to meet the costs and to recruit retreatants. But with
Fr. Cogley's leadership and the enthusiasm of the retreatants
the new venture picked up momentum. The full capacity of the house
was 23 retreatants. To help make ends meet, Fr. Cogley worked
a big garden and raised cattle to keep the table supplied. The
outdoor Way of the Cross, the Lourdes shrine, and the handsome
gateway at the entrance soon enhanced the property.
the depression came in the early 1930's, expenses became almost
insupportable. Then disaster struck. On March 22, 1934, the manor
house caught fire and burned to the ground. Yet the retreatants,
determined to carry on despite the economic situation, raised
the funds to build a new structure on the site of the old. The
cornerstone was laid in early 1935 and the building, constructed
under the guidance of Henry Brennan of the W.E. Wood Co., was
completed by August 27, 1936. Fr. Marshall Lochbiler, SJ, directed
the first retreat for 31 retreatants, the capacity of the new
facility. The house was built in a style that came to be known
as Detroit Cotswold, a style inspired by the Edsel and Eleanor
Ford House, completed just a few years earlier.
priests, and some younger boys made regular retreats. In these
earlier days it was customary for men from a single parish to
make a retreat together. Retreats ended with Benediction at 4
PM on Sunday and the diocesan pastor normally participated. Retreatants
remembering these days never fail to remark that the heaviest
penance for all was the food. One retreatant remembers overcooked
lima beans for breakfast! Table waiters were frequently jugged
boys from the University of Detroit High School, i.e., their punishment
for disciplinary infractions was to wait on tables at Manresa.
Fr. Cogley, the founding father of Manresa, died on
July 2, 1945. It was due to his generous twenty years of ministry
at Manresa that the apostolate took root and thrived.
1945 Fr. Gerald Fitzgibbons, SJ, took over as Director. The number
of retreatants grew and in 1951 the present chapel wing was built.
This added rooms on the second floor and raised the capacity to
42 retreatants. In 1952 Fr. Clement Singer, SJ, became Director.
And as the number of retreatants continued to grow, the possibility
of a second retreat house in the Detroit area was considered.
Eventually it was decided to increase Manresa's capacity even
Bernard Wernert, SJ, was named Director in 1963. He moved the
offices from downtown Detroit to the Manresa facility and formed
a building committee which began to plan for a new addition. On
Palm Sunday, April 3, 1966, ground was broken for the substantial
new wing which included a basement assembly room. On May 21, 1967,
1400 people celebrated the dedication of this extension which
brought the number of retreat rooms up to 70. Funds saved by Fr.
Singer and his predecessors covered the cost of the building and
all its furnishings.
/ Funding / Women
he came to Manresa, Fr. Wernert found youth retreats flourishing
under the guidance of Fr. Paul Cavanaugh, SJ. From 1961 to 1969
these midweek and evening retreats filled the house. As the new
wing was finished, Manresa's retreatants initiated a fundraising
campaign to build a separate youth retreat house on the property.
Changes in the Church and society called into doubt the wisdom
of having a separate facility for boys. The many donors who had
contributed to the campaign, all but six, decided to leave the
money with Manresa, thereby providing a fund that has helped sustain
Manresa in the years that followed. Youth retreats, however, have
continued to flourish at Manresa particularly through high school
Kairos retreats. The Second Vatican Council brought
about several changes at Manresa. The most noticeable of these
at Manresa has been the offering of retreats for women.
September 12, 1976, Manresa celebrated its Golden Jubilee with
an outdoor Mass, presided over by Bishop Walter Schoenherr. Over
1200 people attended. All of this was reminiscent of the grand
Corpus Christi celebrations held by Frs. Cogley and Fitzgibbons
in the early days of Manresa.
1977 for reasons of health Fr. Wernert retired from his 14 years
of service to Manresa and Fr. Eugene Simon, SJ, became the new
Director. In 1979 the dining room was enlarged and joined to the
new wing. The chapel was air-conditioned. A "cave" chapel
was built on the second floor in an area designated for a future
elevator shaft. The kitchen and store rooms were enlarged. In
1980 the Jesuits received a new dining room, and Our Lady of
Manresa, a one of a kind statue donated by Peter Grande, came
to the Manresa grounds.
1981 the Sacred Heart Court was added, and the Board initiated
a campaign to build the Administration Wing. The next year the
new wing, with its Wernert Lounge and administrative offices,
was dedicated by Archbishop Szoka. The new main entrance is graced
with a statue to the Holy Spirit, the gift of a Jewish family.
In 1987 the chapel was enlarged and enhanced with new sanctuary
Recent Developments / Manresa 2000
1990, Fr. Simon was assigned to work with the Jesuit Province
Office, Fr. John McGrail, SJ, took the position of Director for
a year, and then Fr. James Riley, SJ, became Director for four
years. During this time the lay Advisory Board became a full Board
of Directors. In 1995 the Internship
in Ignatian Spirituality, which had been functioning at Colombiere
Center in Clarkston for 15 years, became an intrinsic part
of the Manresa apostolate. This two-year program, grounded in
the spirituality of St. Ignatius, is currently coordinated by
Fr. Bernie Owens, SJ. It admits about 25 new people each year.
Riley was called to serve in Rome in 1995, and Fr. James Serrick,
SJ became Manresa's new Director. The Board of Directors then
initiated a study of the whole physical plant with special attention
to current fire and safety codes, initiated a campaign, called
Manresa 2000, which raised funds for the improvement
and upgrading of the whole retreat house facility during the summer
of 1997. This work included a new kitchen, an integrated fire
and smoke alarm system, fire escapes from the second floor, a
new elevator to all floors, new heat controls in all the rooms,
air-conditioning of the whole building, and rooms for the physically
disabled. The former pump house, which was powered by a waterwheel,
was converted to a small, rustic chapel. On the first floor of
the main building, a statue of Our Lady of Montserrat has become
the focal point of a chapel, while a cave chapel is
located on the second floor. With all this work now accomplished,
Manresa is well situated to serve long into the 21st century.
is the home for many different types of Ignatian ministries. Fifty-two
conference retreats, with a capacity of 78 persons per retreat,
bring in a total of 2,600 men and women each year. Individually
directed retreats take place throughout the year. These are coordinated
by Fr. Peter Fennessy, SJ. Cottages on the property frequently
house these retreatants. AA groups meet regularly at Manresa.
These had been fostered by Fr. Jack Schuett, SJ, who ministered
to our AA constituency for 21 years. The Manresa staff gives ongoing
spiritual direction to many people. Each year the Ignatian Internship
trains up to 50 people of various Christian faiths and backgrounds.
Days of Recollection take place throughout the year.
the new millennium unfolds, God continues to bless the retreat
apostolate at Manresa. With the help of retreat Captains and Lieutenants
we maintain our conference retreat program,
encourage the participation of younger retreatants, and strive
to fill each retreat so that as many people as possible may take
advantage of the graces to be found here.
continue to provide opportunity for more people to take time for
longer individually directed
retreats. The Internship in Ignatian Spirituality continues
to foster the growth and formation of persons in their call to
minister to God's people. Manresa's facilities are available during
the week for use by groups desiring to get away to
a quiet place for various types of meetings, seminars, and workshops.
enrich the ministries of Manresa lay and religious people trained
and nurtured in the Ignatian charism have been or may be welcomed
as colleagues in ministry with the Jesuits, and together we will
work for Manresa's goals. Together we can strive to live the motto
of St. Ignatius, Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (For the Greater
Glory of God) and with God's grace Manresa will thrive.