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In the 16th century St. Ignatius of Loyola began a new movement in the Catholic Church with his Spiritual Exercises and his founding of the Jesuit Order. Our philosophy of life is rooted in this 450-year-old spiritual tradition. Manresa’s Mission is to help men and women grow spiritually through prayer, reflection, guidance and teaching according to that Ignatian tradition.
Our history began locally in 1926 when a group of laymen seeking a Detroit area source of Ignatian retreats—weekends of quiet prayer—founded Manresa on a former gentleman’s country estate.
Over the last nine decades our offerings have expanded greatly and now also include: educational programs, support groups and discussion groups, prayer experiences, an internship in Ignatian spirituality and personal spiritual direction, and much more.
Jesuits and lay people continue to work together to contribute to your spiritual experience and growth, and the natural beauty of our 39-acre campus with the young Rouge River that runs through it will enhance your time at Manresa.
A Brief Video on Manresa Jesuit Retreat House
Manresa’s people and programs are inspired by Ignatian spirituality, one of the great spiritual traditions of the Catholic Church. It derives from St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order, a former courtier and soldier, who gave himself to Christ during recuperation from a war wound. In the years that followed he had profound, mystical experiences of God. He believed that his experience could help others find God in their lives.
His way of looking at God, the world and oneself, has, in fact, helped and inspired countless people and undertakings over the last four and a half centuries, including all the work done by the Jesuits and those they have influenced. Ignatius made notes about his experiences that eventually grew into The Spiritual Exercises, a book that epitomizes his spirituality and serves as a guide for prayer during time set aside for God—what is called a retreat. It is his legacy that inspires us and that we believe will be profitable for you.
A Very Brief Video on Ignatian Spirituality
From 1917 to 1925 men who wanted to make an Ignatian retreat had to travel by boat to Cleveland, Ohio. In 1923 these laymen banded together as “The Laymen’s Retreat League” to establish a Jesuit retreat house in the Detroit area. They raised the funds to purchase property on the corner of Woodward Avenue and Quarton Road. The manor house there was made ready and the first retreat took place from September 23 to 26, 1926. This was the first and perhaps the only retreat house to be established, owned and administered by laymen, who subsequently invited Jesuits to serve as their retreat directors and spiritual guides. When the house burned down in 1934, laymen raised funds in the middle of the Great Depression to build it anew. Since then the house has been expanded six times, and the spiritual programs likewise have been expanded from weekend retreats for men to a vast variety of spiritual offerings and experiences for men and women. In 1960, the laymen turned over full control to the Jesuits, but today a mostly lay Board of Directors continues to oversee the welfare of the house.
The 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.
The 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.
The 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.
With 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.
In 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.
When 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.
Growth and Development
Laymen and priests 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.
In 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 more.
Fr. 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.
Youth / Funding / Women
When 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.
Golden Jubilee/New Leadership
On 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.
In 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.
In 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 furnishings.
More Recent Developments / Manresa 2000
In 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 two-year 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 has now become the Seminar in Ignatian Spirituality and the Internship in Spiritual Companionship.
Fr. 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, and launched 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.
Manresa is the home for many different types of Ignatian ministries. Fifty-two conference retreats, with a capacity of 72 persons per retreat, bring in a total of 1,800 men and women each year. Individually directed retreats take place throughout the year. Cottages on the property frequently house these retreatants. A. A. groups meet regularly at Manresa. These had been fostered by Fr. Jack Schuett, SJ, who ministered to our A. A. constituency for 21 years. The Manresa staff gives ongoing spiritual direction to many people. Each year the Seminar on Ignatian Spirituality, the Internship in Spiritual Companionship, and other educational programs train people of various Christian faiths and backgrounds. Days of Recollection take place throughout the year.
As 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.
People may continue to make individually directed retreats during our special summer sessions and at other times most convenient to them. The Internship 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.
To enrich the ministries of Manresa lay and religious people trained and nurtured in the Ignatian charism have been 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.
In 2014 Mary Andrecovich’s history of Manresa was published, telling the story of Manresa in even greater detail.
THE MISSION OF MANRESA
EXPLANATION OF THE MISSION STATEMENT
Men and Women:
We are Catholic and Jesuit but are here to serve all who seek a closer union with God and growth in their spiritual life.
There are many dimensions of spiritual growth which we address:
- – an awareness and experience of God’s unconditional love for us,
- – our love of God and neighbor,
- – discernment of God’s will,
- – fidelity in prayer,
- – a knowledge and practice of one’s faith,
- – service to others,
- – a commitment to promotion of the faith that does justice,
- – looking beyond ourselves to the well-being of the Church, society, the community, the family, the workplace, and particularly the needy.
Prayer and Reflection:
We offer the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola and various adaptations of these Exercises in conference retreats and individually directed retreats, the Spiritual Exercises in Daily Life, days of prayer and recollection, different forms of individual prayer, and the celebration of the liturgy and of devotional practices.
Guidance and Teaching:
Members of our staff are available for spiritual direction or to recommend spiritual directors. We provide a variety of workshops, one-day and semester-long, as well as other learning experiences to respond to the spiritual needs of the individual and those engaged in pastoral ministry. In particular we offer a five-part Seminary in Ignatian Spirituality and an Internship in Spiritual Companionship to give professional training to the individual for ministerial service, especially for the ministry of one-on-one spiritual direction and other care-giving situations requiring skilled listening.
As Jesuits and people who share in Ignatian spirituality, we work from the perspective of that spirituality expressed in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, which affirms:
- – God’s presence in our lives and world,
- – God’s unique self-communication to each individual,
- – the necessity of treating each person individually,
- – the possibility of discerning God’s presence and will in our lives,
- – God’s compassion for the suffering of the world and forgiveness of sinners,
- – God’s self-revelation in Christ Jesus,
- – our call to freedom and commitment,
- – a following of Jesus in personal discipleship,
- – a desire to share his companionship and work for the salvation of the world,
- – an openness to share the sufferings of the Lord entailed in that following,
- – awareness of God’s unconditional love for us,
- – and the loving gift of our whole selves to God in return.
How concretely do we fulfill our mission today? We continue the long tradition of weekend and midweek conference or preached retreats for men and women. We give a large variety of retreats for special groups or on special topics like: caregivers, married couples, Hispanics, people in recovery, healing retreats, Christian meditation, etc. From time to time there is a Sunday afternoon of retreat that lets people refresh themselves between their annual retreats or introduces new comers to the Manresa retreat experience. We also offer individually directed retreats: one-on-one experiences over several days or even the better part of a year with one’s own personal director. Read more at:
Besides retreats Manresa offers many other things: a Seminar in Ignatian Spirituality composed of five mini-courses, a yearlong Internship in Spiritual Companionship, Days of Prayer and Recollection, Reading Seminars, Workshops and Educational Programs, Men’s and Women’s Support Groups and Book Clubs, Christian Yoga, Pilgrimages, Weekday Masses, Individual Spiritual Direction, and other items most of which are listed on our General Calendar. Read more at:
We also offer Pilgrimages and Tours. Click below.
Manresa is located in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan,16 miles north of the center of Detroit. It occupies 39 acres, partly wooded, partly landscaped, on the northwest corner of the intersection of Woodward Avenue and Quarton Road.
A nature trail through the woods circles the grounds. Some of the land is flood plain along the main branch of the Rouge River. At Manresa you’ll find mallards and other waterfowl, geese and the great blue heron. If you’re lucky you may see hawks, owls, deer, fox, raccoon, coyote, snapping turtles laying their eggs or baby turtles hatching and heading for the water. We have recently added a labyrinth 62 feet in diameter.
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