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Holy Cross’ Thomas P. Joyce ’59 Contemplative Center: Reinventing an Ancient Tradition

America Magazine
August 24th, 2020 by 
Joyce Contemplative Center. Photo by Tom Rettig

According to a feature article in America Magazine, the Thomas P. Joyce ’59 Contemplative Center “seems built to enable all who visit to meet the God who loves them as they are, in their own way.”

Since its opening in the fall of 2016, the Joyce Contemplative Center has quickly become one of the highlights of the Holy Cross experience for students and alumni alike, with more than 700 students—nearly 25 percent of the student body—participating in a retreat at some point during their four years at the College. And it’s easy to understand why.

Located on a 52-acre site atop a hill overlooking the beautiful Wachusett Reservoir in the town of West Boylston, Mass., the Center is a 33,800-square foot complex designed specifically for the College’s retreat programs. The building includes a chapel, meeting rooms, and dining room, as well as living quarters with bedrooms and bathrooms for 60 individuals.

Every architectural element of the building designed by Lamoureux Pagano & Associates, Inc. of Worcester is inspired in some way by the Spiritual Exercises and the spirituality of St. Ignatius Loyola, from the simplicity of the very few main materials—glass, stone, wood—to the full-length windows allowing the outdoors to blend seamlessly with the indoors.

This creates “a wonderful way to center prayer,” says Rev. Philip Boroughs, S.J., the president of the College.

Marybeth Kearns-Barrett, director of the Office of the College Chaplains, agrees, noting the view also has a way of drawing students out of themselves: “Sometimes a retreat can become so self-focused. To see what’s outside, it’s like something bigger than yourself always calling back to you.”

The Joyce Contemplative Center has allowed for expansion of the student retreat program while providing space for new programs for faculty, staff and alumni. Some of the retreat opportunities include class-year specific outings, such as the Ignite Retreat for first-year students and the Sophomore Retreat, study retreats during finals season, the Ignatian Yoga Retreat, and the Silent Weekend Retreat for Alumni, among many others.

To read the full article, go to AmericaMagazine.org.

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