New Thinking about Retreats

Mount Manresa Jesuit retreat house on Staten Island will close next June, a casualty of strained budgets and the enormous expense of maintaining large old buildings.  This piece in Catholic New York focuses on the ways the New York Jesuits are rethinking retreats as they plan new ways to offer Ignatian spirituality to new audiences.

Father Ciancimino said the new vision for Jesuit ministry will include among other things: training teams of young Jesuits and their partners in ministry to provide Ignatian spirituality programs with a special focus on young adults, developing programs in Spanish, partnering with local parishes and other faith groups to extend opportunities for spiritual direction, and training a new generation of retreat and spiritual directors.

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Jim Manney
Jim Manney is the author of highly praised popular books on Ignatian spirituality, including A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer (about the Daily Examen) and God Finds Us (about the Spiritual Exercises). He is the compiler/editor of An Ignatian Book of Days. His latest book is What Matters Most and Why. He and his wife live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


  1. How about retreats for the older adults who are confined to nursing homes or live in high rises? It has been my experience that they want retreats, also. I’ve guided a few and the participants find they very beneficial and want more. It appears that the youth are being focused on and the needs of the elderly are forgotten.

  2. This process of discerning a new direction for the Jesuits as they live out St’ Ignatius’ vision in the 21st C. is of great interest. The ability and wisdom to change direction when the Spirit moves is truly a gift even though there may be some mourning over the loss of the retreat house. It is exciting to know that the Jesuit vision includes a place for lay Spiritual Directors.

  3. As a parishioner, how would I go about extending opportunities for spiritual direction for anyone, let alone young adults? With all the parishes in the US, which ones will the Jesuits partner with? Who’s in charge?

    • I don’t know about overall around the country, but in Cleveland, eight-week parish retreats based on the Exercises have become very popular, and Busy Student retreats take place at some local colleges and universities. At John Carroll University, where there is a training program in spiritual direction, there are many opportunities for students, faculty and staff to receive spiritual direction, make eight week Lenten retreats, and make the full Exercises in the 19th Annotation form. I know it’s difficult to start from scratch, but there are lots of creative ways for extending spiritual direction once you have a few committed and trained people.

      • Robin,
        Thanks for your helpful comment. I visit your website from time to time.
        I feel very grateful to have a Jesuit priest as my spiritual director for the past two years. He is most encouraging about my doing the Spiritual Exercises at home since ten months ago. Totally at my own pace, I have been following the book called Retreat in the Real World, by three co-authors: Fr. Andy Alexander, Maureen McCann Waldron, and Fr. Larry Gillick. Also in Audio on their website. Recently, I received as a gift the book called The Ignatian Adventure by Fr. Kevin O’Brien. There seems to be endless riches in these guides. Sometimes I imagine that being at a retreat center would be a refreshing experience. For now, as an empty nester, retreat at home is also good. I am just thankful to have started this Ignatian adventure in my life.


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