Weekend Retreats

- For Men

- For Women

- For Couples

- For Members of the

12 Step Programs

Individually Directed Retreats

Monday to Friday

by arrangement

Ongoing Spiritual


Theme Retreats In The Jesuit Tradition



Manresa Jesuit Spiritual Renewal Centre in Pickering
2325 Liverpool Road
Pickering, Ontario L1X 1V4
Tel: (905) 839-2864
Fax: (905) 839-7289


Letters From Retreants



'Be Still and Know That I Am God.'

Psalm 46:10

By Althea Kaye


Window from Manresa Manor dining room
Window from Manresa Manor dining room

There is something about this place of retreat that brings on the warmth within me. The warmth that flows when I feel exceptionally close to God. The warmth that brings tears.
I have been feeling tearful ever since I arrived this Friday afternoon. However I am not alone. The women I pass in the corridors or in the paths around our residence have tell-tale red eyes. And during the 20-minute talk by Fr. Doug McCarthy this evening I heard the quiet sniffling and discreet blowing of noses.

I am at an ecumenical women's silent weekend retreat at Manresa, situated improbably at the end of a residential street in Pickering, East of Toronto, and run by Jesuit Fathers.
I have come to continue my search, begun many years ago, of soul, to understand my restlessness and my inexplicable need of something more in my comfortable Anglican life.

I have been to retreats before but it is at this one that I have felt most close to my fellow retreatants. I came thinking a silent retreat meant an ignoring retreat. Quite the opposite. The vow of silence we agreed upon seems to have made us more vulnerable, more approachable, more aware. We reach out to each other with smiles and hugs and not only when we see another crying, or in pain.

My friends say I live in monkish silence because I do not play CDs or tapes or listen to the radio or turn on the television. What they do not grasp is that while I live in quiet I do not live in silence. What I want, need, to do is to silence my mind, to let God enter at will, as suggested by McCarthy our spiritual advisor this weekend. And to do so, I learn from him, requires complete faith in God. I think of Mark 9:24, ask for help in my unbelief and endeavour to stop my petitioning long enough to let Him speak.

It is easy to be inwardly silent here at Manresa. But then, it is easier to enter silence when surrounded by the quiet of nature, as Henry Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson and Thomas Merton discovered.
I remember some years ago, when I was sailing alone off the coast of Maine. The breeze was light, which allowed me to sit unthinking and relaxed at the tiller I was completely at peace. Then unexpectedly I began to weep.

On another occasion going up a chairlift and admiring the icicles on snow-laden pines, I suddenly began singing, off-tune, the doxology, over and over, as tears streamed. Fortunately for me the slopes were uncrowded, for I, who will not sing even in the shower could not have explained my action. French philosopher Blaise Pascal is said to have found faith when he discovered silence. And in her book A Gift for God Mother Teresa wrote that we cannot find God in noise.

Through the chill of this spring Saturday morning as I collect fallen pine cones, the silence and serenity that had enveloped me the moment I drove onto the grounds yesterday still cocoon me.
And I weep.

Catholic Register
September 2, 1996
Catholic Register Special
(Note: Althea Kaye is a freelance writer in Toronto)


A Little Piece of Heaven


Manresa winter rosary lane
Manresa winter rosary lane

Two years ago, a good friend of mine decided to share a little secret on her constant state of serenity. She booked me for a weekend silent retreat at Manresa, a little piece of heaven hidden up at the top of Liverpool Road in Pickering. At first, I could not even imagine not talking for a whole weekend! Everyone I told, though that I had gone over the edge! On the contrary, I was about to find my peace and my serenity.

From the moment I walked into the lobby, I felt so welcome and glad that I had decided to try this new adventure. Father O'Brien is a wonderful, spirited priest that just brings a smile to your face the minute you meet him. The chapel was breath-taking, newly renovated. Skylights decorate the adjoining meditation room, with a warm , cosy fireplace to sit by with lots of windows showing off the beautiful trees all around the grounds. My room was so comfortable, (great beds!) and the agenda was perfect. I left there a new woman, a woman at peace with herself and God. I felt cleansed and pure. The only disappointment was that the time flew by way too quickly.

This year, I thought I would not be able to attend, due to personal circumstances, yet my friend, always knowing what is best for me, gave me a little pep talk and there I was again, at my Little Piece of Heaven on Earth. I found out that it even gets better!

It was like a reunion as all the same faces that I had met the year before were there again, too. It was like coming home!

I have come to place so much value on Manresa in my life and want to share this well- kept secret with anyone looking for peace and serenity in their life. I left my problems behind at Manresa and returned with a whole new sense of inner love, for my God, myself and for this wonderful world of ours. Gifts like this are priceless to a person in times of turmoil. I highly recommend this retreat to all. Get away from all the hustle and bustle of life's fast lane and slow down and give yourself a weekend at Manresa to put it all back into perspective again.

I promise you that you will be a richer person for the experience. Manresa has some truly special Jesuit priests there for you, ready to listen, advise or just converse with you. They are wise and through Father Doug, I have learned some valuable life lessons in ttaining my peace and happiness. And for that, I thank you and I thank God for His precious gift of Manresa.

Yours truly,
Anita Thompson


A Poem by Marian Beck


Station of the Cross

In Memory of Alma Quilty

Clarendon Wood -- Manresa

To Clarendon Wood
(Manresa's old name)
In years gone by
Nobility came.

Lords Somers and Hyde
Earls of Clarendon too
Enjoyed gardens and streams
And a home with a view.

A fairy-like place
Someone wrote in a book
Log steps to the valley
Ferns, flowers and brook.

A mansion and stable
To each one's delight
Music and dance
And revelry by night!

Time carries on --
With World War One
All returned to England
From whence they had come!

Thirty years follow -
Wars are lost - and some won -
Clarendon passes
From father to son

Then for a new Father
and in the name of the Son
A different nobility -
to Clarendon did come!!

The Jesuit Fathers
Had their hopes for the site
As a place of retreat
Where fears might take flight.

To prepare a retreat
Calls for work of all kind
A capable helper
They needed to find!

An answer to prayer
We know it to be -
For appeared on the scene
John and Alma Quilty!

Is it fact, or just fiction -
Honest, or not true?
Clarendon's dog kennel
Became home for these two!

All who knew - did admire
Works of Alma and John.
Til that day in His plan
John was called to God's home.

At Manresa - (Old Clarendon
Wood - way back then)
Were flourishing retreats,
But only for men!

Secretary Alma
In 1960 and seven
Captained - a first
A retreat - just for women!

She wrote letters and typed,
Used lists and the phone -
Drove her car - and enjoyed
`Clarendon Wood' as her home!

Manresa retreats -
She sold them so well,
And worked for St. Francis
C.W.L. -----!

Lassie and Holly
Her dogs - left no doubt
Of their love and devotion
As she went out and about.

Her friends were many
Tho' her family was few.
But Alma would help
Anyone that she knew!

Priests and retreatants
Now all want to share
And acknowledge with thanks
A life of great care -

So we thank you Alma
And ask that you would
Help us now -- from your heavenly
Clarendon Wood!






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