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Beginning in 1898, Jesuit Retreat Center is the first and longest running location in the United States providing retreats for laypersons as well as for priests and religious. For over 120 years, men and women of all ages have accepted the same invitation: to get to know themselves more deeply and to encounter God’s love.


Jesuits from Saint Ignatius College purchase 20 wooded acres on State Road in South Brooklyn Station (now Parma), Ohio for recreational use of the college’s faculty. Over the next few years, they acquired additional acreage, but they would never see a vacation house on State Road.


First Jesuits are buried in the Jesuit Cemetery at the rear of the property. Through the 1970’s, over 100 Jesuits will be buried in Parma.


Additional 14 acres purchased and a two-and-a-half story wood frame house is built on the property to serve as Saint Berchmans Hall, a house of philosophy for Jesuits in formation in the German Buffalo Mission.


On August 15, 1898, the property on State Road becomes St. Stanislaus Novitiate, a training center for new Jesuits. Two years later, a four-story Gothic brick building is constructed by the German Jesuit brothers. Part of the property is farmed to support the Jesuits.

Fr. Theodore Van Rossum, SJ, Superior of the Buffalo Mission, is name Rector and Master of Novices. Noting the wealth of spiritual direction available at the house, he believed making it more widely available would be beneficial to the laity as well as Jesuit novices. He extended an invitation to 14 laymen to come and make the first retreat ever offered at the house. Only three actually came.

The lay retreat movement undergoes much growth throughout the Midwest. Six different retreat houses will be founded from the inspiration of the retreat programs in Parma. Between 1898 and 1907, approximately 500 men make retreats at Saint Stanislaus.


The Buffalo Mission becomes part of the Missouri Province, and the novitiate is moved to Florissant, Missouri. The Parma property becomes a tertianship, a center for recently ordained Jesuit priests who provide a supply of preachers and directors to serve the needs of the laity who came to them for retreats.


A fire causes major damages to the house. Tertianship is temporarily relocated to Hot Springs, NC and no retreats are held this year. 22 acres along what is now Torrington Avenue are sold to fund reconstruction.


Men’s Lenten retreats are inaugurated; retreats for the laity were only scheduled during parts of the year when the bulk of tertians were away from the house, such as summer and Lent.


Alcoholics Anonymous is founded in Akron, Ohio. Sr. Ignatia Gavin, a Sister of Charity of Saint Augustine, recommends that sufferers go to St. Stanislaus in Parma for spiritual recovery. The strong connection between the 12 Steps and the Spiritual Exercises supported further development of AA programs for Jesuit retreat houses.


One of the tertian fathers who studied at Parma in 1937-38 was Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ, who later served as the 28th Superior General of the Society of Jesus from 1965 to 1983.


Laymen’s Retreat League of the Diocese of Cleveland is formed.


First wing of the current building, including dining room, chapel, and rooms above, is built by the Lay Retreat League. For the first time retreats for the laity could be held year-round. Between 1912 and 1952, just under 32,000 men make retreats at Saint Stanislaus.


Saint Stanislaus becomes part of the Detroit Province. The Lay Retreat League funds the construction of another wing, including the chapel, dining room and with additional bedrooms above and below. Dining room and chapel in the first wing are converted to a library and meeting space when the new wing opens in 1955.


Second wing, including the chapel, dining room and rooms above, is built. Dining room and chapel in the first wing are converted to a library and lounge.


Weekend conference retreats became the standard format. Retreats were made in silence, with talks based on the Spiritual Exercises and centered on personal conversion and a generous-hearted following of Christ in response to God’s personal love. Retreat time included devotions, spiritual reading, confession, Mass, personal reflection, and prayer.


Fr. Tom Gedeon, SJ, Executive Director and retreat director, establishes a lay advisory board, including women, to help implement changes in the wake of Vatican II.


The tertianship program is moved to Colombiere College in Clarkston, MI. The name of the retreat house is changed to the Jesuit Retreat House. Lay Retreat League funds the renovation of 30 rooms in the former tertianship building to serve as “annex” for retreatants.


First women’s retreat is held in the formerly “cloistered” retreat house.


Programming at JRH is expanded from the traditional preached retreats. The resurgence of the Spiritual Exercises continues from the 1960s.


Sister Patricia Hughes, OSU named the first Associate Director for Women’s Programs.


Fr. Gedeon recruits Frs. Patrick O’Leary, James Nusbaum and James Farrell to JRH as retreat directors. A full slate of 30-Day, 19th Annotation, and 8-Day individually directed retreats is developed by the end of the decade. Several religious women joined the team of retreat directors. AA retreats continued to grow.


The old novitiate and tertianship buildings are razed.


Fr. Patrick O’Leary assumes leadership at JRH. Programs continue to grow. From 1982-86, a 30-Day retreat was offered annually. Top spiritual directors across the country came to direct retreats at JRH. The original Jesuit Retreat House logo was designed during this period.


The Advisory Board becomes a governing Board of Trustees that includes both Jesuits and non-Jesuits, and exercises full responsibility for the work of the retreat house in fidelity with the mission of the Society of Jesus, represented by the Jesuit Provincial.


Fr. O’Leary departs as director.


Attendance at programs waned and the physical plant deteriorated. The house was booked by non-spiritual conference programs. Yet the Cursillo and Christ Renews His Parish retreats grew in popularity and filled the house for a period of time.

Fr. James Riley, SJ, is appointed Acting Director. The board changes his title to Director in 1998. He used the upcoming centennial celebration in 1998 as a rallying point to renew the building, programs, and financial state. He reinstated the priority of the Spiritual Exercises. The return to the Jesuit character of the programs and improvement to the facilities generated an upswing in attendance and community reaction to JRH.


Richard Jerdonek conducts a financial feasibility study to determine whether building onto the present structure is advised. Directors of Development and Marketing are hired.


Fr. Clem Metzger, SJ, is named Director by the Provincial. High school Kairos retreats become the main function at JRH as adult programs wane. Directors of Development and Marketing are retired.


A second financial feasibility study is conducted to determine whether building on to the present structure was advisable. There was no consensus, and the project was dropped.


Sister Mary Ann Flannery, SC, is named Executive Director. She is charged with developing a program staff which would include a focus on lay leadership and improvements in marketing. Sr. Mary Ann and the board discern the need for a Marketing Director and a Development Director to help navigate the challenging financial times.


Martha Campbell is hired as Lay Leadership Director. This would mark the beginning of an upswing in carrying out the house’s mission through parish outreach, the development of a spiritual formation program, and an expansion of Ignatian spirituality among laity in the Diocese.


Eighty-five trees (mostly Pine) were knocked down during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. JRH was closed for a week due to downed wires which caused a power outage.


Mary Ann Flannery, SC retires as Executive Director of JRH. Rick Krivanka is hired as the new Executive Director. A capital campaign to renovate the existing building and build a major new addition is started.


Significant progress is made in the design of the new addition and renovation as well as the capital campaign, a vision sustained since the turn of this century.


The new addition opens and major renovations continue in the existing building, a dream and a vision sustained since the turn of this century. The new facilities fulfill the hope to better serve more people. A strategic plan is completed to guide the utilization of the enhanced facility.


A new name (Jesuit Retreat Center - JRC), logo, website, and revised mission statement are introduced based on the strategic plan. JRC celebrates its 120th anniversary ushering in the beginning of a new era. The number of people served grows to over 7,000 per year as programs and services increase.


Barbara Leggott retires after 33 years of service. Bill Hobbs is named as the new Associate Director. After closing for almost three months during the Covid Pandemic, the retreat center reopens in June. During the closure, the Martyrs Chapel, the Kitchen and the serving area in the Dining Room are renovated.


Rick Krivanka retires and Bill Hobbs becomes the new Director of the Jesuit Retreat Center in August 2021.


JRC becomes the first retreat house in the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States to undergo the Mission Examen sponsorship review process. Preparations begin to celebrate the 125th anniversary in 2023.

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