Jesuit Retreat House undergoes facelift

THE 55-year-old Jesuit Retreat House (JRH) in Banawa Hills, Cebu City, a center for Ignatian spirituality, will undergo major renovation.

The groundbreaking for the project was done last Dec. 12, Wednesday, and was led by Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma.

Very Rev. Arturo Sosa, S.J., superior general of the Jesuit religious order who visited Cebu last week, led the blessing of the building’s time capsule at the Sacred Heart Church on Dec. 11.

The architectural designs for the retreat house are handled by Espina & Perez-Espina Associates of Cebu City.

There are six Jesuit retreat houses in the Philippines with locations in Baguio, Quezon City, Angono-Rizal, Cebu City, Malaybalay-Bukidnon and Samal Island-Davao.

The one in Cebu City is administered by the Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu, its mission since 2014.

Established in 1963, the retreat house has served the spiritual and pastoral needs of hundreds of lay, religious and ordained retreatants from Cebu and other parts of the country.

But after five decades, the place is showing serious signs of deterioration.

St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, is the patron saint of spiritual retreats.

In a statement, the religious order said the renovation would be a fitting contribution for the spiritual renewal of the faithful as the nation prepares for the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines, particularly Cebu.

JRH will also become an important cultural and heritage center for the missionary works of Jesuits in the Visayas and Mindano. The house will incorporate heritage features not just from Cebu Jesuits but also from the greater heritage of the Philippine Jesuits. JRH owns an important artifact from the 18th century, the statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

The Jesuits have a longer history in Cebu, dating back to 1595. In September of that year, the first mission superior and later vice-provincial Antonio Sedeño opened a house in Cebu, prepared by his pathfinder, the historian Pedro Chirino.

Cebu was central in the governance of the Jesuit missions in the Visayas and Mindanao. After the Jesuits returned to the Philippines in 1859 and their return to Mindanao the year after, Cebu served as gateway. There Jesuits to and from Manila would stop for a layover before proceeding to Mindanao.

The rationale for the redevelopment for JRH draws from the latest exhortation of Pope Francis’ ‘Gaudete et Exultate” (Rejoice And Be Glad) on the Call to Holiness in Today’s World (Vatican, 19 March 2018).

It is also part of preparations for the celebration of the Ignatian Jubilee Year in 2021-2022, the 500th anniversary of the conversion of St. Ignatius of Loyola and the 400th anniversary of his canonization with St. Francis Xavier. (S)


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