“From the moment I stepped into the foyer, I felt this overwhelming peace come over me. This peace was what I so desperately needed.” Read Debra’s full story here…
From the moment I stepped into the foyer, I felt this overwhelming peace come over me. This peace was what I so desperately needed. I came that weekend carrying a lot of baggage (burdens). I was a product of self-hatred and had many fears from my childhood that was filled with turmoil. When I entered my room, I felt the strong presence of God. I remember kneeling right away to pray. I asked God to not to let me sleep late, because I didn’t want to miss anything. I was afraid I would oversleep because of the silence. My children had a routine of waking me up at 5:00am every day. Nevertheless, my prayers were answered. Throughout the weekend, the silence helped me to quiet myself so I could hear the voice of God. The stillness and being alone allowed all that was buried to come out. I felt God drawing out what was deeply rooted. The scenic views were so refreshing to be surrounded by all weekend. From the beautiful waterfalls to the peaceful landscapes, you are left with nothing to worry about. Your focus becomes what’s in front of you and all that God is offering you.
I can’t begin to tell you all the healings that took place that very first weekend. I remember going to the reconciliation service and feeling welcomed. This instantly gave me comfort and helped me to receive tears of healing. The Eucharist, consultations, and the reflections for prayer all played a big part as well. My experience here is one I will never forget. It was heaven on earth for me. Each year Loyola Jesuit Center has been my home away from home. The following year I became an ambassador. It became my goal to reach out to all women and witness to them about how powerful this experience can be. Attending a silent retreat at Loyola impacts your life through experiencing God’s Love, Mercy, & Grace. I just completed my 28th retreat and feel so blessed that God continues to restore me. He is in the “restoration business”! I have this overwhelming joy when I think of Loyola and how it has changed my life by coming year after year.
– Debra R., Island Heights, NJ, Women’s Retreat Ambassador, Retreatant of 28 years
Debra R., Island Heights, NJ, Women’s Retreat Ambassador, Retreatant of 28 years
“I crave quiet and have a hard time finding it in my day to day life. Loyola offers that quiet, but in a focused way that keeps me from thinking about my phone and other lingering responsibilities. Loyola is liberating.” Read Bill’s full story here…
Firstly, I crave quiet and have a hard time finding it in my day to day life. Loyola obviously offers that quiet, but in a focused way that keeps me from thinking about my phone and other lingering responsibilities. Like a classroom, Loyola is a dedicated space where, when I am there, I am free to – and expected to – be disconnected from everything else. Loyola is liberating.
Secondly, like Church, there’s something very reassuring and calming about turning inward while gathered as a community. On the one hand it’s a very personal experience, but at the same time, Loyola offers me the chance to be and to feel connected to my peers in a deeply spiritual way.
Thirdly, while it may sound superficial, I feel extra special being able to experience the above in such a beautiful place. The history, the structure, and the grounds are filled with The Spirit and with Grace. Loyola is a place made by humans, given to the Jesuits in human generosity, where love is freely given – figuratively and literally.
“Finding God in All Things” is just easier at Loyola. It’s also easier to do in my “real life” after I leave a Loyola retreat. I’m simply a better person because of it.
– Bill R., Madison, NJ, Men’s Retreat Ambassador, Retreatant of 22 years
Bill R., Madison, NJ, Men’s Retreat Ambassador, Retreatant of 22 years
“If you want to get away from cell phones, texting, and the hustle and bustle of everyday life for a little more than 48 hours, come on a retreat. I call Loyola a spa for your soul. I come back very calm and centered.” Read Nina’s full story here…
I found out after going on a few retreats that my dad and grandfather used to go on retreats at Loyola (which was originally founded as a men’s retreat center) so I feel like there was divine intervention in me finding this place and that I was meant to go here and continue my family’s tradition of making retreats.
Some memories from my weekend retreats include: walking the outdoor Stations of the Cross around the serene grounds, the powerful healing mass, listening to inspiring talks by the retreat leaders that always touch me in some way and saying the rosary in the mansion foyer in front of the beautiful marble Mary statue. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how delicious the food is! I’ve asked the chef for several of recipes! They play soft, peaceful music during meals so you can eat mindfully.
One of my favorite things to do at Loyola is stroll around the beautiful gardens listening to the peaceful sound of the trickling fountains, watching the fish swim around in the reflecting pool and smelling the flowers. I usually spend most of my retreat outdoors. I’ve been lucky to have had nice weather on all of the retreats I’ve been on. Being in nature and surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation adds to the contemplative atmosphere.
If you are feeling a tug in your heart from the Holy Spirit, like I did 8 years ago, and want to get away from cell phones, texting, and the hustle and bustle of everyday life for a little more than 48 hours, come on a retreat. I call Loyola a spa for your soul. This is a gift you give yourself.
– Nina A., Oakland, NJ, Loyola Public Relations/Website Manager and Retreatant of 8 years
Nina A., Oakland, NJ, Loyola Public Relations/Website Manager and Retreatant of 8 years
“Loyola, THANK YOU for opening my heart, my mind and my soul to the true message of Jesus’ teachings- LOVE!!! I am now and forever grateful!” Read Jordan’s full story here…
Loyola has the unique ability to plant that mustard seed of Faith and Love into your Mind, Body and Soul; and through their retreats, spiritual direction, days/evenings of prayer, workshops, and just being in the presence of the house, that seed will grow and unveil itself within your heart and you will fall completely in love with God, yourself and Life!
Loyola Jesuit Center has given me two experiences that I will forever be grateful for- true baptism, and an engagement to the love of my life.
Baptism is a Holy Sacrament, but honestly it’s much more than a ceremony; it’s an experience. During my first retreat at Loyola, I experienced a health episode of an irregular heart beat (which happens for me about once every year). When this happens, I am instructed by my doctor to go immediately to the nearest emergency room so they can convert my heartbeat into a normal sinus rhythm. However, I was so in love with the topic being discussed at one of the workshops during the retreat, that I decided I’ll wait till it’s done and then go. The topic was about suffering and healing. Father Tom, gave me a prayer to say while my heart was beating irregular. “Lord, I pray for your graces of health and healing, and if I suffer, may my suffering be meshed with yours on the cross, and bring love, light and inspiration to this world.” After saying that prayer with all of my my heart and being, my heart began to beat in a normal rhythm again. It was a miracle. As soon as I got back to my room, I got on my knees, looked up at Jesus on the Cross, and fully and completely accepted Him into my heart!
Proposals for marriage are exciting, because it’s an experience you and your significant other will always remember and hold dear. Loyola allowed me the opportunity to propose to my future wife in their retreat house, and they even helped out with the arrangements! My fiancé to be, went on a scavenger hunt in many different rooms throughout the house that had significant meaning to me and her, and I proposed at the end of a trail of rose petals, with candles asking if she’ll marry me, and in the chapel. It was absolutely perfect!
Loyola, THANK YOU for opening my heart, my mind and my soul to the true message of Jesus’ teachings- LOVE!!! I am now and forever grateful!
– Jordan S., Edison, NJ, Young Adult Retreatant
Jordan S., Edison, NJ, Young Adult Retreatant
“Loyola is my home away from home. I come here to rest and recharge not only my physical body, but my spiritual one.” Read Joe’s full story here…
The retreat house has a certain calmness about it, where I can come and be one with myself. I have found the priests and the lay persons that work at Loyola to be friendly, accommodating and guiding. They give you the space you need to be silent and to reflect, but they are always only a step away if you need them for advice or consultation.
This is my seventh year coming to Loyola, and it truly has changed my life in so many ways. I cannot thank everyone enough for providing me with such a special place to come and reflect and to be at one with the Lord.
I feel so strongly about Loyola, that each year I run a campaign to invite others to join me. So far, I have been successful in bringing at least three new retreatants each time I come to a silent retreat. I am blessed to be able to share my experience of silence and reflection with others and the special atmosphere that is Loyola.
– Joe L., Point Pleasant, NJ, Retreatant of 7 years
Joe L., Point Pleasant, NJ, Retreatant of 7 years
“Whether I am there participating in Mass, attending a retreat, serving as a spiritual director, or volunteering as a gardener, the effect is the same. With each heartbeat, I am filled by soul-nourishing breath!” Read Beverly’s full story here…
From the first sight of the property, I feel at home. I have always cherished nature, particularly the vibrant colors, shapes, and textures of flowers and trees. At Loyola, I am surrounded by magnificent gardens and paths. For me, though, they are more than that, they are God in our midst. Each time I am there, I stand in awe. I look around and receive all as gift from God’s generous, gracious heart.
The Jesuits and staff extend such genuine, wholehearted, and welcoming hospitality. One never feels a “stranger” or even a “newcomer on retreat.” No task is too big or too little as the Jesuits and staff greet each person and offer personal attention, ensuring each guest’s comfort by pampering body and soul. There is such a sense of belonging, being known, and in community. The Jesuit spirit and generosity of heart embodies the unconditional love of God inviting all for a stay of merciful and tender care.
For me, “exceptional!” is the word that describes the experience of the liturgies and prayer services. From “before the sun rises” First Friday Mass to an exuberant, overflowing room at the Easter Vigil, the liturgies are moving, meaningful gatherings of our Sacramental life as experienced nowhere else. Each gathering is glorious. Countless times, the Jesuits’ homilies have carried me as I navigated personal, family, and ministry-related situations and have been the voice of God speaking to me. I leave each service abounding in thankfulness for the Jesuits’ presence and for God’s goodness through them to me.
The diversity and magnitude of the programs offered are astounding. It is apparent the thoughtful work which has gone into their design: the content, the reflections, the readings, the collaboration with laity, the music, the availability of spiritual directors. The result: a wonderful blend of thought-provoking, life-enriching, practical spirituality leading me to a deeper connection with God and community.
The most astonishing feeling about Loyola Retreat Center lies in the extent to which Ignatian Spirituality permeates everything within its walls. It is a powerful place where I go to be nourished, enriched, soothed, challenged and my desire for generous love and service is deepened. This truly is a place of God’s goodness, grace, and love.
– Beverly D., Pompton Plains, NJ, Spiritual Director and recent retreatant
Beverly D., Pompton Plains, NJ, Spiritual Director and recent retreatant
“The Lord has something to say to you over the weekend and you need to be listening for it in silence. To those who are concerned about the silence I say give it a try, what do you have to lose?” Read Ed’s full story here…
My annual retreat is a deep dive into my spiritual life which I cannot get elsewhere. I attend mass regularly and I lead a weekly bible study small group, but the retreat is an experience like no other. Jesus said “in my Father’s house there are many mansions … I am going to prepare a place for you (John 14:2).” Loyola retreat house is one of those mansions and it offers a foretaste of heaven every time I spend a weekend there.
Over the years I have also become a Men’s Retreat Ambassador, bringing friends, relatives, neighbors, and fellow parishioners to Loyola. My two sons have each made 12 retreats so far and, in all, the 43 men I have brought to Loyola have made 172 weekend retreats. I love sharing this experience with others. To those who are concerned about the silence I say give it a try, what do you have to lose? Come and see for yourself.
– Edward D., Harrington Park, NJ, Men’s Retreat Ambassador and Retreatant of 24 years
Edward D., Harrington Park, NJ, Men’s Retreat Ambassador and Retreatant of 24 years
“I look forward to my annual weekend retreat and know that when I leave on Sunday, my friendship with God is stronger than when I arrived.” Read Nancy’s full story here…
I moved to NJ in 1995. In the spring of 1997 and again in 1998, I attended a retreat in Southern Jersey. I knew I wanted more from the experience than I was getting with these retreats. In the fall of 1998, there was a blurb in my parish bulletin about attending a silent retreat at Loyola. While I was a bit nervous about the silence, I registered for the November 1998 weekend retreat. I quickly learned that the silence was an integral component of the retreat and enhanced the spiritual experience. I have been participating in retreats annually since then. I look forward to the weekend and know that when I leave on Sunday after my retreat, my friendship with God is stronger than when I arrived. It’s impossible for me to isolate one aspect of the retreat experience as being better than another. The combination of the formal program including the talks, the private prayer times and reconciliation with the beauty of the house and gardens all contribute to my spiritual growth.
I actually attended a retreat a few weeks after the 9/11 attacks. It was at Loyola that I was able to find peace and a sense of comfort and was able to find some consolation after the horrors of that awful day.
Since retiring in 2007, I participate in Days of Prayer, Book Clubs and Lectures and other opportunities where I can explore my spiritual life. It is very reassuring to me to know that Loyola is nearby and that there is a place where I can take advantage of the many offerings.
Of course, as wonderful as the surroundings are, the real treasures of Loyola are the Jesuits and the lay staff. They are knowledgeable, kind, caring and always willing to help. I hope this gives you a glimpse into how much I value Loyola.
– Nancy G., Morris Plains, NJ, Retreatant of 22 years
Nancy G., Morris Plains, NJ, Retreatant of 22 years