Faith Today

Jesuit retreat centre shifts gears

Offers shelter for the vulnerably housed


the ignatius Jesuit Centre in Guelph, Ont., is one of the latest church-related facilities to shift gears in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 50-year-old centre, which usually hosts retreats and workshops based on the religious teaching and exercises of the 16thcentur­y Spaniard Ignatius Loyola, became temporary housing for Guelph and Wellington County’s homeless in November.

The decision to provide temporary housing was guided by the Roman Catholic group’s directive to “walk with the poor,” and “was a simple choice for us,” says director of operations Lisa Calzonetti. “The question was not if we would do it, but how we would do it.”

Each of the 48 single rooms in the centre’s two-floor accommodat­ion wing has its own bed, window and sinks to limit the risks of transmissi­on. With women on one floor and men on another, all will be able to use the large common room and dining room.

“It’s not a shelter model,” says Calzonetti, noting residents won’t be required to leave during the day. Since the centre is just outside Guelph’s city limits, a shuttle service will be set up for residents who need to go to work or various appointmen­ts. For those who spend their time at the centre, Calzonetti says there are a number of opportunit­ies for residents to keep busy, from working on the centre’s farm, helping out in the kitchen or with housekeepi­ng. Residents can also take advantage of the centre’s 200-hectare property, which includes 25 km of hiking trails and sacred spaces.

The Loyola House Supportive Temporary Accommodat­ion Pilot is slated to run for a year.

“We want to be a retreat centre again,” says Calzonetti, noting the income from the pilot project gives the centre some breathing space, “offsetting a spiralling deficit.”

 ??  ?? One of the 48 single rooms at Loyola House is now housing new residents.
One of the 48 single rooms at Loyola House is now housing new residents.

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