Holy Cross Announces Plans to Construct Contemplative Center

Located in West Boylston, Mass., new Joyce Contemplative Center is designed to enhance College's retreat programs and preserve natural beauty of 52-acre site

During a blessing and ceremonial groundbreaking, Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., president of the College of the Holy Cross announced plans for constructing a new facility on a 52-acre site atop a hill overlooking the Wachusett Reservoir in the town of West Boylston, Mass.

“In today’s rapid-response world, where technological change is constant, and the values we consider timeless can be routinely questioned, the mission of Holy Cross has never been more important. We are dedicated to educating the whole person: mind, body, and spirit,” said Fr. Boroughs. “Just as important is having a place that offers members of our community opportunities to step away from their daily activities to reflect on the ways God is present in our lives and how we may use our God-given gifts and talents to serve the world.”

The West Boylston property was purchased last year by the College and is located less than 20 minutes from campus, adjacent to a conservation area.

Fr. Boroughs also announced that the facility will be named the Thomas P. Joyce ’59 Contemplative Center, in honor of the late Mr. Joyce, a member of the Holy Cross board of trustees, dedicated civic leader, former chairman of Joyce Beverages in Chicago, and father of six Holy Cross graduates. The Joyce family is a lead donor to the project.

John J. Mahoney, Jr. '73, chair of the Holy Cross board of trustees, thanked faculty, staff and students for the input and thoughtful work they contributed as the College planned the facility.

He went on to express gratitude to all the donors who made the center possible. "We are particularly grateful to Ann Marie and Bill Teuber '73. Ann Marie and Bill created the momentum to get this project rolling with the project’s initial gift. They have been longtime supporters of the Jesuit mission at Holy Cross."

Along with College leaders, alumni, and donors, joining Fr. Boroughs at the blessing and groundbreaking was student Brenda Nahiely Hernandez ’17, of San Diego, who has participated in several Holy Cross retreats. Addressing the gathering, she shared her experiences, and said: “Holy Cross retreats have helped me discern about my vocation. Through contemplative prayer and with the guidance of my spiritual directors, I was also able to reconnect with my passions and was challenged to ask myself important questions that I thought I had already answered.”

Holy Cross has a vigorous retreat program for students, including overnight and weekend retreats, and a five day silent adaptation of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola that is offered four times annually. Currently, all programs take place at rented facilities, often hours away from campus. With the new Joyce Center, the College hopes to expand opportunities for students while also providing new opportunities for faculty, staff and alumni.

Interest and participation in spiritual retreats is growing at Holy Cross, this despite the fact that national studies and our own experience shows young adults have weaker ties to institutional religion, according to Marybeth Kearns-Barrett ’84, director of the chaplains’ office. “More than 600 students participated in a Holy Cross sponsored retreat last year, compared to fewer than 400 who participated in 2008,” she said.

The new facility will consist of a 33,800-square foot complex designed specifically for the College’s well-established programs. The main building will include a chapel, meeting rooms, and dining room. Adjoining the main building will be a living quarters with bedrooms and baths for 60 individuals.

Estimated cost of the complex is $22 million.

Plans call for the Joyce Center to open at the beginning of the fall 2016 academic year. Construction timelines will be finalized as fundraising proceeds.  The center is one of the major initiatives in the College’s comprehensive campaign, “Become More: Campaign for the Future of Holy Cross.”

The facility has been designed by Lamoureux Pagano & Associates of Worcester.

Also participating in the blessing and groundbreaking were  John J. Mahoney, Jr. ’73, chair of the Holy Cross board of trustees; Thomas P. Joyce, Jr. ’82; Rev. Paul F. Harman, S.J., vice president for Mission; Marybeth Kearns-Barrett ’84, director of the chaplains’ office; Megan Fox-Kelly ’99, associate chaplain and director of retreat programs; Normand Gouin, assistant chaplain and director of liturgy and music; members of the board of trustees and several donors whose gifts are making this project possible.

For more information about the Contemplative Center, including architects’ renderings and details of the project, visit www.alumni.holycross.edu/retreat


The new Holy Cross contemplative center is named for Thomas P. Joyce ’59.  A native of St. Louis, Joyce grew up in New Rochelle, N.Y. After graduating from Holy Cross, he moved to Chicago and joined Joyce Beverages, founded by his grandfather in 1935. Under his leadership, Joyce Beverages became the nation's largest 7-Up bottler with operations in seven states. He was named president in 1968 and chairman in 1979.

Joyce was active in many civic, religious and social organizations. He was a member of the Holy Cross board of trustees from 1978 to 1994; chairman of Mercy Hospital and Medical Center from 1985 to 1990, and was the first layperson to head Chicago’s oldest hospital which was founded by the Sisters of Mercy. He served as a director of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin’s Big Shoulders Fund in support of the inner city schools and also was on the board of advisors of Catholic Charities.Joyce received an honorary degree from Holy Cross on February 20, 1995, before he passed away on April 23, 1995. Joyce was survived by his wife Mary and their six children, all of whom graduated from Holy Cross.

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