Bedford, Pennsylvania Historical Summary
The House of Solitude was opened as an American experiment at St. Joseph’s Retreat in Birmingham, Alabama, on September 14, 1969, after completion of a successful trial period of nearly a year by five Passionists in Brighton. Massachusetts. The effort was a response to the rewritten 1959 Passionist Rule and Constitutions. Formal approval was given by the 1968 Provincial Chapters of both United States provinces and the Extraordinary General Chapter in Rome. On November 1, 1972, the House of Solitude was relocated to St. Mary’s House in Bedford, Pennsylvania, with three core members from St. Paul of the Cross Province, two of whom, Fathers Malachy McGill and Silvan Rouse, still reside in Bedford.
The daily schedule at the House of Solitude includes Eucharist, Liturgy of the Hours, sung seven times day and night, two hours of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, personal study and Lectio Divina, and penance, all in the context of a simple lifestyle in order to imitate the self-emptying of Jesus.
The principal ministry of the House of Solitude is prayer, accentuating the time-honored contemplative horarium and apostolic mode of life in accordance with the ideals of St. Paul of the Cross. From that flows the following ministries: 40-day retreats, spiritual direction of clergy, religious, and lay persons, and a limited, yet international, preaching apostolate.
Passionist religious from Australia, Argentina, Papua New Guinea, and the West Indies have been members of the core community. One hundred and thirty-seven men from the United States and throughout the world have made the 40-day retreat. They include 75 Passionists, 20 religious from seven different religious orders, eight diocesan priests, seven seminarians, two deacons, and 25 lay men.