Shrewsbury, Massachusetts Historical Summary
In 1960 Father Gilbert Walser and Bishop Bernard J. Flanagan of Worcester, Massachusetts, agreed to establish a laymen’s retreat house in the diocese. Many men of the diocese had made retreats at Brighton and West Springfield, Massachusetts. The time had arrived for a local retreat house. By the end of the year, Passionists purchased the 48-acre Cosmo E. Mingolla property and home on South Street, Shrewsbury, known as Golden Hill. Father Walser took up residence in the house. Fund-raising commenced, and architect Brother Cajetan J. B. Baumann, O.F.M., drew up plans. On April 29, 1969, Calvary Monastery and Retreat House were dedicated. The building included a dining room, conference room, chapel, and rooms for 80 retreatants and 20 Passionists. Father Walser conducted the first men’s retreat in March 1969. Soon the Calvary Guild was initiated to support the ministry.
From its beginning Calvary Retreat was in the forefront of Vatican II renewal. Over the years programs expanded to serve various needs, including programs for youth, women, married couples, divorced and separated Catholics, addicts, and ecumenical groups, offering directed retreats, and hosting other events. In 1971 the Passionists designated Calvary as an Apostolic Center, combining the position of retreat director and local superior. It became a home to members of the province preaching apostolate. The retreat staff, Father John Powers, Mr. Ernest Rivard, Brother Gus Parlavechio, and Sister Rosemary Fay, S.N.D., have brought great vision to the retreat ministry. Since 1987 Calvary has housed the United States Passionist novitiate. Bethany House, a small residence on the property, is used for special programs
From 1968 until 1994, the Passionist pre-novitiate program of St. Paul of the Cross Province was located in nearby Worcester, Massachusetts. Affiliated with Assumption College and other institutions, residences were located in Worcester at 425 G Salisbury Street from 1968 to 1984, at Our Lady of Angels Parish Convent from 1984 to 1987, and at 8 Chalmers Road from 1988 to 1994.
The Cavalry Retreat Center ultimately closed its doors and was sold in May 2009.