West Springfield, Massachusetts Historical Summary
In 1922, Bishop Thomas O’Leary of Springfield, Massachusetts, formally invited the Passionists to come to his diocese. The Hyde Estate in West Springfield was selected, and in 1925 Our Lady of Sorrows Monastery was dedicated. The large granite structure, set on Monastery Heights, offered a commanding view of the Connecticut River in the distance. From 1926 to 1938 it was home to the novitiate. Even a cross burning by the Ku Klux Klan on the property in the 1920s did not deter the success of a laymen’s retreat movement which began to use a portion of the monastery as the Bishop O’Leary Retreat House, also called Our Mother of Sorrows. By 1956 the retreats were so popular that a new retreat wing and chapel were built. After the Second Vatican Council, the retreat house was a center of programs for religious, lay men and women, youth, and ecumenical groups. In 1993, due to financial reasons and lack of personnel, the monastery and retreat house were closed. From 1993 to 2001 the Passionists had a residence in Westfield, Massachusetts. Presently, the residence is in Springfield.
Through the original vision of Father Fidelis Rice, West Springfield served as a center for the Passionist radio and television apostolates. The “Crossroads” radio program began in 1954. Broadcast in English, and for a short time in Spanish, it ceased in 1986 due to financial limitations. The “Chalice of Salvation,” a weekly Sunday televised Mass, first aired in 1957, continues to be a popular program. Its success is based upon the cooperation of the Passionists and the Diocese of Springfield, and the interest and support of the laity.