Chronicle History of Mother of Sorrows Retreat House 1920s – 1940s

Home / Explore Our History / U.S. Passionist History / West Springfield, Massachusetts Historical Summary / Chronicle History of Mother of Sorrows Retreat House 1920s – 1940s


  • Bishop Thomas O’Leary invited the Passionist Fathers to erect a Monastery in West Springfield.


  • October 14–Ground broken for the Monastery building designed by firm of Cames, Perry, McMullen of Pittsburgh. Contractor for Retreat House was J.G. Roy & Sons of Springfield.


  • September–Monastery and Retreat House ready for occupancy.
  • October 25 to November 1–Open House … over 100,000 people came to see.
  • December 8–Dedicated to God under the patronage of Mary, Mother of Sorrows, by Bishop O’Leary. Retreat House was named after its founder, Bishop Thomas O’Leary.
  • December 11-14–First retreat began Friday, December11. First Director Fr. Philip Bolger, C.P. Preached by Fr. Bonaventure McHugh, C.P.
  • First retreats began Friday 6 PM and closed 8 AM Monday. There was no charge for the retreat but a donation was requested. The first Retreat House was built to accommodate 50 men. The first retreats were known as the Sixty Golden Hours. Early retreats were made up of professional and industrial groups.


  • Parish system of weekend retreats established by Fr. Nilus McAllister, C.P.


  • November 4–The first French Retreat. It was attended by 40 men from the Holyoke, Chicopee and West Springfield area. The Retreat was conducted by Rev. Louis Maillet, C.P.
  • Three retreats for Italian Catholics of the nearby communities were held on the next three weekends.


  • January–The Fifth Annual Retreat for the Blind was held with 20 men attending.
  • February 5–Two conferences on the Laymen’s Retreat Movement were held at the Springfield Municipal Auditorium. The chief speaker was Rev. James M. Gillis, C.S.P., editor of the Catholic World, a New York publication. Attendance – 300 people.


  • March 17–A mid-week French Retreat was held with Fr. Louis Maillet, C.P. as the preacher.


  • January 8–A group of 37 young boys from Hartford, Weaver and Buckley High Schools made a weekend retreat. The retreat was sponsored by the Hartford Laymen’s Retreat League.

Chronicle History of Mother of Sorrows Retreat House