Chronicle History of Mother of Sorrows Retreat House 1950s and 1960s

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  • September 4–A 25th Anniversary Mass was celebrated outdoors by Very Reverend Ernest Welch, C.P., Provincial for the Eastern Province.
  • September 9–A Mass for the 25th Anniversary of Mother of Sorrows was held. Most Reverend Albert Deane, C.P. of Rome, Superior General of the Passionists, was celebrant. Bishop Weldon delivered the sermon.
  • September 14–Twenty-fifth Anniversary Banquet of the Mother of Sorrows Retreat League was held in the gymnasium of Our Lady of the Elms College. Principals attending: Bishop Weldon, Archbishop Cushing, Bishop O’Brien (Hartford) and Fr. Gilbert, C.P.


  • April 28-Bishop Weldon broke ground with the first shovelful of dirt for the construction of the new addition of the Mother of Sorrows Retreat House.


  • December 2–An Open House for the addition to Retreat House was held for the public to see the $1,150,000 addition. New Staff. Fr. Gilbert Walser, C.P., Fr. John C. Ryan, C.P., Fr. Bertin Donahue, C.P.
  • Record of some retreat attendance and donations:
    • St. Joseph (French), Springfield, 64
    • St. Patrick (Cbicopee), 52
    • St. Mary’s (Longmeadow), 76
    • K. of C. (Holyoke) donated $3,000 for the new wing.
    • St. Benard’s Retreat Unit donated $ 100.
    • Northampton K. of C. Council put on Passion Play (March 26-27) hoping to raise $1,500.
    • Fisk Tire of U.S. Rubber (Chicopee) sponsored a Communion breakfast also, of the Holyoke hoping by this endeavor to raise a large donation.


  • Retreat attendance for January, February, March and April- 1669. Average 104 per week. Non Catholics for the four months – 25. It was this year that the Mother of Sorrows Guild was established. A $2.00 donation was requested.
  • There were three retreats this summer: July 26-28, 118 men; August 2-4, 119 men; August 9-11, 119 men – six non-Catholics.
  • August 4–Retreat Master Bertin Donahue, C.P., died.
  • November–New Retreat Master is Fr. Julian O’Connor, C.P.
  • Number of retreatants for 1957 – 4848 men. There were 49 weekend retreats, three mid-week retreats, three Priests’ retreats – 280 priests. New retreatants for the year – 1690.


  • Marble figure of St. Paul of the Cross placed at the Retreat House entrance.
  • At the National Retreat Conference in Cincinnati it was reported that Mother of Sorrows Retreat League was the fifth largest in the nation.


  • February 18-Richard Cardinal Cushing conducted two Days of Recollection for the priests of the diocese.
  • A Play-at-Home Card party netted $13,000 for the Retreat House. William Dean and Tim Sullivan K. of C. Council were the Co-chairmen.
  • New assignments – Fr. Bertrand Weaver, C.P., Retreat House Director and Fr. Donald McInnis, C.P., Associate Retreat Director.
  • Report of 1959 attendance: 4959 retreatants … this includes Worcester Chapter.


  • June–Bishop Flanagan of Worcester diocese establishes a Passionist Retreat House in the Diocese of Worcester. This new Retreat House began with 1,500 West Springfield retreatants.
  • October–A new Retreat Director comes to Mother of Sorrows Retreat House. Fr. Gilbert Walser, C.P., leaves and goes to Shrewsbury to develop a new Retreat House.
  • 1960 Attendance: 5424 retreatants.


  • Fr. Berard, C.P., begins his new assignment.
  • First retreat for Protestant clergy at a Catholic retreat house at Marydale Retreat House in Erlanger, Kentucky.


  • Evenings of Recollection were introduced on an experimental basis.
  • Ten year retreat lapel pins were introduced.
  • Passionist Retreat House in North Palm Beach, Florida, opened on June 14, 1962.
  • September–Fr. Thomas Sullivan, C.P., becomes the new Retreat Master.


  • June–Fr. Clement Buckley, C.P., succeeds Fr. Sullivan as Retreat Master.
  • September 1–The new “A” frame building opened for “The Hour of the Crucified” radio program with Fr. Fidelis, C.P., as its Director.
  • November 22-24-The 49th Air Force men flew down from Goose Bay, Labrador, for a weekend retreat.


  • Fr. Edward (Bruce) Buchheit, C.P., arrives at Mother of Sorrows Retreat House for his first assignment– Associate Retreat Director.


  • May 5-7–The first weekend retreat at Shrewsbury’s Calvary Retreat House.
  • President of the Retreat League, Jim Britton, is appointed by Bishop John J. Wright, as representative for Mother of Sorrows to National Catholic Laymen’s Retreat Conference.


  • Fr. Norbert Dorsey, C.P., appointed Rector of our Monastery.


  • May 30–An outdoor Mass on the grounds of the Retreat House celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the canonization of St. Paul of the Cross, founder of the Passionists.
  • May 12–An all-silent weekend retreat was held.
  • August 25-27–The first Couples Retreat (28 couples)
  • September–Fr. Justinian Manning, newly-appointed Retreat Master, conducted the retreat.
  • New Retreat Schedule: February 2-4, College retreat; March 12-14, Dentists’ retreat; May 10-12, high school retreat.


  • Fr. Berard moved from being Retreat House Director to Rector.
  • September–Beginning of the new Team concept. Fr. Tom Griffith, Retreat Director, Fr. Xavier Hayes, Fr. Lucian Clark, Fr. Bonaventure Gonnella, Fr. Hillary Sweeney, Br. James Johnson.


  • May–First promotion meeting eight weeks prior to retreat. This was to assist retreat chairmen.
  • June 6-8–First Marriage workshop run by Dr. Plouf.
  • August–Fr. Thomas Griffith retires as Director and Fr. Leo Gorman becomes new Director.

Chronicle History of Mother of Sorrows Retreat House