The Centre’s 600 acres of land has acquired an importance that neither the pioneering Jesuits nor Farm Community could have foreseen when they began caring for it. All those who are connected with the Ignatius Jesuit Centre land realize the powerful and lasting impact it has had on their life and work. This land is truly sacred and it represents the sacredness that is all of creation.
Over the years we have tried to capture this sentiment through various installments. We refer to these as Sacred Spaces. Some are simple and natural, while others are more formal and intricately designed. These spaces can found on our trail map. Here are a few:
The Labyrinth suggests a Chartres Cathedral design — a reworking of the ancient labyrinth geometry in which an equal armed cross is emphasized.
Typically, there are three stages to walking the labyrinth: “releasing” on the way in, “receiving” in the center and “returning” when you follow the path back out of the labyrinth. Symbolically, you are taking back out into the world that which you have received.
The Labyrinth is located alongside the driveway to Loyola House, just above the Jesuit Cemetery. There is also a smaller stone Labyrinth of the same design located along the Great Auk Trail. Click here to see our Labyrinth brochure.
Stations of the Cosmos
Thomas Berry, Passionist priest and eco-theologian, argued that our culture needs a New Story to guide it into a less destructive ecological age. Such a story integrates the scientific story of evolution with the experience of a sacred presence within the universe. By way of a spiral meditative walk, the Stations of the Cosmos depicts significant moments in this Story. Unique to the meditative walk is the incorporation of stations depicting the development of religion, the Stations of the World Religions, and the traditional Stations of the Cross. The latter is a devotion practiced by Christians for many centuries, depicting the story of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. See the Guide for Praying the Stations of the Cosmos for more information.
The Stations were completed in 2009 and are located in the area next to the greenhouse and the community gardens. We are grateful to the Catherine Donnelly Foundation and individual donors for support of this project.
In 2018, the Centre’s Land department, in partnership with Pollination Guelph, installed a 1500 square foot demonstration pollinator garden by the Loyola House Retreat Centre. The pollinator garden showcases plants that are beneficial to the native bees, butterflies, flies, beetles, wasps, ants, and moths. The garden provides much needed habitat, sources of food, shelter, nesting, and overwintering sites for pollinators. It attracts and supports the pollinators needed for fruit and vegetable production in the nearby community gardens, CSA farm fields, and apple orchard.
While pollinators may be small, their impact on the environment cannot be underestimated. Over three quarters of flowering plants require insects for pollination, which provides food for humans and wildlife, and is essential for the health and sustainability of our natural environment.
The pollinator garden, with its seated meditation space, harmonizes well with the vision of a world of peace, connecting all people to God and to Creation. This garden is the first pollinator garden, as there are now more pollinator gardens at the Centre’s land or are in the development stages.
Each of the more than 200,000 Peace Poles worldwide carry the message “May Peace Prevail On Earth” in a variety of languages and dedicate the surrounding space as a place of peace. The Ignatius Peace Pole is located near the Stations and was erected in May of 2009.
Living willow dome
Living willow dome structures originated with Native American sweat–lodge ceremonies in which sauna-like conditions were created to purify the mind, body and spirit.
Although never used for sweat–lodge ceremonies, the Ignatius willow dome is a unique and enigmatic space. Unlike contemporary rituals that focus on clarifying a narrative of “self”, willow dome ceremonies evoke prayer and respect for others, for community and for the Earth. The willow dome was originally installed from a willow plantation by volunteers on behalf of the Spark of Brilliance organization.
Over time the willow dome had slowly degraded to the point of needing to be refurbished. Late in 2015, Ignatius Land staff disassembled the original dome. All the material from the original was chipped back into the dome to act as a carpet of wood mulch. Under the guidance of Barbara Long, one of the weavers of the original dome, and with help from a local high school group, the willow dome was re-weaved with willow cut from the surrounding willow plantation.
The willow dome is located in the willow plantation behind St. Brigid’s Villa.