Jesuit retreat centre with Jonah Jones artwork to close

Scene & Word has learned that the Loyola Hall Spirituality Centre at Rainhill on Merseyside, where the chapel contains important artwork by Jonah Jones, is to close after Easter 2014.

During 1965–66 Jonah made a pair of large stained glass windows for Loyola Hall based on the “Immortal Diamond” image of the Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins [click here for the ‘Jonah Jones’ page on this website, then click the ‘Jonah Jones image galleries’ link: there are four images of windows at Loyola Hall,  numbers 21–24 in the  ‘stained glass’ set]. He also carved a fine wooden rood cross of the crucified Christ, a set of slate stations of the cross, and a concrete glass side window.

The Society of Jesus – the Jesuit Order – announced the closure on the Loyola Hall website on 12 March. The decision was made because there are now insufficient Jesuit priests to direct more than one large retreat centre. Residential retreats will continue to be provided at St Beuno’s Spirituality Centre in North Wales.

While no decision has yet been made about the future of the house and grounds at Loyola Hall, Fr Matthew Power, the Jesuit Superior at the centre, told Scene & Word that it was possible they would be leased out. He added that the Order did not want to put Jonah’s work at risk – it has always been loved and admired by those working at and visiting Loyola Hall. Scene & Word will keep in touch with Fr Power in case any concerns arise about the safeguarding of the artwork.

A celebration of 90 years of ministry at Loyola Hall took place on 31 July. During the thanksgiving mass in the chapel Fr Power paid tribute to Jonah’s work in his welcome remarks, and again the sacred art was mentioned in the litany of thanksgiving.