Jericho House puts down roots in Wainfleet, Ontario
An ecumenical retreat centre with a special focus on young people – nurturing their spiritual awareness, their sense of leadership, and their commitment to social and ecological justice – this is the vision of Jericho House, due to open at the start of 2011 in Ontario, Canada. Surrounded by a forest, close to a wetlands area, and a mere walk away from Lake Erie, the facility is ideally situated for making environmental awareness an element of its programmes.
The ministry known over the years as ‘Jericho House’ has always been centred on the gifts and potential of young people. It started back in 1986 in the basement of the Holy Cross Monastery in St John’s Newfoundland. Three years later, it moved to the Christian Brothers’ Canadian novitiate house in Mono Mills, Ontario, and in 1997 it moved to the Niagara region. Most recently it has been based in Welland, where it was also able to offer safe temporary accommodation to some 170 refugees over the past decade – an outreach programme that is now coming to an end.
Behind the project are Christian Brother Bill Carrothers and Franciscan Sister Jacquie O’Keefe. They are currently engaged in full-time youth ministry in the Niagara area, running full-day retreats and three-day programmes.
The new Jericho House is located in Wainfleet, thirty minutes from the Canadian town of Niagara and from the USA city of Buffalo. Situated on a 6,8 hectare piece of property, the 1,235 square-meter centre has meeting spaces, a chapel, 18 bedrooms able to accommodate up to 38 people, a dining area and kitchen, laundry facilities, as well as offices and living-quarters for staff. Costing $2,2 million, it has taken over ten years of arduous planning and fundraising led by Bill and Jacquie and the Jericho House Board. Encouragement came in the form of support from thousands of people who identified with their vision of nurturing the leadership in young people. Donations took many forms: cash, in-kind donations, time, ideas, support of fundraising events, and the waiving of certain fees involved.
The groundbreaking ceremony was held on an afternoon in mid-May and the building is now moving towards completion. Jericho House is open to bookings from the start of 2011, and is expected to prove an asset as a local centre for retreats, conferences, and workshops. But though it is open to all, its central purpose is to serve as a gathering place for young people – an environment where their leadership gifts are encouraged to grow.
constructed mainly from Newsletters of the Christian Brothers of North America