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Retreat Center Mission and History
We are a Passionist Retreat Center, dedicated to preaching the Passion of Jesus Christ. We welcome all who wish to hear the message of the Passion through our traditions of preaching, hospitality, and compassion. We place our focus on the Passion of Jesus Christ and its relevance in the lives of people today. We also foster and promote spiritual growth and renewal through Passionist retreat programs, and by providing a peaceful environment of prayer and reflection.
History of Mater Dolorosa
The site of Mater Dolorosa Monastery and Retreat Center was acquired by the Passionists in 1924. It was an 83 acre plot, at an elevation of about 1200 feet, originally called Monte Olivette, commanding a sweeping view from Los Angeles central city to the eastern limits of the San Gabriel Valley. Behind the retreat center, the San Gabriel Mountains rise sharply. Some Passionists resided at St. Rita’s Parish in Sierra Madre, where Passionists served from 1923 until 1951. Others lived at a farm house on the property.
The first retreat at Mater Dolorosa was preached under the “old rubber tree,” a Moreton Bay Fig, which still stands on the property. Mater Dolorosa Monastery, dedicated in 1932, was the first in Holy Cross Province to be constructed precisely for a men’s retreat movement. The community lived on the second floor, and the retreatants occupied the first and third floors. By 1950 they had outgrown the space and a separate structure was built uphill from the monastery. The new structure brought the capacity to 70 retreatants on a weekend. Additional expansion took place in 1985, adding another 17 retreatant rooms, two meeting rooms, and living space for the retreat director and those on extended personal retreat.
In 1991 an earthquake devastated the monastery and it subsequently was demolished. In its place a beautiful Monastery Memorial Gardens was created in 1999. This area consists of the Garden of Seven Sorrows, the Plaza of the Sacred Heart, and an amphitheater. Following the earthquake, the Community lived in the former convent at Assumption Parish in Pasadena, but now have returned to live in the Retreat Center. From the Community residence, Passionists serve as the retreat team, in parishes and other ministries within the Archdiocese.
Mater Dolorosa has been providing retreats since 1926. The program has expanded over the years, and today retreats are offered for men, women and married couples in English and Spanish. Hosted programs are available for high school groups, other Catholic programs as well as many ecumenical groups
Today, more than 10,000 individuals grace the retreat center and grounds annually which includes men, women married couples, people in 12-step and AA recovery, Archdiocese of Los Angeles clergy and lay persons, high school and college students, faculty, Mass participants and visitors to special events.
Additionally, 2,500-3,000 people visit on Good Friday to walk and pray our uniquely beautiful Stations of the Cross.
What I liked best was almost everything – the fine talks, comfortable accommodations, excellent nutritious meals and the beautiful surroundings. What I like least – when it was time to go. ~Ed V.
This place is a gift from God and I am so thankful for what it has meant in my life. I hope it will be here for generations to come. ~Len C.
I completely appreciated the alone time, and the silence – it created in me the ability to slow down and be with God. ~Anon
Our retreat center is committed to creating a place for people to have a place to “get away” for prayer, spiritual renewal and refreshment.
In order to make this possible, we need your help! There are many ways you can share your gifts and talents to further the mission of Jesus Christ. If you are interested in any of the following, please let us know by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dining room hospitality
- Work on the Summer Annual Fiesta
- Answering the telephone
Other volunteer skills needed:
- Painting, electrical, plumbing
- Gardening, landscaping
- Kitchen help, cooking
- Musical support
- Office help – data entry, word processing, accounting
Thank you for your help!