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Medaille Retreat House was founded in 1969 as a community retreat centre where members of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph could stay to spend time in prayer and contemplation. The house was named after Fr. Jean-Pierre Medaille, who established the Sisters of St. Joseph at Le Puy, France in 1650. The building which became Medaille House was located on Windermere Road. The grounds had originally belonged to Hellmuth College, and when the property was sold, some of the land was purchased by the Sisters of St. Joseph. In 1912, an eight-acre property adjoining Hellmuth College was also purchased, but later sold to the Nelles family who built a home and a gardener's house which they called Norwood Place, likely after the name of the original house built by Bishop Hellmuth which was named Norwood House. In 1943, the Sisters purchased the property back, and renamed the building St. Joseph's House of Studies. This building accommodated Sisters studying at the University of Western Ontario between 1949 and 1960.In 1960, the building was rented to Dr. J. J. McCredie. When the lease expired in 1969, it was decided to use the building as a community retreat centre, and it became Medaille Retreat House later that year. Sisters visited the retreat house for varying lengths of time ranging from a few hours of prayer to retreats lasting for several weeks.
Beginning in 1975 with their “Time Out” program, a 48-hour retreat for single mothers, Medaille House welcomed members of the public for courses and retreat experiences. Groups from churches, educational institutions, community organizations, and health care facilities attended programs at the retreat centre. In addition to the many programs designed to offer peace and spiritual connection, a beautiful labyrinth was added to the grounds in 1998 as a walking meditation tool. In response to a growing need, the Sisters created a new space for service and instruction in the Ignatia Hall auditorium at Mount St. Joseph. Located on the first floor, the newly refurbished space was called Medaille Program Centre. Programs began here in the fall of 1990, running until 2006.
During its years of greatest activity, Medaille House welcomed over 2,000 participants over an eight-month period from September 1992 to May 1993. After a closing ceremony on October 30, 2004, Medaille House moved to a new property, formerly known as Highview, at 545 Fanshawe Park Road West. The new Medaille House location opened on March 2, 2005. The original building on Windermere Road was demolished in July, 2005 in order to build the new Motherhouse. The demolition involved Habitat for Humanity volunteers participating in the dismantling so that materials could be re-cycled through the Re-Store. Programs at Medaille Program Centre were discontinued in 2006. In 2012, the Medaille Retreat House finally closed.
Today the CSJ Spirituality Centre carries on the work of Medaille House by providing spiritual direction, while retreats may still be arranged at the new Motherhouse on Windermere Road.
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