Season of Creation an invitation to pray

While the Season of Creation may focus Christians on the environment for a month, it’s a year-round commitment for the Sisters of St. Joseph, according to Sr. Mary Rowell. The sisters run the Villa St. Joseph Ecology and Retreat Centre in Cobourg, Ont., where they maintain 80 community garden plots and run ecologically focussed retreats for men and women.

“Prayer remains the foundation and allows for understanding of the presence of God in the beauty and integrity of nature, and in each human person,” said Rowell.

Sr. Linda Gregg links environmental commitment to the Trinity. If God exists as a relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit, humans must see relationship as the core of their existence, she said. Our first relationship is with our environment.

“As Pope Francis points out, we are of this Earth and we need her clean air, fresh and clean waters and nourishment for our bodies,”

Sept 9, 2018

Catholic Register

Sisters in Ontario blend ecology and spirituality in retreat center ministry.

With master's degrees and doctorates in eco-theology and eco-ethics, St. Joseph Srs. Linda Gregg and Mary Rowell run the Villa St. Joseph Ecology and Spirituality Centre in Cobourg, Ontario. The two teach university eco-theology courses from the center, which also houses a large community garden, and offer retreats and reflection for all faiths focused on the interconnectedness of spirituality and the Earth.  <read more>

Ontario’s Jesuits use retreats to help homeless build community

Ontario’s Jesuits are using retreats as a way to help homeless people build a caring community of support among themselves.

“While on a physical level, many people experiencing homelessness have to spend a lot of time in very close proximity to others, it can nonetheless be very lonely,” said Ted Penton, a Jesuit in formation at Regis College. “It is very difficult to know whom you can trust ... (and) this results in a real guardedness in dealing with fellow clients. But on retreat, we hear repeatedly that people discover they are not alone.” <read more>

April 30, 2016

Catholic Register

Christians have much to do to achieves goals of climate accord

Maybe Pope Francis got his wish.

On Earth Day, April 22, 175 world leaders signed the Paris Accord on climate change — a new one-day record for any international agreement. Fifteen countries immediately ratified it, making it law in those countries.

Justin Trudeau put his name on the Paris Accord, and committed to making the treaty binding on Canada by October of this year. Ratification will come with greenhouse gas emission targets and a plan for Canada to reach these goals.

...“We’re only just beginning,” said Sr. Linda Gregg, director of the Villa St. Joseph Retreat and Ecology Centre in Cobourg, Ont. “As a Catholic community, as a Christian community and as a global community we really need to address this.” <read more>

Sept 27, 2015

Catholic Register

Villa St. Joseph stresses care for God’s creation

Even before Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ was released to the world in June, Villa St. Joseph Retreat and Ecology Centre in Cobourg, Ont., was teaching others about the importance of caring for all of God’s creation.

Sr. Linda Gregg and Sr. Mary Rowell, Sisters of St. Joseph, have worked to help co-ordinate retreats, events and special seminars that integrate eco-theology in a practical way.

Rowell said it’s important that the retreat centre cultivates green space that allows visitors an opportunity to be still. <read more>

Call to action on the environment

Now is the time Catholics need to prepare for a new urgency and a new way of thinking about our tradition and the natural world. We have to claim a new or renewed intimacy with creation.


In anticipation of the encyclical on the environment by Pope Francis with the English title Praise Be and due out June 18, Green Spirit TV has just released an educational video series on papal teachings about the environment, filled with concrete expressions of ecological justice by key religious and lay leaders across Canada. <read more>

June 13, 2015

Catholic Register

Connecting with nature in Cobourg, Ontario

Not many retreat houses can boast that guests will be greeted by Noah himself. But, then, there aren’t many retreat houses like the Villa St. Joseph Spirituality Centre in Cobourg, Ont.

Noah is the Centre’s friendly golden retriever. He is seen regularly patrolling the spacious grounds,  providing emotional and spiritual warmth but also reminding visitors of the Villa’s deep connection to nature.

March 29, 2012

Catholic Register