Wendy Passmore has been a spiritual director for more than 20 years, helping to guide both clergy and laity on their faith journeys. Now she is branching out to provide workshops and retreats at the newly opened Centre for Spiritual Growth, located at St. James, Orillia.
“It has always been in my heart to somehow recover the contemplative tradition from our Christian past,” says Ms. Passmore. “It’s really about inviting people into quiet prayer, meditation and attending to their inner life with God.”
The centre, located in a room at the church, offers Ignatian and Franciscan spiritual exercises to deepen one’s prayer life, spiritual direction, retreats and programs. There are also plans to create a chapel and a small library. The room was provided with the blessing of the church’s incumbent, the Rev. Canon John Anderson.
“It’s a very warm, creative space for spiritual renewal and refreshment,” says Ms. Passmore. “Our hope is that it will be a centre not just for the St. James community but for all of central Ontario.”
Ms. Passmore runs the centre along with the Rev. Canon Elizabeth Morley, a retired priest who has served in many parishes in the diocese, and Faye Oei, a parishioner and retired lawyer. It opened in September.
Ms. Passmore hopes the centre will be a way for seekers find their way into a church and the Christian faith. “We want to connect with people from all walks of life, to be a presence and to listen to their stories.”
Trained in both the Franciscan and Ignatian spiritual disciplines, Ms. Passmore has extensive experience in guiding and helping people on their faith journeys. She was the coordinator of a Christian storefront ministry in Mississauga for 10 years and served in a leadership role at a retreat centre, providing spiritual direction for individuals and groups. She is a member of St. James, Orillia.
“When I look at my life path, I’ve always enjoyed listening to people’s stories,” she says. “That’s my passion – I just love tending to people’s stories and listening to where God is at work in their lives and where God is calling them to. I find one-on-one and small groups very life-giving.”
The centre is offering two workshops in November. On Nov. 3, the Rev. Sandor Borbely, a former Jesuit priest and the incumbent of St. Thomas, Shanty Bay, will lead a workshop on “Christian Mindfulness.” On Nov. 17, there will be a workshop on relationships featuring “Safe Conversation” techniques. For more information on these and other activities at the centre, visit www.stjamesorillia.com/bulletin-board/centre-for-spiritual-growth.