Craighead Retreat House

History of the centre

Craighead Retreat House was a full-time residential retreat house at Bothwell in beautiful grounds by the River Clyde. It was given up because it became structurally unstable, and because the new dual carriageway to East Kilbride cut off easy access to the house, and made coming to retreat something of an exploration.

There was much discussion about what and where should follow Craighead, and opinion ranged from a residential retreat house deep in the countryside, to please the eye and the soul of retreatants, and a non-residential centre, more accessible to users, in the city of Glasgow.

The latter view prevailed and a suitable property was found near the house being bought for the Jesuit Community in Woodside Place, near the M8, so we ended up with the Jesuits in No. 10 and the Spirituality Centre in No.7.

Retreat Centre at WoodsideThere were certain anomalies with the set up: the administration office was on the first floor, thus giving the newly appointed secretary plenty of exercise each time the door bell rang. The conference and coffee rooms were on the ground floor, while the chapel was in the basement and the interview rooms on the top floor, enabling the rain to get in along with directees.

During the time at Woodside the centre was asked by the University to help with a conference in the theology department which was a considerable success; a new course was added, ‘Integration for Ministry’; various courses for training spiritual directors and helping clergy were initiated, together with courses in prayer and reflective living; a pilgrimage-retreat to the island of Islay underlined the Scottish Celtic nature of our centre; courses in art and spirituality, the Enneagram and various others came and went, while some continue. And, of course, a constant stream of people came through our doors for our ongoing work in individual spiritual direction.

In one significant way the Centre made Jesuit history when Ruth Holgate, a laywoman, was appointed director. The team evolved to become truly ecumenical. 

By the early 2000’s the ageing Jesuit Community found the walk over the M8 to St Aloysius Church and the College too onerous, so it was decided to move to a new-build site on Hill Street. The original intention had been just to have the community move, but as the Council wanted to keep the building on the same level as the rest of the street an extra floor had to be added, so it was decided to move the Ignatian Spirituality Centre as well. 
So the Centre moved closer to the City Centre in its first purpose-built site which opened in 2006.

Currently the centre can fit 50 people in the Conference Room, and about 25 each in the Chapel and Art Room.