The Lay Retreat Association of Saint Ignatius is based in Milltown Park, Dublin 6. This association is a group of lay men and women who organise and promote retreats at weekends. The LRA, a Jesuit apostolate, was founded in Rathfarnham Retreat House by Fr Eugene Ward S.J. in 1945. It arose out of a retreat movement which commenced some years earlier in Rathfarnham Castle and which in turn owed its origins to the efforts in France of Fr Watrigant S.J. in the 1880s and was introduced into Ireland by Fr. Willie Doyle S.J. in the early 1900s. It was Fr Willie’s ambition to open a retreat house in Dublin for working men.
This only came to fruition after Fr. Willie’s death, and the location was Rathfarnham Castle, then in Jesuit hands. The building of the retreat house began in 1918 and opened its doors to the first retreatants in 1921/22.
Most retreatants come from Dublin, though many more come from areas as far away as Donegal, Galway, or Leitrim. Ladies are now making a big contribution since first joining in March 1988. So the LRA is still alive and well, though struggling at times but hopefully doing it’s best, placing its full confidence in the Holy Spirit. The active support of the retreat houses, which continue to provide the accommodation, has been most helpful in the development of the apostolate. The LRA is most thankful and appreciative of that support.
In a busy world, it is easy to understand Jesus saying to His busy apostles: “Come away by yourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile” [Mk 6:31].