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3, 5, or 8 day,

by arrangement

Ongoing Spiritual


Theme Retreats In The Jesuit Tradition


Manresa Jesuit Spiritual Renewal Centre in Pickering
2325 Liverpool Road
Pickering, Ontario L1X 1V4
Tel: (905) 839-2864
Fax: (905) 839-7289

Fr. James O'Gorman Fleming, S.J.



Fr. James O'Gorman Fleming, S.J.

Fr. James O'Gorman Fleming, S.J.


Retreat-house director; born Eganville, Ontario, 25 May 1906, son of John T. Fleming and Barbara Roche; died Ajax, Ontario, 12 January 1974.

James O'Gorman Fleming entered the Society of Jesus on 14 August 1925 at Guelph, Ontario, after completing his studies in the Catholic high school in Eganville. He studied philosophy both at Immaculée-Conception, Montreal, and at the newly opened Jesuit Seminary in Toronto. From 1932-34 he taught at Regiopolis High School, Kingston, and for theology returned to Montreal. However, he took the third and fourth years at St. Marys, Kansas, where he was ordained on 24 June 1937. A year at Cleveland for spiritual theology completed his Jesuit training.

In August 1939 Fr. Fleming was named director of the Catholic Laymen's Retreat Association in Toronto. Jesuits had been giving retreats to lay groups in Toronto since 1925, but with the opening of the Jesuit Seminary in 1930 an association of men was founded for promoting such retreats at St. Augustine's Seminary, Scarborough, Ontario, and at Martyrs' Shrine, Midland. Fleming's chief task was to establish a retreat house but under wartime conditions it took five years to achieve this goal. He had to be satisfied with a large unused area in the Jesuit Seminary building, but the number of weekend retreats increased rapidly. In cooperation with the Daughters of the Heart of Mary, who had a retreat house for women in Toronto, Fleming also had a role in promoting retreats for laywomen.

The cramped quarters at the Seminary on Wellington Street West proved most unsuitable for retreats. At the end of World War II Fleming and some of the retreatants, notably lawyer Thomas J. Day, found a more suitable site at Erindale in Mississauga. Manresa Retreat House opened there in 1946 but very soon it was evident that the building was too small and noise from an adjoining recreation area on the Credit River too distracting.

In November 1949 the retreat house was relocated to a site north of Pickering, about twenty miles east of Toronto. For twenty-three years Fleming with many Jesuit and lay collaborators not only organized and directed weekend retreats for both women and men but also maintained and enlarged the facilities. Fleming himself did not direct many retreats but was always present and available for consultation.

Another responsibility assigned to Fleming in 1939 was that of National Secretary for the Sodality of Our Lady (now reorganized and known as Christian Life Communities). A group of the retreat house associates formed such a Sodality whose principal activity is recruiting new retreatants.

From the outset Fleming learned from the many people he counselled the serious effects of alcohol abuse on individuals and the impact on their families. He attended the inaugural meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous in Toronto and later addressed the first national convention in Toronto on the Twelve Steps. One of the founders of AA was present and asked to use Fleming's talk for publication. As early at 1946 Manresa's yearly schedule included several retreats for alcoholics. In the midst of all this activity Fleming remained shy and retiring. Chronic hearing problems may have been the cause of this. However, he estimated that over twenty-three years he had met and talked to, or at least seen, about 40,000 retreatants at Manresa.

His steadfastness and wise counsel helped many who had been introduced to a deeper life of faith in a weekend retreat at Manresa. In 1973 he relinquished his responsibilities at the retreat house and died of a heart attack shortly after.



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