Sacred Heart Jesuit Center
The Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos is a place I visit frequently, as I have an elderly uncle, a retired Jesuit priest, in the infirmary there. (Another uncle, also a member of the Society of Jesus, passed away there in late 2017.) I try to go about once a week, but if he’s ill, I’ll pop in more frequently. We visit, attend Mass, and have lunch together.
This is private property, just past the Testarossa Winery, so I’m not encouraging people to wander up there. But it is very serene and beautiful, and often I’m taken with the peace and beauty of the place. Most Los Gatans will never visit in person, so I like to share some of my favorite photos of Sacred Heart Jesuit Center here from time to time. The link in the first sentence will bring you to another article about what used to be “The Novitiate” with a slideshow at the bottom.
At the end of the driveway is a lookout point, but before that is a Grotto honoring Our Lady of Lourdes and showing a statue of St. Bernadette in prayer.
Taken this week, below please find a closeup of the statue of St. Bernadette in prayer, gazing upward toward the apparition of Our Lady, surrounded by beautiful calla lilies.
Next, a photo of the Grotto taken in summer 2016 (during the drought), and found in the slideshow at my earlier post about SHJC. (If you Google Lourdes Grotto and see the photos, you’ll recognize the layout.) On crowded days, this area fills up with cars, unfortunately, as there are not a lot of parking areas. In recent years, two Jesuit provinces have merged and now all of the west coast Jesuits in a retirement home, assisted living, or infirmary living situation are here. More care takers and other employees are here as well, hence the parking overflow.
Photo of The Grotto at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center taken in June 2016
I’m fortunate to be able to visit family here at Sacred Heart. An added bonus for me is seeing some of my former college professors and classmates there as well. It feels like an extension of home since I have been there countless times. And yet I often see something new, or see something in a new light.
There are moments where both the natural beauty and the religious meaning of artwork truly strike me. St. Bernadette’s feast day is April 16th, yesterday, the day I took the photo of her statue among the lilies. Getting in my car, parked right next to it, I was inspired by the way the light hit the statue and the flowers. I had not realized that it was her feast day when I felt pulled to photograph it. Isn’t life just like that sometimes?
You can read more about the Society of Jesus, also known as The Jesuits, here:
http://Jesuits.org/ (site for the order, which is the largest religious order of Catholic men in the world)
https://JesuitsWest.org/ the site for this province, which includes California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, and Hawaii
Perhaps you’ve driven over Highway 17 from Los Gatos to Santa Cruz and wondered about the large white building off to the left, perched on a knoll overlooking the valley and that same highway. That’s the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, now a retirement home for Jesuit priests and brothers (members of the Society of Jesus) for the provinces of California, Oregon, and Washington (now collectively known as “Jesuits West”). Many decades ago, it was the novitiate for the California province, meaning it’s where young men entered the order. Two of my uncles did just that. I am a fairly frequent visitor to this lovely place now, as one of my uncles has gone full circle and has retired where he first entered. Some of my old professors from Gonzaga University in Spokane are there, too, as well as Jesuits that I knew growing up in the area.
So today I wanted to share some photos with you, as many people living in Los Gatos would have no occasion to visit what my family still calls The Novitiate. However, Testarossa Winery is next door (at what used to be the Jesuit Winery), so many of my readers will have been close. Please enjoy the photos, which I took last Saturday while there to see my uncle.