MARANATHA had its beginning in 1990-1991 during the Jesuit Twin Celebration of the 500th anniversary of St Ignatius of Loyola and the 450th anniversary of the Society of Jesus.
Bishop Paul Tan, SJ, the then Jesuit Regional Superior of the Jesuits in Malaysia-Singapore, wrote for the JTC souvenir magazine:
"The centenary celebration will have a ripple effect in the lives of God’s people……(to) enable our people to have a glimpse of the dynamism at work in the hearts and minds of the Jesuits as people become more familiar with the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius, and as people collaborate closely with us in the implementation of the centenary programme."
"Our prayer is that the Lay Collaborators will continue to walk with us carrying out the mission of Jesus Christ in the Ignatian way. It is our hope that the enthusiasm generated during the JTC will not wane. Although we cannot keep up the momentum, we can at least keep up the fervour."
MARANATHA is one of the fruits of that dynamism of the Spiritual Exercises. It was an initiative of the four lay members of the planning committee of the Twin Celebration, Gabrielle Yang, Peggy Goh, Judith Koh, and Grace Chung, and the director of the JTC, Fr. Jojo Fung, SJ to continue with the momentum of the ripple effect of the Spiritual Exercises in the lives of people.
The then Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, Soter Fernandez (now Emeritus Archbishop), in a published letter dated 3rd Jan 1992, assured of his support and prayers for the project, and noted that the retreat house would be organised and run by the laity.
A pro-temp committee of lay volunteers was set up, and a search for suitable land to build the retreat house began in 1992. It was the late Jordan Lee who found the property at Janda Baik, and who helmed the Committee in those critical years, and brought to fruition the long years of persistent and faithful commitment to the project.
After 15 years of searching for an appropriate place, raising funds, and building, facing challenges as well as receiving support, MARANATHA was launched and opened at Easter 2004, by His Grace Most Rev. Tan Sri Murphy Nicholas Xavier Pakiam, DD.
MARANATHA is the realisation of a shared vision and commitment of many lay volunteers and benefactors who supported generously of their time, expertise and skills. It was possible through active Jesuit-lay partnership.
MARANATHA is more than just bricks and mortar. It will give witness to the rich legacy of St Ignatius through the promotion of the Spiritual Exercises. It will give those who wish to live life anew, a deeper and personal relationship with God, and enable them to respond in action for God’s greater glory.
Committed lay volunteers gave and continue to give freely of their skills and gifts, to the bricks and mortar matters, and benefactors of the project engaged in its progress and supported the formation of the lay spiritual directors. The collaborative effort is based on mutual respect of the charisms and gifts, and on trust and transparency of those involved in establishing the retreat house, and keeping faithful to the vision and mission of the collaboration.
The unique feature of MARANATHA is its resource of local, regional and international ignatian retreat directors trained in the Spiritual Exercises are invited to give retreats and formation. This has also helped to build Jesuit–Lay colleagueship in the promotion of the Spiritual Exercises, and meet the need for resource persons for the retreat house.
This has helped to build jesuit lay-collaborative international promotion of the spiritual exercises as a way of growing spiritual relationship with God, with others, and the church.
We are grateful for the support of Jesuits from abroad and lay and other religious who see MARANATHA as an international ministry, and welcome the lay collaborative leadership.
Another feature of MARANATHA is the ecumenical nature of the retreat house, being open and encompassing to those from different Christian traditions for retreats and formation.