Fr. George Witt, SJ, (right) led the dedication ceremony and blessed the gardens. Frank Diassi, Jr. and his wife Marianne (left) have been instrumental in renovating and preserving the gardens that Mr. Diassi’s father tended to for decades.
Loyola Jesuit Center Gardens Dedicated to Faithful Groundskeeper

Nov. 2, 2015 – On a beautiful sunny and crisp fall afternoon volunteers, board of trustee members, friends and staff of Loyola Jesuit Center in Morristown, N.J., gathered in the gardens behind the 111-year-old mansion, to take part in a special dedication ceremony in memory of Frank Diassi, Sr., Loyola’s original groundskeeper. The ceremony on Oct. 11, was led by Fr. George Witt, SJ, provincial assistant for spiritual ministries in the USA, Northeast Province, who dedicated and blessed the gardens.  

An Italian immigrant, Diassi, Sr. served as the estate’s groundsman for decades, tending to the gardens in the 1920s for the original owners, the Foote family and later for the Jesuits who transformed the property into a place for silent contemplation and prayer.  

During the dedication, Frank Diassi, Jr. of Far Hills recalled memories of his father tending to the gardens at Loyola. He said his father walked two miles from his Harrison Street home in Morristown to Loyola every day through his early 80s. “He loved this place. He worked very hard and took pride in caring for the gardens as if they were his own,” said Diassi, Jr. of his late father. “The vegetables from my father’s garden even fed the clergy and those on retreat.”  

The gardens were renovated in 2010 through a gift from Frank Diassi Jr. and his wife Marianne to include new landscaping and a large reflection pool lined with benches for contemplative reflection. To complete the renovation, a new brick garden wall and fountains were donated by Sam Singer, a frequent retreatant and his wife, Nancy of Warren. “I know my father would be very proud of how the gardens look today and that they were dedicated to him,” said the junior Diassi.  

The gardens play an important role in the retreat experience at Loyola. “In this fast-paced world, it’s more important than ever to have a place to unplug from technology and plug-in to God.  The Frank Diassi, Sr. Memorial Gardens allow our retreatants the sacred space to do just that,” said Renee Owens, director, Loyola Jesuit Center. “With generous donations from the Diassi family, Singer family and other contributors, our gardens continue to grow in the same way we hope that those who come on retreat will continue to grow in their spiritual lives.” 

Loyola is planning future events in the Frank Diassi, Sr. Memorial Gardens such as garden tours with Fr. Bill Rakowicz, SJ, concerts and more. Visit or “Like” the Center’s Facebook page to stay up to date on all of the latest news, programs and events.    

Recent News

May 27, 2020 - Now more than ever, we invoke God to wipe away the darkness of anxiety, allowing us to be guided by the light of Christ and to trust in God’s promise of new life. Over the last few months, our Jesuit provinces have been in a place we don’t often find ourselves, a place that saw our schools closed, parishes empty, and the halls of our retreat centers giving new meaning to the word “silent.”

May 21, 2020 - Nativity Preparatory School in Boston has announced that Mr. Gadisa Goso has been named the next principal effective for the 2020-2021 academic year. Mr. Goso is member of Nativity Prep's class of 1997 and previously taught at Nativity.

May 19, 2020 — A new report released today from Jesuit Refugee Service/USA and the Jesuit Conference brings to life the real and often heart breaking consequences of US asylum policies.

May 18, 2020 — May marks the fifth anniversary of the publication of Laudato Si’. Through this landmark encyclical, Pope Francis called the Church and all people to transform our relationship with creation.

Dr. Joseph Sclafani, a member of the Ignatian Volunteer Corps in New York, is part of a team tasked with transcribing the diaries of Dorothy Day.

May 13, 2020 - Fr. Daniel Lahart, SJ, president of Regis High School recently asked one of the school’s alumni, Dr. Anthony Fauci, class of ’58, to record a video for the Jesuit graduates of 2020.

May 12, 2020 - Susan Baber has been named the Associate Provincial Assistant for Secondary Education for the new USA East Jesuit Province. The new province will come into being on July 31, Susan will assume this new role in August.

view all news

Search news

Loyola House of Retreats
Loyola House of Retreats is located on 30 acres of beautiful lawns, gardens and woodland in a quiet section of Morristown, N.J.