Beginning days at 58 Primrose Avenue:  September, 1997


best primrose houseCommunity is a "gift" of the Spirit and we celebrate the emergence of these new Little Design communities as one of our most treasured Pentecost graces. It happened that many persons who had been coming regularly to The Upper Room to participate in retreats, spiritual direction and programs over the years now found themselves expressing their desire to share in our lifestyle and mission - yet not become associates or vowed members of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph.

These contemplative men and women, felt called to live independently and inter-dependently, connected with us in a "little, hidden and self-emptied manner in the world" - living in their own homes, apartments, neighbourhoods, or however God calls each one.

Since September, 1997, persons of all walks of life have been gathering either at our Home of Prayer - or now in their own homes - every four to six weeks to share hearts and be encouraged in the spiritual journey. These small faith communities are exploring the prophetic vision of our founder, a Jesuit priest, Father Jean-Pierre M├ędaille. 

Deeply connecting with the aspirations in the hearts of his directees... and moved by profound SPIRIT revelation .... he writes a description of a way of community life for lay persons in his text, The Eucharistic Letter. He called it "The Little Design" community.

Copies of this Letter are available at The Upper Room upon request. (Click on the Eucharistic Letter link here and print)


Our cherished association is to be a body
without a body,
and if I dare say it,
a congregation without a congregation 
and perhaps in time, 
a religious order without being
a religious order.
In a word, it will never appear to be anything, 
in the world,
and it will be in the eyes of God
whatever he,
in his infinite mercy 
                                              is pleased to make of his Institute."                                  
(Jean-Pierre M├ędaille, SJ)

picture 005Now at 68 Centrepointe Drive...

This wonderfully graced movement continued to grow when we moved out to 68 Centrepointe Drive in 1998. 

When we realized that the community group was becoming too large for ongoing intimate sharing of hearts we discerned that it was time to begin a Newcomers group. These seemed to grow up organically alongside the core communities. That is how we have been evolving over the past years. 

Over the years many women (and a few men) have come and experienced the Little Design way of life. However, it is not a form of community that suits everyone and some have moved on to find community elsewhere. We have had a men's Little Design community begin and they decided to take a pause for awhile. We await what Spirit calls forth in the future for our men's Little Design. In the fall of 2011, four couples formed a Little Design Community. Sr. Rosemary goes to their different homes for the monthly gathering guiding the teaching and animating the conversations. Now, after a year, they met on their own.  
From our lived experience here in Ottawa, Canada, it seems that the "Little Design Communties" are attracting contemplative souls who need less structure and organization and thrive in the freedom and simplicity of listening daily to the movements of God within their own hearts and within the world... Hopefully, our actions flow from our contemplative listening!


As of JANUARY 1, 2022, we are 72 members - 14 small Little Design communities  - make up the core community in Ottawa and area. We give thanks to God for the blessing and joys of our little community!