February 5, 2021
The Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chestnut Hill today announced the permanent closure of Saint Mary by-the-Sea, a congregationally owned and operated retreat houselocated in Cape May Point, NJ. (02/05/2021)
We, the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, PA, have owned and operated ourbeautiful retreat house, Saint Mary by-the-Sea, Cape May Point, NJ, since 1909, providing retreats forsisters and laity for more than 100 years. In October 2016, the Congregation announced that Saint Maryby-the-Sea, the large main retreat house located at 101 Lehigh Avenue, would function as a retreathouse through at least 2021. However, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the cancellation of our 2020and 2021 retreat programming at Saint Mary by-the-Sea. Therefore, we bring our ministry at Saint Mary’sto a close.
Thousands have been part of this holy history, and Saint Mary’s has been blessed by the generosity andlove of staff, volunteers, and retreatants. The Sisters of Saint Joseph, our Associates in Mission, sistersof other congregations, clergy and our lay brothers and sisters have encountered God in this sacredplace and have also been a prayerful presence to the Cape May Point community.
The heartbreaking and difficult decision to close the facility was the result of comprehensive planning thatclearly identified the need for the divestment of this property. Given its beachfront location and ourcongregational commitment to care for Earth, our desire is to return this land to nature rather than use itfor further development. We will make plans to ritualize the closing and celebrate the sacredness of ourretreat house.
As Sisters of Saint Joseph, we value our mission to "live and work so that all people may be united withGod and with one another.” We will continue to reflect with our sisters and others on creative ways toshare our lives, our mission, and our spirituality.
January 30, 2021
Dear Friends of Saint Mary by-the- Sea,
Among other heartrending consequences, COVID19 has affected decisions regarding St. Mary by-the-Sea Retreat House. We believe the risks of opening this season outweigh the advantages. As a result, St. Mary by-the-Sea will not open for the 2021 season. Since we will not open in 2021, it is not feasible to open in 2022. Therefore, we bring our ministry at Saint Mary by-the-Seato a close. These are difficult words to express and absorb.
Thousands have been a part of this holy history. The ministry at Saint Mary’s has been blessed by the generosity and love of so many staff, volunteers, and retreatants. We are grateful for all those who have encountered God and each other in this sacred space.
These past months have been a challenge, struggle, and yes, even a blessing. Perhaps this is a blessed way to be open to God’s Plan. Let us continue to be receptive to the many blessings that will follow in the months and years to come.