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Retreat Center to close in December

Andrew Thagard | Wednesday, April 14, 2004

The Fatima Retreat Center, located on Saint Mary’s Lake, will close as a retreat center in December and reopen as a retirement facility for Holy Cross priests and brothers in 2006, according to Jim Kavanaugh, the Center’s interim director.The decision to close the Center after 48 years of operations was made in September by the Indiana Province of the Congregation of Holy Cross, which owns and operates the property. Business at the Center was good, according to Kavanaugh, and he said usage was not a factor in the Province’s decision. Last year, Fatima welcomed 37 sponsored retreats and 139 hosted groups.”I think [the Congregation of Holy Cross] wanted to pick a nice location for retirement,” Kavanaugh said. “The location is ideal. It’s a wonderful place for a retreat center but it will also be a wonderful place for retirement.”Although the Province will continue to be involved in the retreat ministry, it has no plans to open a new center, he said.Mary Olen, who staffs Campus Ministry’s Retreat and Vocations Office, said that Fatima’s closing will not have a significant impact on Campus Ministry’s activities. Last year, the organization hosted 46 retreats. Some of these, including the two-night Notre Dame Encounter retreat were held at Fatima. To compensate for the change next year, Campus Ministry plans to expand its use of the on-campus Sacred Heart Parish Center, along with off-campus retreat houses. Sacred Heart Parish Center features a newly renovated kitchen and community room that makes it an attractive place to hold retreats, Olen said.”It’s a beautiful facility,” she said. “We’re very fortunate to have it.”The advance notice that her office received helped to minimize potential problems in organizing retreats for next year, Olen said.”We’ve had a while to look into it,” she said. “A lot of retreats are one night [and] we’d be able to accommodate more than one [at Sacred Heart Parish Center] by sharing a weekend.”Fatima employs eight lay people and two religious. Kavanaugh said that he plans to continue working for the Center during the renovation and transition period. The remaining lay employees will have the opportunity to pursue openings at Notre Dame or through the Congregation of Holy Cross. Personnel who handled food services and maintenance were contracted out through the University and will not be affected by the Center’s closing, Kavanaugh said.