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How COVID-19 impacted congregations with retreat centers

Posted on November 1, 2022, by Loretto Community

Published by Global Sisters Report on October 31, 2022

“Global Sisters Report asked congregations in the United States, Canada and Ireland about their retreat centers and how they were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, its lockdowns and various restrictions. …

“Cedars of Peace consists of seven cabins for short- or long-term solitude in the woods of the Loretto motherhouse in Nerinx, Kentucky. Cedars only closed for five months in 2020 because it was easy to create protocols to keep retreatants safe — after all, people go there for solitude. There were three guests staying long term when the pandemic began, and allowing them to continue to stay provided enough income to keep the venture going until it could officially reopen.”

Read the entire report here.

JoAnn Gates, the coordinator of Knobs Haven, the second retreat center at the Loretto Motherhouse, described the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the retreat center in this way:

“Knobs Haven consists of two retreat areas on the Loretto Motherhouse campus. Before the pandemic, retreat groups ate in the community dining room. Both Knobs Haven retreat areas were closed from the beginning of the pandemic until March of 2021. Since going into the community dining room was not possible, Loretto’s Building Fund paid for a significant remodeling of the retreat kitchen to facilitate group meal preparation; otherwise it would have been many months later before we could have hosted retreat groups. Shortly after reopening the one area, we renovated the kitchen in the other retreat space and were able to reopen it in September 2021. 

“At this time, guests may opt to go through the food line for lunch and/or supper, though they then eat in a separate dining area or in the outdoor courtyard, weather permitting. Most groups, however, prefer to bring and prepare their own food, and consider that a part of their community-building. While we have nearly a full complement of groups who are making retreat, the number of those making retreat remains lower than our pre-Covid numbers.

“I am very aware of the good fortune that Loretto’s Knobs Haven was able to financially weather the early and most threatening period of the pandemic.”


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