LONG BRANCH: The Stella Maris Retreat Center will be relinquished by the congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace (CSJP) and the center's Board of Trustees.
The 6.8-acre property located at 981 Ocean Ave. in the Elberon section of the city hosts and sponsors programs for groups and individual persons of all faiths and cultures who seek holistic renewal in their daily lives, according to the center's web site.
However, Stella Maris Board of Trustees Chairman Thomas Schember stated in a release that the "deleterious effects of Superstorm Sandy on the coastline and financial challenges of maintaining and restoring Stella Maris, and the aging of congregation members," aided in the decision to let the property go and discontinue the retreat ministry at the site.
“’We are deeply concerned for the fragility of the coastline and have seen the destructive consequences of overbuilding along the oceanfront,” said Congregation Leader Sister Margaret Byrne said in a release. “There is evidence of climate change with rising sea levels and environmental degradation, and we do not wish to contribute to it. It is our hope that the property will continue to be a place of nurture and harmony. For these reasons, we are investigating how this parcel of land could be held for conservation purposes in line with our concerns and hopes.”
The center will not be sold because it would go against the CSJP's mission.
The center will offer its current programs and hospitality through Dec. 31, 2015, but no definitive timeline for the CSJP's relinquishment of the site has been set.
Stella Maris was built in 1868 and purchased by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace in 1941.