The Sisters of Charity will sell the Stella Maris Retreat Centre in Howth, Co. Dublin, which is valued at over €3m due to a decline in attendance and cost of maintenance.
Thousands of people have gone to the centre for over 125 years and availed of the sacred space of worship and natural beauty.
Funds generated by the sale will help the sisters continue their mission in Ireland and overseas. The proceeds will specifically go towards their work with people affected by human trafficking, in their efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change on poor communities and in the promotion of education.
“Due to the inability of our ageing Congregation to continue our retreat work, a decline in numbers attending and the need to spend a great deal of money to modernise what is a Victorian 19th Century building, we have decided to sell and use the proceeds of the sale to go towards some of the charitable work our congregation carries out at home and abroad,” Superior General Sr Mary Christian said in a statement.
“We are sorry to be closing this very special place but are glad that the sale will mean our Sisters in Ireland and abroad will be able to continue and expand the worthwhile work they are doing.”
Agents Lisney and Farley Property were instructed by the congregation to offer the site on Howth Head for sale. It is situated on 7.3 acres with 1.6 acres zoned residential. The property is for sale by tender on June 28.
The site includes an extended two-storey Victorian house, a building used for seminars and another two-storey house with accommodation. The chapel at the centre was built in 1929.
Sr Christian added: “Our sisters are involved in a wide range of support services in their local communities including caring for those who are sick and those nearing the end of life.
“Our sisters are active in education with both children and adults, as well as focusing on helping those who are homeless.
“This sale will enable us to continue that important work whilst also supporting the care of our sick and elderly sisters.”
The Religious Sisters of Charity have 330 Sisters, the majority of whom are in their seventies or older.
The congregation has sisters in Ireland, England, Scotland, California and Malawi; as well as in Zambia and Nigeria, where there are new sisters becoming part of the congregation each year.