St. Gabe's is on the market
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Barbara Signorelli, St. Gabe's administrator, said Friday that the retreat is “open now. It's been a phenomenal year despite the news.” In May 2008, the Passionist Fathers, who own the property, announced they would sell it, and by January 2009 the Passionist priests no longer resided at the retreat.
St. Gabe's staff of eight, including three retreat team missionaries (Bryan Knipfing, Chris Mandato and Allyse Gruslin), “have kept up their energy and morale,” Ms. Signorelli said. But no retreats have been booked beyond July 31.
The property has been listed for about three weeks with a Bridgehampton agent of Brown Harris Stevens real estate. The 24.8-acre property, with 1,500 feet of waterfront and 10 buildings (including the 29-room guest house), is listed for $19.9 million. The web listing touts the “unique and inspiring” ownership opportunity: “This prime property, adjacent to over 20 acres of protected waterfront land, provides a magnificent setting for a host of possibilities, including new custom estates, a grand resort or spa and the extensive shoreline provides the luxury of private deepwater dockage. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire such a large contiguous holding of buildable waterfront land on the East End of Long Island.”
The Passionists allowed the retreat to continue for a year after announcing their intent to sell but not beyond that. Operating with the property on the market would be difficult in the best of circumstances. Retreat team members traditionally serve for a full year. “I really can't operate on a month by month basis,” Ms. Signorelli said.
Hopes that the Rockville Centre Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church would find a way to keep the retreat operating have not been realized, at least not yet. St. Gabe's has operated since 1963 and typically serves 2,000 high school teens each year, 90 percent of them from the Rockville Centre Diocese. What the retreat does for teens is evident in the 170 postings on St. Gabe's website guest book. The most recent posting, from a retreat held just last weekend, reads: “My first year at St. Gabe's was life changing. I felt a deep connection with the staff, my youth group and with God.” For more on the retreat's services, see this week's letter to the editor from Ms. Gruslin (page 19) or the YouTube posting from a group of teens lending their voices to the cause in a video called “Save Gabe.”
Although the work continues at St. Gabe's, the clock is ticking. “It's a big investment. It's a hard time to put those funds together,” Ms. Signorelli acknowledged. But she is “still holding on to some hope” that a buyer will emerge who will want to keep the youth retreat open.
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