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EXCLUSIVE: Retreat house in Canandaigua was set to close due to priest shortage, but now it may stay open (video)

  • / Updated:
  • Rebecca Swift 

Father Frank Jones is a rector for the Redemptorists, a Catholic religious order. He is the director of the Notre Dame Retreat House, a 100-acre 120-bed facility on Canandaigua Lake. It’s meant to host religious retreats.

“The people who come, they are our brothers and sisters in Christ,” Jones said. “For us to be able to talk to them about the faith is what we’re supposed to be doing.”

Religious retreat house may be shifting to non-religions management due to priest shortage (video)

Redemptorist Fathers will no longer run the Notre Dame

Back in February, the Redemptorists Fathers announced they were leaving the property, largely for staffing reasons, according to Paul Peterson, who is part of the Committee to Save Notre Dame House.

“It’s certainly no secret that there’s a priest shortage across the world, and because of that they don’t have enough capable priests to stay on and continue to manage the property,” Peterson said.

That’s when Peterson says he sprung into action.

“We formed a committee of about 15-20 lay persons Of various professional backgrounds,” Peterson said. “A layperson is a non-religious person.”

But even though Peterson is not a priest, he considers himself to be a part of this place.

“I’ve been coming here for 24 years so it’s meant a lot to me personally,” Peterson said. “I’ve formed fantastic friendships. It’s just personally been amazing for me and I just can’t fathom the thought of not continuing here.”

More: Committee forms to save Notre Dame Retreat House in Canandaigua

Committee has a plan to save Notre Dame Retreat House

He says he hopes to take over the management of this property through a lease arrangement.  He hopes to keep the location and run it for the same purposes, to provide sanctuary, and host community meetings.

“Retreats that are for men, retreats for women, retreats for couples, but there are a lot of other activities that go on here like days of prayer,” Peterson said. “It is not a one-denominational property.”

Father Jones says he hopes people can continue to visit in the future.

“They can share their faith experiences,” Jones said. “I have always found that extremely moving.”

Peterson and his committee are scheduled to make a formal presentation to the Redemptorists in November, and they hope to get the green light to proceed with a target date takeover of August 2023.

More: Notre Dame Retreat House set to close next year