Friday, November 14, 2008

Mt. Calvary Monastery Burns Down

Calligraphy by Br. Roy, OHC

Terrible news from California: Mt. Calvary Retreat Retreat Center, The Order of the Holy Cross's house in Santa Barbara, burned to the ground this morning during the wild fires. From the Episcopal News Service:
(Episcopal News, Los Angeles) -- The raging Montecito wildfire has destroyed historic Mount Calvary Retreat House, staff and Santa Barbara County officials have confirmed.

The resident brothers, members of the Order of the Holy Cross, and staff are safe following evacuation, said Nancy Bullock, program director for Mount Calvary, speaking by phone from All Saints by-the-Sea Church in Montecito.

Bullock said that All Saints is currently working to determine if any parishioners have lost homes in the blaze, which has claimed more than 100 residences across 2,500 acres. Bullock's husband, Jeff, is rector of the parish.

Bishop J. Jon Bruno, who is in close telephone contact with clergy leaders in the Santa Barbara area, asks the prayers of the diocesan community for all those affected by the fire. The bishop and staff of the Diocese of Los Angeles have pledged their support in assisting the coordination of fire recovery efforts. Checks, payable to the Treasurer of the Diocese and earmarked "Montecito Fire Recovery" may be sent to the Bishop's Office, 840 Echo Park Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90026.

Mount Calvary's prior, the Rev. Nicholas Radelmiller OHC, is leading the brothers and staff in assessing next steps of response to the fire damage.

Bullock said the brothers and staff at Mt. Calvary, were able to leave with some of the hilltop retreat house's valuable art treasures, as well as computer records, "but so much is lost."

Mount Calvary staff will assist groups and individuals in seeking alternate locations for upcoming retreats, all of which are now cancelled owing to the fire, Bullock said. The Cathedral Center retreat center in Los Angeles is available to assist this process.

At Santa Barbara's Trinity Church, rector and deanery co-dean Mark Asman is meeting with staff and volunteers to assess the situation and crisis response. Further information will be reported through the Episcopal News email list as soon as it becomes available, Asman said.

Asman said Trinity Church's rectory and parish house were able to accommodate the brothers overnight November 13. St. Mary's Retreat House, an Episcopal Church site near the Santa Barbara Mission, has also extended hospitality, although it was subject to a temporary evacuation November 13.

Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared the fire zone a disaster area as fire fighters continue to work to contain the blaze.

Mount Calvary Retreat House, with its panoramic ocean views, was founded in 1947 by the Order of the Holy Cross, based in West Park, N.Y.

--Report filed by Bob Williams, canon for community relations, Diocese of Los Angeles.

I went on retreat there a few times when I lived in Los Angeles. I'm thankful that everyone escaped--but what a loss. Here are some pictures to remember the house by...

Of course our thoughts and prayers go out to the OHC community.



Felicity Pickup said...

No room for a smartass comment here, but do want to share a feeling.

Picture of a burning ruin, of another house in that area, brings back that AWFUL SMELL that sticks in one's memory of charred remains of one's church or home.

bloomsday said...

I am so sad to read this. I, too, went here on retreat and can attest to the beauty and serenity of this place.

I am so sorry to hear of this. Thank you for your post.

refugio said...

I have been retreating to Mt. Calvary since 1985, through an engagement, marriage, two babies, a diagnosis of autism, a divorce, and so much more. The place and people of Mt. Calvary have offered me healing and respite in ways that are hard to put into words. I have gradually learned to incorporate the monastic life into my daily routine as a single mother. I am devastated at the loss of so much beauty and so many treasures, and am grateful for the memories I have of this place and of the loving support I have recieved over the years from my brothers in Christ. Blessings on all who grieve this huge loss. I trust Mt. Calvary will rise from the ashes and I am sure it will be an exhausting experience.