As a result of Covid-19 and the resultant public health restrictions introduced in March 2020 it was not possible to run any retreat or residential programmes in the Ardfert Retreat Centre over the past two years. However, prior to the pandemic, serious concerns existed in relation to the Centre and its future. It had become increasingly difficult for the Centre to cover its operating costs and it was unable to facilitate pastoral programmes throughout the year that attracted sufficient numbers to attend.
In May 2020 the Diocese was approached by Talbot Grove (now The Grove), Castleisland to see if Ardfert Retreat Centre might be available on a short term basis for the purposes of running their own programmes. In order to comply with Covid public health measures, these programmes would otherwise have had to be curtailed due to lack of space in their own premises. In August 2020 a lease was entered into with Talbot Grove for the use of Ardfert Retreat Centre for the term of one year with an option to extend the term. This has been a very successful arrangement which has allowed the facilities of the Centre to be used to its full potential and for a very worthy purpose over the last nineteen months.
Talbot Grove has approached the Diocese about acquiring Ardfert Retreat Centre as its long term home. Following negotiations with Talbot Grove, it is proposed that the Diocese will sell the Centre to Talbot Grove. This will allow Talbot Grove to continue its excellent work which benefits people not only from the Diocese but also from further afield. The Diocese has had a long association with Talbot Grove and their mission is compatible with the values of the Gospel.
While we appreciate that there will be a sense of loss and sadness from people living in Ardfert and beyond with this news, there is the consolation of knowing that the Centre is finding a good use. The service provided by Talbot Grove will benefit many individuals and their families.
Sr. Elizabeth has retired as director of Ardfert Retreat Centre, and we wish to thank her, her predecessors and all the religious sisters who have served there for their work and dedication. Our gratitude also to the staff, volunteers and the contact people for their service down the years. Lastly, we thank the people of the Diocese, and especially the people of Ardfert Parish for their support of Ardfert Retreat Centre since it opened its doors in 1981. We ask you to join with us in wishing all in Talbot Grove every success and blessing as a new era begins for Ardfert Retreat Centre.
Diocese of Kerry,