CLOSER working relationships between the wardens of retreat
houses and the trustees who oversee them might result in fewer
closures, an association of Christian retreat-house wardens,
Archway, has said.
Liz Pearson, who chairs Archway, said that often trustees did
not listen to their wardens, and, instead, regarded retreat houses
A conference was organised by Archway last week for wardens to
talk about experiences, and create a "benchmark" system against
which retreat houses could measure their bookings and
Mrs Pearson said that the mood among wardens was "reasonably
happy" despite news of closures; the trustees of the Community of
St Denys have confirmed their plans to close the retreat centre at
Ivy House in Warminster next year.
She said that Archway hoped to be able to offer an audit service
for retreat houses that were beginning to experience difficulties.
She said: "It might help those facing difficulties to explore other
areas, throw them a lifeline."
Many retreat houses were already experiencing a high level of
bookings for 2014. Those that tended to have more difficulties
included diocesan retreat houses, she said. Two of them - Offa
House, in Coventry diocese, and Glenfall, in Gloucester - closed
last year. The closures were blamed on the high running and
maintenance costs (News, 1
The director of the Retreat Association, Alison MacTier, said
that their new retreats guidebook had a record number of entries
for 2014. "This is really encouraging news for retreat houses and
the many thousands of people they support," she said.
"It has been very sad to see the closure of a small number of
some of our best-loved retreat houses, but the increase in the
number listed in our handbook indicates that, overall, we are
seeing a changing rather than diminishing ministry of retreats.
"In tough economic times, many people are either starting up
small retreat centres, or finding ways to sustain their work."
The recent closures were not due to a decline in popularity for
retreats, she said. "It is more about sustainability, at a time
when overheads and the cost of living have seen such a dramatic
increase in the last few years.
"I have spoken to retreat-house wardens where future bookings
are extremely healthy, and I believe this is why the ministry of
retreats will not only survive, but continue to flourish in the