Saint Mary by-the-Sea Retreat House, in Cape May Point.

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CAPE MAY POINT - While volunteers, staff, leadership, and retreatants of Saint Mary-by-the-Sea Retreat House, in Cape May Point, reflected on how the site was “holy ground,” nearly 800 online viewers recalled their memories and experiences during a livestreamed ritual of thanks and blessing Sept. 18.

The event , held for invited guests on the retreat grounds, marked the official closing of the facility, owned and operated by the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chestnut Hill since 1909.

In October 2016, the congregation announced Saint Mary by-the-Sea, at 101 Lehigh Ave., would function as a retreat house through at least 2021. However, the Covid pandemic resulted in the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 retreat programs, bringing the ministry at Saint Mary’s to a close. 

Speakers recalled their “treasured moments” along the beaches, in the ocean, walking the grounds, and listening and watching nature, in addition to their spiritual experiences during the many retreats held over the years. 

Each addressed a perspective from the retreatants, directors, volunteers, staff, and villa sisters, voices breaking with emotion at times.

They also sounded the singing bowl, followed by singing “Standing on Holy Ground” after each speaker.  

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