Farewell to Inisfada

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St. Ignatius Retreat House in Manhasset, New York, better known by its original name of Inisfada, will close in June.  Completed in 1920, the 87-room mansion was originally the summer home of Nicholas Brady, a Long Island businessman.  After his death, his widow donated the property to the New York Provice of Jesuits.  Since 1963 it has been a retreat house, offering the Spiritual Exercises as well as many daily and weekly programs of spiritual enrichment.  Its beautiful grounds, easy accessibility from New York City, unique design and comfortable accommodations (it was one of the first retreat houses to offer air-conditioned rooms in the summer) have made it an extraordinary resource for spiritual renewal and refreshment over the years.  My own history at Inisfada began in 1976 at a weekend parish retreat, and it has been a grace-filled place to which I have returned many times over the years.

Beyond the personal sense of loss and the effect on New York retreatants, I cannot avoid thinking of the closing of Inisfada in relation to the loss of silence in our technology-driven world.  There is noise everywhere: tv news in doctors’ waiting rooms and on dedicated screens in taxis; people shouting into cell phones on city streets; music in restaurants so loud that conversation is impossible.  Eight days of silence?  Are we crazy?  Those of us who practice Ignatian spirituality know the value of silence, even as it becomes harder to find.  How to witness to it is a challenge for 2013.

Barbara Lee has been an Ignatian Volunteer in New York since 2000. In 2011 the New York region honored her with the Madonna Della Strada award which honors “lives that reflect the Ignatian values of direct service to the poor, and working and educating for a more just society.”

16 Responses to “Farewell to Inisfada”

  1. Patricia O'Neill

    It is beyond disgraceful that the Jesuits are closing and selling Inisfada. The Bradys must be devastated at the total disregard of their generosity. There are many ways that the retreat house could be saved, but the Jesuits (who I love as a community) have poor leadership right now. The building could certainly be on the register of historic places.

    This cockamamie idea of home and parish retreats won’t fly. The whole idea of a retreat is to go away from the familiar…not to be in your parish or home. Whoever advises this current management group is totally shortsighted.

    Am I upset? You bet. Once gone, a magnificent building like Inisfada and the work it does cannot ever be recaptured. Additionally, Mt. Manresa is closing and at this moment, they still have people from Staten Island rendered homeless by Sandy. They have a kennel for those who have animals. They did the same thing with those affected by 9/11. Certainly, this is the true personification of doing God’s work.

    Is there anyway we can postpone this so other ideas could be implemented? I’d be glad to help.

    Reply
    • Sal

      Dear Patricia,
      Kindly sign the petition to save this magnificent home from the wrecking ball at: http://www.inisfada.org Click on red petition. Please pass it on to everyone you know. Thank you. Peace and God bless you.

      Reply
  2. Mary Ann Burke

    I had the Joy and Privilege of making an eight day retreat at Inisfada a few summers ago.
    The peace that surrounds this space both inside and out would draw anyone back. Certainly I had high hopes of returning. A lovely spot to pray and find God’s gentle love.
    My director was from Africa a delight to be with, and Sr Karen Doyle,SSJ was most hospitable.
    I’m saddened by the news but grateful to God to all on staff there for the opportunity I had to find God’s love there.
    Blessings on all of you,
    Sr Mary Ann Burke,SND

    Reply
    • Sal

      Dear Mary Ann Burke,
      We can stand together to save it and you can help!!! Kindly sign the petition to save this magnificent home from the wrecking ball at: http://www.inisfada.org Click on red petition. Please pass it on to everyone you know. Thank you. Peace and God bless you.

      Reply
  3. Sue Elsesser

    Love your thoughts on the importance of and need for silence, Barbara. Many thanks! Sue

    Reply
    • Sal

      Dear Sue,
      The spirit of God is still here and hasn’t left it! So Please help to save it with us!!! We can stand together to save it and you can help!!! Kindly sign the petition to save this magnificent home from the wrecking ball at: http://www.inisfada.org Click on red petition. Please pass it on to everyone you know. Thank you. Peace and God bless you.

      Reply
  4. Robert Aquino

    check Inisfada.org
    continue your prayers and spread the word, God will not forget us.
    Tel
    718-541-0159

    Reply
    • MARIO DE MARCO

      It may close ,but the life changing memory will live on .Thank God

      Reply
  5. MARIO DE MARCO

    Although it will close ,the life changing memory lives on ,.Thank YOU GOD

    Reply
    • Sr. Eileen Brady

      I am so grateful for having been at Inisfada for
      retreats. My name is Brady and I always wondered
      if our families were related in some way. I am so
      deeply sorry that the Jesuits must close it and still
      hope that there may be another solution. There are
      so few retreat options anymore and this was a special
      place full of peacefulness. What a wonderful service the
      Jesuits have given. I hope and pray that there may still
      be some way to keep it. Thanks so much. Eileen

      Reply
  6. Ken

    What was so freely given the Jesuits, they have chosen to close after 50 yeas. as with the rest of the Catholic Church, I have no use for them

    Reply
  7. Sal

    Do not let this Peaceful place disappear! The Jesuits own this since 1937…Please anyone who cares about this place…would you kindly go to: http://www.inisfada.org and sign the 2 petitions to help SAVE this peaceful and beautiful place from the Wrecking Ball! I heard it is under contract to Chinese developers who are planning to put a demolish the house and put a gated community of 40-42 units…we are hoping to have this property deem historical status…so please join our noble fight to SAVE Long Islands historic past! Write letters or emails to: elected officials of The Village of North Hill as to how you feel about this situation. http://www.villagenorthhills.com/contact.asp
    Our family have enjoyed going there for 37 years. the Jesuits own it for 76 years.

    Reply
  8. Barbara Lee

    Inisfada is now closed. Parts of its beautiful chapel have now been installed in the Lady Chapel at my parish church, St. Ignatius Loyola in New York. I am troubled that the moderator has allowed posts on this blog from http://www.inisfada.org, including the latest link to a facebook page trashing the Jesuits. Their focus is on the physical building, not the retreat house, and their posts seem to me quite inappropriate in the context of this blog. Moderator, please take note!

    Reply

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