El Carmelo Retreat House, Redlands
In 1952, the Discalced Carmelite Fathers purchased the Moore House and adjoining acreage of the Schacht-Reidman properties in Redlands Heights in order to develop a retreat facility. The house needed much repair. On October 15, 1952, Bishop Charles Buddy of the Diocese of San Diego dedicated the new retreat house in Redlands. Shortly after, Bishop Buddy also conducted the first retreat held at El Carmelo. Rev. Patrick Collins, ODC, and Rev. Enda Summers, ODC, were the early Carmelite Fathers that developed El Carmelo.
El Carmelo celebrated its 60th Anniversary in October 2012. The retreat house continues to hold over 40 weekend retreats each year for groups that include Engaged Encounter, married couples, recovery groups and silent retreats for individuals.
Divine Word Retreat Center, Riverside
In 1956, Bishop Buddy gave permission to the Society of the Divine Word to open a seminary in the diocese. The religious community had purchased the Hole Mansion in the Arlington area of Riverside. The name of the seminary was Little Flower at Marygrove.
In 1978, the Divine Word Community closed the seminary in Riverside and refocused the mission to retreat and spiritual development work. Today, the retreat center sponsors a wide variety of parish and school days of prayer as well as youth and confirmation retreats.
Sacred Heart Retreat Camp, Big Bear
In 1979, the Sisters Devoted to the Sacred Heart purchased a 22-acre parcel in Big Bear with the intent of beginning a retreat center that would focus on family ministry. Bishop Phillip Straling dedicated the new camp on July 4, 1980 with a special Mass. The main lodge can seat 200 persons for dinner and there are overnight dormitories for 80. The camp today is a popular location for youth and Confirmation retreats.
St. Anne in the Mountains Retreat Center, Running Springs
The first retreat center in Running Springs was named St. Joachim and St. Anne in the early 1980s. The current retreat center located on Fredelba Road by the parish church is named St. Anne in the Mountains Retreat Center. The facility has a large conference center, a lodge and two “A” frame buildings that can hold 75 people. The altar from the first location is now part of the current retreat center. It is a popular location for parish Confirmation retreats.
Not all the efforts to begin new retreat facilities have been successful. The next section covers three retreat centers that no longer exist.
Sacred Heart Renewal Center, Victorville
In 1964, the Priests of the Sacred Heart from Hales Corner, Wisconsin opened a seminary in Redlands. Four years later, the seminary relocated to Palmdale Road in Victorville. The seminary closed in 1982 due to a decline in vocations. The Sacred Heart Fathers changed the mission of the facility to a retreat and renewal center.
The property covered 80 acres of open desert land. The center could serve 60 people for a day of prayer and had sleeping facilities for 24 people. There was a small chapel and dining room with kitchen.
The Sacred Heart priests initially remained as staff.
In 1987, the Sacred Heart priests were reassigned to other ministries in the community. The Sacred Heart community continued to own the Center but the administration of the programs were given to the Diocese of San Bernardino. The diocese asked another religious community, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart from Ohio to staff the Center.
In 1989, the operation of the Center changed again to the Franciscan community of artists called the Franciscan Canticle from Los Angeles. The mission changed in the late 1990s when St. John of God Health Services came in to provide alcohol and drug rehabilitation services.
Tabor House of Prayer
In 1980, the diocese formed a committee to develop a House of Prayer that would be a “place of solitude, peace and recollection where going apart for a time we can find the Lord and be transformed by his love.” After much searching, a house was rented in the Lytle Creek area north of Rialto. It was dedicated in 1981; Sister Katherine Connolly, RSM, and Sister Paula Evitts comprised the live in staff.
The House of Prayer was relocated to San Jacinto in 1982, and then moved again a year later to Banning.
Sr. Kathleen left the staff in 1984. Due to financial and staffing issues, the Tabor House of Prayer closed in 1985.
Rose of Sharon Benedictine Center
The Oblates of St. Benedict, a lay organization of men and women, received permission in 1981 to open a renewal center near Desert Hot Springs. The directors of the center were Oblates Erwin and Beverly Clouse. Their motherhouse was the Holy Family Monastery at St. David, Arizona.
The center had facilities for 25 people and offered retreats of all types. However, in the early 1990s the center closed when the directors decided to join the Western Orthodox Church.
In closing, this two part series provided a brief historical review of the impact on the local diocese by two types of church institutions, Catholic hospitals and retreat centers.
Peter Bradley is the Archivist for the Diocese of San Bernardino.