The Ronkonkoma Cenacle Sisters announced today that the Diocese of Rockville Centre purchased the property. Operated locally by the Ronkonkoma Cenacle Sisters, the property was owned by the Chicago-based Cenacle Sisters of North American Province.
The Diocese will use the facility as housing for retired priests, according to the Ronkonkoma Cenacle Sisters.
“As we are filled with gratitude for all the graces given through our dear ‘Ronky,’ we feel that we could not have found a buyer more aligned with our mission,” the Ronkonkoma Cenacle Sisters wrote in the announcement.
On Nov. 22, 2019, OnSachem reported that the Ronkonkoma Cenacle Sisters announced the winding down of its operations, with the Cenacle citing the declining number of sisters living at the site to carry on operations.
In addition, OnSachem exclusively reported at that time the future of the retreat property was uncertain and the Town of Brookhaven confirmed zoning could allow for the construction of new residential housing. According to the Town of Brookhaven in November, the Cenacle property is zoned A-2 Residential for single-family houses on two-acre minimum lots. The site is 44.94 acres, which would yield approximately 22 single-family lots. Wetlands on the site could affect the number of homes allowed, the town said at the time. (Read the related article and view a video here.)
Today, the future is clearer for the large park-like setting in Lake Ronkonkoma, just north of Portion Road, with a sale to the Diocese.
Evelyn Vollgraff, president of the Lake Ronkonkoma Historical Society, said she is pleased with the latest developments.
“It is quite a relief,” Vollgraff said. “The Cenacle was once a farm owned by the actress Maude Adams who is near and dear to this community’s heart. So, in and of itself, The Cenacle is a wonderful piece of local history. Along with that, so many generations remember it as a place of serenity and beauty. We are delighted that it will be put to good but gentle use.”
OnSachem reached out to the Cenacle to ask about the purchase price and seek confirmation that the sale to the Diocese included the entire 45-acre property. OnSachem has not yet received a response from the Cenacle. OnSachem also contacted the Diocese of Rockville Centre for comment about the sale, but has not yet heard back. OnSachem will update this article as information is confirmed.
Here is the announcement the Ronkonkoma Cenacle Sisters made on its website and posted to its Facebook page.
Dear Cenacle Friends,
In their search for a place in the country almost one hundred years ago, our Cenacle Sisters from St. Regis Cenacle in New York City were overwhelmed at the generosity of actress Maude Adams in readily donating her sprawling acreage in Ronkonkoma to the Congregation. Her unexpected gift "set the stage" for the Holy Spirit to animate ever so many Cenacle Sisters and retreatants throughout the years to persevere in prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, on these lovely grounds.
In our letter of November 20, 2019 we shared with you that: "After much prayer, dialogue and work with consultants, the Cenacle Sisters of the North American Province acknowledge with deep sorrow that we do not have the sister personnel and energy to continue our ministry at the Ronkonkoma Cenacle to the extent that we have been doing." Our North American Province Transformative Visioning Process has led us to another poignant moment of concrete change:
The Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York has purchased the Ronkonkoma Cenacle to be used as a residence for retired priests. As we are filled with gratitude for all the graces given through our dear "Ronky," we feel that we could not have found a buyer more aligned with our mission.
We count on your continued prayers and presence with us in this transition, even as COVID-19 restrictions prevent us from hosting a public celebration of thanksgiving at this time. We thank our Good God for your faithful support, love and prayers these many years. Know that our Cenacle presence will remain here on Long Island as some of our Sisters will continue to live and minister here. Your on-going support of the mission of all of the Cenacle Sisters of the North American Province is most appreciated and can be done as usual through our website or by mail. You may also continue ordering Prayer Enrollments from the website, by phone or through the mail. All cards will be processed by the Cenacle Prayer Enrollment Office in Chicago.
Deeply grateful to you, we promise you our prayer and we hold you in our hearts.