Menlo Park's Vallombrosa Center has announced that it will be shut down until the new year, according to a statement by the center's director, Father Reginald Martin.
The retreat center, situated on 11 acres at 250 Oak Grove Ave., is owned by the Archdiocese of San Francisco but operates separately as a small business, said David Leech, the center's marketing coordinator and leader of online retreats.
The center has a capacity for 120 overnight visitors and hosts nonprofits and religious retreats for a variety of faith traditions, Leech said. But the pandemic halted months' worth of business and threatened its survival unless the most austere operating cuts were made, he said.
"We lost business from March 15 on," he said. The retreat center has had to reduce its staff of 12 down to three people and switch its primary focus to keeping the lights on – no more kitchen staff, gardeners or retreats.
The Archdiocese bought the property in 1947. Edward Hopkins, nephew to railroad magnate Mark Hopkins, initially purchased it in 1883, according to the Menlo Park Historical Association.
The grounds of the center, including a garden dedicated to Mother Teresa, remain open to the public, though visitors are encouraged to visit during regular business hours.
Leech added that the operators are looking for volunteers to help maintain the property, and said that there is a possibility the site could be used for outdoor events.
"A common misconception is that we're flush with money because we're owned by the Archdiocese, but that's not the case. We do need help," he said.
The retreat center is hosting a video series and is asking for donations to one of three fundraisers it is running: A $70,000 fundraiser to pay off a loan to invest in low-cost lighting; a $100,000 fundraiser to support irrigation improvements, ground maintenance and lawn care; and a $25,000 fundraiser to meet a matching grant to construct and landscape a shrine and plaza.
Go to vallombrosa.org/save for more information.