FIle Photo Linda and Tom Ashe, directors of The Well Retreat Center just across the city line from Suffolk, show off the retreat’s lake in 2010. The Catholic Diocese of Richmond announced this weekend The Well will close this fall because it is being underused.
Linda and Tom Ashe, directors of The Well Retreat Center just across the city line from Suffolk, show off the retreat’s lake in 2010. The Catholic Diocese of Richmond announced this weekend The Well will close this fall because it is being underused.

Diocese to close The Well

Published 10:11pm Monday, July 29, 2013

A religious retreat center just across the city line will close this fall after being open for more than 26 years, the Catholic Diocese of Richmond announced this weekend.

Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo made the announcement about The Well Retreat Center after studying the pastoral, administrative and financial viability of the four retreat centers owned by the diocese, the announcement posted on the diocese’s website stated. A retreat center in Lynchburg also will close, while two others in Abingdon and Hanover County will remain open.

“The Diocese’s decision to close these two retreat centers — which have served Catholics and other people of faith for 25 years — was not reached lightly, but with prayer and consideration,” Bishop DiLorenzo said.

The Well opened in 1987 on 23 acres of rural property off North Cherry Grove Road, which meanders back and forth between Suffolk and Isle of Wight County after turning off U.S. Route 10.

The facility offers a retreat center for conferences, staff training and meetings, leadership and youth retreats, prayer gatherings, individual retreats and more. It had overnight accommodations for 32 people, along with a lake, a library and other amenities.

It was designed to be used by Catholic groups but is open to others, diocese spokeswoman Diana Sims Snider said Monday.

“Many of our parishes have not been using it,” she said. “Oftentimes they’re having retreats in their own parishes, or they’re using the pastoral center in Richmond. We’re just finding that more and more, they had not been using The Well.”

In the statement, the diocese said the facilities’ locations, changing needs of retreat-goers, consideration of how the centers aligned with the diocese’s mission and anticipated future capital needs were key factors in the decision.

“We have not yet decided whether we will sell it or have some other use for it,” Snider said Monday. “It’s never an easy thing to close something. Certainly the people who run The Well, the bishop certainly thanks them for their service, both to the people of the Diocese of Richmond and to all people of faith.”

Linda and Tom Ashe have been the directors of the facility for eight years. Reached by phone Monday, Linda Ashe said she did not want to make any comment.

Snider said The Well would not officially close until Nov. 30 because retreats that have already been scheduled will be accommodated.

In the statement, the diocese said money resulting from a sale, if one occurs, would be redirected to “priorities identified through the planning process.”

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