Jesuits find needs of many are not being met by an exclusively retreat-center approach
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. (May 9, 2013) — The New York Province of the Society of Jesus confirmed on Wednesday a contractual agreement of $15 million for the purchase of the Mount Manresa Jesuit Retreat House property at 239 Fingerboard Rd., in the Fort Wadsworth section of Staten Island by Savo Brothers, a development company based in the Staten Island community of Prince’s Bay.
The sale of the approximately 15.4-acre property, expected to close in about a month, is a logical next step in fueling the spiritual mission of the Jesuits, the Province says.
The Jesuits have determined that the needs of many people, especially the young, are not being met by an exclusively retreat-center approach. Many are reluctant to come to a residential retreat house, and many simply cannot afford, or are unwilling to pay, the kind of money living in a retreat house costs, the Province explains.
“Prayer and meditation can take place anywhere, and a special house is not an essential element,” said Fr. Vincent Cooke, S.J., a Jesuit spokesman. “The first Jesuits, the immediate followers of St. Ignatius, gave the Spiritual Exercises to people where the people lived and worked.”
Operating on Staten Island for 50 years, Savo Brothers is among the most recognized and well-respected developers in New York City.
“We’re honored to assist in the vision of the Jesuits,” said Michael Savo, vice president of the family owned and operated business that bears his name. “We are very sensitive to the beauty of the site and the structures at the location. Our goal is to ensure the property is handled in the most respectful, sensitive and sensible way.”
Now in its second generation, Savo Brothers is a Staten Island- family enterprise that has distinguished itself through decades of providing top-quality work, and employing local residents and tradespeople.
Lawyers Michael Menicucci, managing partner of Menicucci, Villa & Associates, and Michael Amtzis, senior real estate attorney at the Meiers Corners (Staten Island)-based firm, are representing Savo Brothers in the real estate transaction.
“We are pleased that the future of this important, high-profile property will be in the hands of such responsible people as the Savos,” Menicucci said.
The sale of Mount Manresa is part of a strategic plan that the New York Province of the Society of Jesus has put in place, said attorney Paul A. Michels, a partner of Cullen and Dykman LLP, the law firm representing the Province.
“After broad consultation and deliberation, the New York Province of the Society of Jesus concluded it is best to offer Ignatian Spirituality in new forms that are appropriate to new times,” Michels said.
Fr. David Ciancimino, S.J., provincial of the New York Province, explained, “The centerpiece of Ignatian Spirituality is the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola. Instead of relying exclusively on residential-type retreat centers where people have to come to us, we will bring Ignatian Spirituality to people in their parishes, local communities, conference centers, and even in their homes.”
People who prefer a retreat house experience will still be able to do so at the Loyola House of Retreats in Morristown, N.J., which will continue to be maintained by the New York Province. Morristown is part of the greater New York City area, and is accessible by car and various forms of public transportation.
The Province intends to dedicate a substantial part of the proceeds from the sale of Mount Manresa to establish the “Manresa Fund,” which will be used to support the ministry of the Spiritual Exercises in the Province.
Included, will be the training and support of an increasing number of lay people and Jesuits to give the Spiritual Exercises in new and effective modes, as well as a new office for Jesuit Spirituality and Retreat Ministries as a base for providing these services.
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