After 102 Years of Summer Fun, Cathedral Camp Closes Indefinitely
On April 15, 2021, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fall River Ministry and the Cathedral Camp Retreat and Conference Center officially announced the indefinite closing of the East Freetown summer camp after 102 years of business.
The Director of Cathedral Camp, Rena Lemieux, released the following message on both the camp's website and social media:
"It is with a very heavy heart that I must notify you that the Diocese of Fall River has instructed Cathedral Camp to cease operations due to severe financial strain. It turns out that the pandemic was "the straw that broke the camel's back" in this regard. In the best of times it had been a significant struggle to make ends meet and to maintain the camp structures. We do not know what the future holds for the beautiful property which has hosted thousands of children for many joyful summers going back many decades. We understand that the diocese remains committed to children and youth, but it needs time to study and evaluate the reality of a summer camp in the broader context of many important priorities.
As a result, I must encourage those parents who have already signed up children to seek out other summer programs or camps for their children. It goes without saying that full refunds will be remitted to all such families who have already made financial commitments to Cathedral Camp for the summer of 2021. Similarly, we must encourage all those young people seeking employment as counselors for the summer program to seek other employment opportunities.
Along with the camp, the retreat center is also a victim of this difficult moment. We thank all groups for so many years of support and we hope that you can find an alternative setting for your retreat programs. Any and all deposits will be returned to you in a timely fashion.
We realize that this may come as devastating news to so many of you who, after a year of pandemic stress, were excited to have your children back in the great outdoors, enjoying God's good creation, and socializing in a setting which is close to "normal." The reality we confront is that the numbers don't lie, and that camp and retreat operations could not be sustained.
We are sincerely sorry for any and all inconvenience and disappointment. Please try to understand our predicament at this time. Know, also, that our prayers are with all of you for a blessed summer season in spite of this setback."
Respectfully in Christ,
Rena Lemieux, Director
I spoke with Lemieux, who is not only saddened to end a century-old chapter but to also part with the member of the Diocese, Father Greg, the Priest of the church on the campgrounds, Bishop Edgar Moreira da Cunha, her camp staff and counselors, and of course the children who attended in years past.
Although there was a record number of registrations and applicants for the summer of 2021, there was simply no recovery from the funds lost due to COVID-19. No one is to blame but the pandemic that mercilessly took down small businesses across the SouthCoast without remorse. The Diocese did everything in its power to help save the camp but unfortunately came up short.
As of now, there are no plans to restore or save the camp, and all parents who have pre-registered their children will be refunded in full.
I myself was a camper at Cathedral Camp where some of my best memories growing up were made. From placing third in the talent show for my alto-saxophone performance of the Star Wars theme to finally making it to a Level 7 in swim class, nothing could ever replace the friendships I made and the memories I'll forever cherish.
Cathedral Camp was a great summer pastime that will forever hold a special place in my heart, and I am saddened to hear of its closing.