From: Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center
Date: November 19, 2013
Dear Neighbor of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center
You may have read recently in the Mountain Views News a story regarding possible development of a portion of our property. We had hoped to communicate with you before any news story appeared. In any case, because you live close to our property, we feel you deserve some word directly from us.
The Passionists of Holy Cross Province with the Board of Directors of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center have begun exploring the sale of a portion of our property for development. The portion being considered is the open field parcel located immediately north of our gates on Sunnyside Avenue.
We undertook our planning process because as good stewards of our resources, we have to plan ahead in order to care for our aging Passionist priests and brothers, and to strengthen our various ministries in the United States and elsewhere.
Our planning process is in its preliminary stages. Any comment or speculation about how this parcel may be used would be premature. As plans begin to take shape, we promise to keep you informed and to listen to your input.
We can assure you that the quiet setting of Mater Dolorosa and its retreat ministry will in no way be diminished by the sale of this parcel. Our retreat center is healthy and our ministry strong and vibrant.
We will likely see change coming to a portion of our property. What remains unchanged is that we want to continue being good neighbors of Sierra Madre, as we have been for 90 years.
Fr. Michael Higgins, C.P.
(Mod: No matter who employs this controlling term, whenever you hear the word "process" it is fairly certain that you are not going to be told much that is useful. At least until the "process" has run its course and it is too late to do anything about it. I also question the use of "parcel." If this is to be the 40 unit housing project many believe it will be, then the land being exploited for that purpose can hardly be called a parcel. Unless, of course, this is to be a highly dense housing project of the kind favored by SCAG and some of the other central planning state bureaucracies. Which then means it will be aggressively out of character with the neighborhood surrounding it … Here is the second letter.)
Attn: Archbishop Gomez
From: The Coalition to Save the Monastery
Date: November 25, 2013
Dear Archbishop Gomez,
There is a rising groundswell of concern about a plan to sell a portion of the Mater Dolorosa Monastery in Sierra Madre. My wife and I have been coming to this monastery for over 20 years. It has been a special place of solitude, serenity and spirituality that has been a great source of solace to us over the years. From the feedback I have been receiving from people, many share in these sentiments.
While you will realize some financial gain from the sale of a portion of the property, that benefit will only be temporary. However, such an action would permanently change the character of the monastery forever. Once it is sold, it is gone forever. Mater Dolorosa is a refuge, an oasis amidst our current frenetic and oftentimes coarse society. The land surrounding Mater Delorosa is what makes it special. The vast open space is a refuge not only for people, but for wildlife of all types. As you ride up the long driveway you seem to leave civilization behind and enter a sacred place where time stands still. The monastery needs that buffer of land. To remove the land changes the whole complexion of the monastery for those that reside there, and for retreatants who hunger for the spiritual experiences found in that special place.
I am also concerned about the effects of the protracted battle that would be waged by those against and those in favor of this plan. Mater Dolorosa is one of about ten landmarks listed in the Sierra Madre General Plan. It is inextricably linked with the history and culture of Sierra Madre. Aside from the people who will forever lose the essence of what made Mater Dolorosa special, those who live around the monastery will also be adversely affected. Those homes on the border will see a significant decline in property values. Those living nearby will also see increased traffic and congestion - the opposite of everything that Mater Dolorosa represents.
Whatever financial reasons caused certain people to consider such a decision, I know there must be alternative solutions short of carving up the monastery. And what is going to happen five or ten years down the road when more money is need for some particular purpose? Do you sell off another chunk of land and move the gates even further up the hillside? This becomes a very slippery path.
On behalf of the Coalition to Save the Monastery, we humbly ask that this decision be reconsidered. If anyone would like to discuss this further, please contact me. We will shortly have an informational website and email address for all of those who are concerned.
Matthew N. Bryant
(Mod: You can sign me up.)