BIDDEFORD — After 45 years as a retreat center, the Marie Joseph Spiritual Center in Biddeford will close on June 30.

The center, located on 10 Evans Road, has offered spiritual nurturance to guests from across the country and world through programs, days of recollection, preached and directed retreats, and other interdenominational groups. Multiple factors led to the difficult and heartbreaking decision.

“When we first started the retreat center, the Sisters did everything, and now we are an aging community and are not able to do all we did,” said Sister Helene Cote, p.m., Provincial Superior of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary in the United States. “For some years now, we have primarily relied on a lay staff to operate the center. We are entering the busiest time of year and despite efforts to hire employees, the center is currently understaffed. The staff we have is very dedicated and hardworking, and we are so grateful for who they are and all they have done. They embody the spirit of generous hospitality and care of others. They will be missed.”

Other challenges are the age of the building, the high cost of maintenance, and the difficulty of finding contractors to make needed major repairs and upgrades to a building that was built over 120 years ago.

“We have several major projects that absolutely need to be addressed and because of the length of the project and the noise involved, we would need to close the center for an extended period of time in order to complete the projects,” said Sister Helene. “The cost of these projects is significant, upwards of $1 million dollars, and financially it is not feasible. We are so grateful to our many benefactors and friends who have given so generously over the years to help us with our annual Appeal in order for us to be able to operate the center for as long as we have. Without their generosity we would have closed years ago.”

Sister Helene said the 13 Sisters currently live at the center and contribute when they can.

“As we look to the future, it will not be long before we would not have Sisters available to be that prayerful presence at the center,” she said. “We are grateful for all the Sisters who currently serve and have served before us and for all the wonderful people and friends we have made through the years – the employees, guests, presenters, and the many benefactors – who have all contributed in making the vision of our foundress, Saint Marie Rivier, a reality in this beautiful part of Maine. We have been blessed by all and are grateful.”

The Congregation of the Presentation of Mary has had a 75-year presence in Biddeford. The Sisters purchased what was the Ocean View Hotel in 1948 and opened a young women’s boarding school. The school was closed in the mid 1970’s and in 1978, it became Marie Joseph Spiritual Center.

For more information, contact Sister Annette Laliberte, p.m., at 978-688-1920.