On Sunday, December 22, the wood paneled halls of Cormaria Retreat House in Sag Harbor were filled with the peals of laughter from tiny children and cries of delight as their parents greeted old friends. The elegant mansion had once again opened its holiday decorated doors for The Ivy Breakfast, an annual fundraiser. Families from all across the East End filled the spacious dining room and enjoyed a festive family-style breakfast of scrambled eggs, French toast, sausage, bacon and pastries at the majestic hilltop mansion overlooking the bay.
Sister Ann Marino, her fellow sisters in the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, Carol Ahlers, Director of Development, chefs Bill De Petris and his grandson Eric Gilliam and a host of volunteers served up the scrumptious breakfast which was a welcome break from the holiday hustle and bustle.
The house, originally built for California real estate developer Frank Havens, was completed in 1905 and still contains its original Tiffany Studios windows and elegant hardwood interior decor. In 1943, the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary established Cormaria as a finishing school for young Catholic women. In 1949, it was converted to a Retreat Center.
In 1960 an extension was added, providing 28 additional beds. After Vatican II, the Retreat House programs were broadened to include men as well as women. The Retreat House can now accommodate up to 72 retreatants.
Cormaria offers retreat services throughout the year, including directed and theme-based retreats, guided retreats, on-going spiritual direction, Day of Prayer, celebrations, weekend retreats for individuals in recovery, and retreats for professionals.
Over the past 10 years, three retreat houses on Long Island have closed. Cormaria, which is staffed by members of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, now offers eastern Long Island’s only Catholic retreat services expressing the mission of their community in a ministry of hospitality to all who spend time there.