Bruderhof buys Mount St. Alphonsus for $21.5 million, plans high school for its children
ULSTER PARK, N.Y. — The former Mount St. Alphonsus Retreat Center now belongs to the Rifton-based Church Communities Foundation, also known as the Bruderhof, which purchased the property in May for $21.5 million.
The Bruderhof bought the 411-acre property from the Redemptorist Fathers of New York. Ulster County Clerk Nina Postupack said on Wednesday that the deed was signed on May 8 and recorded on May 17.
The Mount, a seminary for 75 years and then a retreat center for 26 years, belonged to the Redemptorists of the Baltimore Province, a Roman Catholic order. During that time, more than 1,300 young men were ordained for the priesthood.
Members of The Church Communities and the Redemptorists, both nonprofit entities, were negotiating a lease arrangement initially, but the Bruderhof made the decision earlier this year to buy the riverfront site, and they said it was well worth the investment.
The Bruderhof, founded in post-World War I Germany, has renamed the property The Mount Community and is working toward opening a state-accredited high school there this fall.
Currently, high school-age children from the Bruderhof attend public schools, said Ian Winter, a spokesman for the group.
“We worked hard with the school(s) ... but we felt the morals were slipping,” he said. “A lot of our parents were downright unhappy with the public schools, so we reached a unanimous decision to start a high school,” he said.
People in the Bruderhof, like the Amish and the Mennonites, live separately in a faith-based community and embrace the biblical philosophy of living in the world but separate from it.
Winter said the Mount St. Alphonsus building is undergoing massive renovations, using mostly local contractors, in preparation for the start of September classes on the fourth floor. He said about 140 students are expected to attend.
Original features of the building, including its chapel and pipe organ, are being restored, and care is being taken to preserve the “tranquil beauty of property, including the cemetery,” the Bruderhof said in a prepared statement. Continued...
Other renovations include a new roof and flooring, classrooms, new kitchen facilities, installing an environmentally friendly heating system and replacing utility systems.
The Redemptorists decided last year to close the Mount because of the increasing age of its members and the smaller number of men entering the priesthood. Retreats, conferences, weddings and other functions ceased there at the end of 2011.
Three Redemptorist priests remain on the property, at the Mount’s gatehouse. Nine nuns from The Mount recently moved in with the Cabrini sisters until they can find a permanent home.
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