By A Staff Reporter
Coroy Hall, the Jesuit retreat house in Sunderland, is to close in the Autumn of this year when the present bookings are completed. The Jesuits have been in Sunderland for 40 years.
They bought theft present house, then Ashbr,00ke Hall, in 1933 and renamed it after BI. Ralph Corby. the Jesuit martyr of Durham. In 1935. at the request of the late Bishop Thorman. they also took over St. Mary's Catholic Secondary School, acquired new premises, and built it up as Corby School.
There were financial and man power problems from the start, and in 1948 the school was handed over to the Irish Christian • Brothers. This did not affect the work of Corby Hall itself as a retreat centre.
Some of the best known Jesuit names associated with the hall over the years have included Frs. P. Whittaker, R. Clarke, W. D'Andria. C. Skelly, H.. Scott, I I. V. McAtamney, G. Brinkworth, C. Tiger, and the present Superior, Fr. R. Copeland. Hugh Kay, the Jesuit Information Officer, said this week: "The decision to close Corby Hall has been reluctantly reached in close consultation with Bishop Cunningham of Hexham and Newcastle.
"From the Jesuit point of view, the commitments of the English Province have increased, notably in its overseas missions, and its manpower has had to be redeployed in recent years to achieve a higher degree of concentration in each sector of province activity.
"Also in recent years, the number of retreats at Corby Hall has decreased, and to carry on working there would be disproportionate to the overall demands on the province.
"Many factors have contributed to this position. Changes of habit in Catholic life have played their part. Moreover, there are now three retreat houses in the diocese, including Corby Hall.
"Some time ago, a Retreat Council was set up by the diocese to see how these houses could hest serve local pastoral needs. It was felt that Corby Hall could best contribute by providing residential courses for school-leavers.
"Theyhas not, however, been a sufficient response from the schools to justify the continuation of Corby Hall."