February 2, 1937 Groundbreaking of Villa Maria by-the-Sea, Stone Harbor, NJ

Retreat House of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
February 2, 1937 Groundbreaking
June 29, 1937 Dedication and Corner Stone Laying

Early in 1936, Mother Kostka McCormick (Mother General from 1935 to 1940) had a serious challenge; both financial and spiritual in nature. The community had previously owned a retreat house in Cape May, NJ. After the hurricane of 1933 and several lesser storms, the coastline had eroded so rapidly that the Retreat Rectory had washed out to sea and the sisters’ retreat house was undermined with water. Some sisters remember their senior members recalling that water could be heard swishing under the building.

Mother Kostka and her council, realizing the need for the sisters’ spiritual and physical renewal, explored the southern New Jersey coast, sought church and legal advice, and purchased 4 ½ acres of land in Stone Harbor. Time being a prime concern, plans moved forward. To the chagrin of all, the bids drawn up were well over the planned budget. Later, Mother Marie Alma in her book commented: “There was no alternative, however, so secure in the knowledge that Divine Providence would provide.”

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