Tag Archive | "Cormaria"

Cormaria Celebrates 65 Years as a Retreat House

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By Mara Certic

In 1949, with just $100 in her pocket, Mother Frances Dunne set out to transform a stately summer home into a retreat for those in need of some peace and quiet. And this Sunday, November 23, Cormaria will celebrate its 65th anniversary of Mother Frances’s dream coming true.

Shipbuilder and real estate tycoon Frank C. Havens built the Victorian mansion atop 18 acres on the waterfront on Bay Street in 1905 when he returned to his hometown of Sag Harbor after making his fortune in California. As the story goes, Mr. Havens wanted to build a summer home on the highest land in the area.

The interior of the house was grand and luxurious. Designed by Tiffany Studios of New York, the interior of the house was decorated with embossed wall-coverings made of leather.

Mr. Havens died in 1917, and that year the house was sold to the Marshall family, owners of the famed Chicago department store, who also used it as a private house.

In 1943, the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary bought the building to use as a finishing school for young Catholic women. According to Sister Ann Marino, the director of Cormaria, the majority of the students were Hispanic girls who traditionally had gone to finishing schools in Switzerland after completing their studies. After war broke out in Europe in 1939, however, many thought it was too dangerous to send their children there for schooling, and so Cormaria became a place of learning.

“Then the nuns decided they would take a risk and open the retreat house for women—we never had retreat houses, we were in education,” Sister Ann said during a telephone interview this week.

Cormaria held its first retreat on Thanksgiving Day, 1949 and hasn’t stopped since. The first retreat was rather small. Sister Ann imagines there were 15, possibly 20 women there.

In 1960, an extension was built to add 28 more beds, and in 1999 there was another addition. Cormaria can now accommodate up to 72 guests. Last weekend alone, it hosted 40 women.

Originally a women’s-only retreat, Cormaria now opens its doors to people of all genders, persuasions and religions. In the early 1990s, Cormaria became one of the first retreat houses to welcome people suffering from AIDS and HIV. It now holds weekend retreats for people in 12-step programs, and in the summer time it holds eight-day retreats in silence.

Cormaria also holds workshops, teacher conferences, and students from Marymount schools all over come to visit and stay.

“But the theme is be still and know your God,” Sister Ann said. “It’s a place for people to stop. We’re living in a world that is too busy and we need to slow down,” she said.

Sister Ann built a hermitage at Cormaria in 1989, and the center also has a chapel, a professional kitchen, a dining room and several small conference rooms. The entire building is handicapped accessible.

Sister Ann believes the future of Cormaria “looks good,” she said. But it has had its  share of financial difficulties, and keeping prices of weekend retreats reasonable—they currently cost $180—can be trying, she said.

“It’s very affordable, and we try to keep it affordable,” she said. When Cormaria first opened, there were retreat houses both on Shelter Island and in Water Mill. Now, Cormaria is one of only two retreat houses on Long Island. Sister Ann attributes the dwindling number of these escapes to not only staffing shortages, but also financial difficulties.

The immediate future of Cormaria may involve some renovations, Sister Ann said.

“The lady on the bay has weathered many storms, and we’re hoping to give her a facelift—she deserves one,” she said.

“We’re not tearing anything down but painting and plumbing,” she added.

“Cormaria is here, it’s a treasure, it’s a jewel in the heart of Sag Harbor. And it’s here for people to come and be still,” she said.

“Every week I get calls from people to pray and we feel we’re really part of the community. People do come, and anyone can come, we never close our doors to anyone,” she added.

“Mother Francis told me when she began all this all she had was $100,” Sister Ann said, “Never in her wildest dreams would she have thought Cormaria would grow like this.”

On Sunday, November 23, at 2 p.m. Bishop William Murphy will celebrate a liturgy of Thanksgiving at Cormaria.


East End Digest – December 4

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Holiday Tea and Décor Light Up Cormaria

Over 100 people turned out for Cormaria Retreat House’s annual holiday tea and Christmas décor workshop on Saturday, November 29. Sister Ann Marino and her fellow sisters in the order opened the doors of the former captain’s mansion for an afternoon that featured a workshop in creating holiday table décor.

Michael Grimm of Sag Harbor Florist, a longtime supporter of Cormaria, led participants through the intricate yet straightforward creation of floral designs to grace their holiday tables. Following the workshop, guests moved into the great entranceway of the mansion for a concert of seasonal carols and hymns performed by the Harbor Bells handbell choir. At the concert’s end, Sister Ann invited everyone to participate in one of the nun’s old traditions of marking pristine white starfish with the name of loved ones ill or lost who they wished the nuns to keep in their prayers. The starfish were then placed on the sister’s Tree of Remembrance with the promise to have their loved ones remembered in prayer.

New York State: Property Tax Relief Report Accepted

On December 2, the New York State Commission on Property Tax Relief issued its final report to Governor David Paterson and the state legislature. The report contains dozens of measures that are aimed at reducing the costs for local school districts and provide relief to New York taxpayers, who pay some of the highest local taxes in the nation.

The report contains 32 recommendations, including a property tax cap and several additional proposals designed to rein in school districts’ costs, therefore addressing what the state perceives as the root cause of high property taxes. Included in those recommendations are consolidation measures, a property tax cap, limiting of school district operational costs, among others. Also suggested is a STAR “circuit breaker,” which would provide targeted relief to individual taxpayers based on income and ability to pay through an income tax credit.

“This report provided many thoughtful recommendations that I am in support of,” said State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. on Tuesday. “The main recommendation is the need for a property tax cap. As one of the initial supporters of the cap, I am encouraged that the commission, as well as the governor are continuing their support of this measure.  I am also in support of the commission’s recommendation to promote school consolidation. I am currently drafting a bill based on a Maine law recently passed which will provide for such consolidation.  Finally, I support the commission’s finding that unfunded mandates are a large part of high property taxes and that they need to be eliminated.”

Southampton Town: County Road 39 Workshop

Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot and members of the town’s department of land management invite all residents to a public workshop this week to discuss the future of the County Road 39 “corridor” and the issues facing decision makers regarding the area’s future land use.

Running concurrently with the CR 39 corridor moratorium, the town’s consultants and planning staff will conduct a full-fledged area study in order to make recommendations on design, zoning, and possible future uses. The results of the public workshop, consisting primarily of input from residents and business representatives, will then be incorporated into an overall plan.

The workshop will be held at the Tuckahoe Common School cafetorium on Magee Street in Southampton on Thursday, December 4 from 7 to 9 p.m.

New York State Assembly: Enforcing Gas Laws

New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. has called upon State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to investigate existing illegal gasoline pricing practices and enforce the new prohibition on zone pricing of gasoline. The new law went into effect on November 24.

“In enacting the zone pricing law, the state legislature found that zone pricing was ‘artificial price manipulation.’ Zone pricing is the setting of different wholesale prices for gasoline for gasoline retailers that operate in different geographic areas. The legislature further found such practices harm consumers around the state, including the South Fork. We have outlawed this practice. It is clear that the major oil companies are challenging the state to enforce the law. The Attorney General must meet that challenge with quick and aggressive enforcement.”

Under the law, the state attorney general may seek to enjoin violations of the zone pricing law as well as seek restitution, additional allowances and civil penalties.

“My informal survey of gasoline prices indicates that there exist price differentials of 20 cents or more between the South Fork service stations and other regions just miles away,” added Thiele. “It is clear these differentials are based only on geography and not legitimate economic factors.”

Thiele urges South Fork residents to write or e-mail his office with any evidence of illegal zone pricing, which he will forward to the state attorney general.

Sagaponack: Deadline Extended For Pike Farm

The Hopping family in Sagaponack has decided to extend the amount of time the Peconic Land Trust has to raise over $8 million to preserve and save Pike Farm Stand on Sagg Main Street. The Peconic Land Trust originally had until mid-October, but the Hopping family has decided to extend that until April.

Hallockville Museum Farm: Victorian Christmas

Hallockville Museum Farm’s annual Victorian Christmas will take place on Sunday, December 7 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. The event includes guided tours of the fully decorated historic Hallock Homestead, costumed interpreters, musicians performing through the day, antique dollhouses, antique toys and much more. Something new this year is a celebration of a Polish-American Christmas in the recently restored Cichanowicz Farm House. The Depression-era home will be decorated as it would have been in the 1930s.  Sometime in the afternoon, Santa is expected to arrive in Hallockville’s own bright red 1939 Ford farm truck. There will be special activities for children, horse-drawn carriage rides and antique trains from the Long Island Railroad Museum. A holiday market in the Naugles barn will feature hand-made crafts and Christmas accessories. Admission for adults is $8 per person, including free cider, hot chocolate and mincemeat tarts served in the Homestead kitchen; $4 for children ages 6 to 12; younger children are free; and families (two adults and children 12 and under) are $20. All fees directly support the museum farm’s educational programming and mission of re-connecting the community with its agricultural heritage.

Nature Conservancy: Green Gifts 

This holiday season, The Nature Conservancy on Long Island is encouraging consumers to give gifts that will go twice as far – gifts that will delight loved ones while also protecting and preserving some of our most precious habitats for future generations.

“Interest in green gifts is at an all-time high, and starting at just $10, the Conservancy makes it easy to stretch each dollar,” said Nancy Kelley, Executive Director of The Nature Conservancy on Long Island “It’s an opportunity to give your friends and loved ones a unique holiday gift that’s also a lasting and secure investment for the future of our planet.”

For 2008, the Conservancy’s green gift offerings include opportunities to adopt an acre of a threatened landscape, protect Palau’s stunning coral reefs, and plant trees in South America’s Atlantic Forest. The conservancy’s new holiday gift site at nature.org/giftguide features an interactive map, photos, and fact sheets to introduce holiday shoppers to the regions they’re invited to protect.


East End Digest – November 6

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Looking Towards Christmas

Sag Harbor residents are already gearing up for the Christmas holidays with a planned afternoon tea and Christmas workshop. Last week Dolores Zebrowski, Sister Ann Marino, Michael Grim, Carol Ahlers, and Diana Brennan began planning the event, which will take place on November 29 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Southampton Town: 20th Anniversary

Officials from the Town of Southampton’s Department of Public Safety celebrated today as its Hazardous Material Team reached the 20th anniversary of its activation.

Started in 1988, the team was designed to supplement the local volunteer fire service with individuals providing advanced training and specialized equipment, and who could respond to incidents involving chemicals, fuels, biological agents, radioactive materials, and unknown substances. In doing so, the team can bring to bear guide meters, protective suits, computer mapping programs, and skills in “protecting the citizens of Southampton from the release of materials dangerous to life and health.”

“Many of the Hazmat Team members have background in the fire and emergency medical services,” said Supervisor Linda Kabot. Town Public Safety Officer John Ryan added that Hazmat participants have also been trained in basic chemistry, identification of unknown substances, transportation-related incidents, and monitoring radioactive material. There has also been instruction in subjects to meet the changing times in regard to terrorism — including weapons of mass destruction.

“Training, drills, and daily working partnerships help to keep the members in sync as a team,” added Kabot. 

Stony Brook Southampton: Ocean Issues

The School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences and Stony Brook Southampton will present a talk on how increasing ocean acidification is affecting ocean ecosystems in its “Critical Issues Facing the World’s Oceans” lecture series. Last month’s talk on endangered marine fishes was attended by over 90 audience members.

Dr. Cindy Lee, a SUNY Distinguished Professor, will discuss “Ocean Acidification and the Global Carbon Cycle” on Friday, November 7, at 7:30 p.m. in Stony Brook Southampton’s Duke Lecture Hall. A reception will follow. For further information, call 632-5046.

Global warming is just one of the results of increasing carbon dioxide concentrations. This gas also forms an acid when it dissolves in water, and is thus acidifying the oceans. Coral reefs and calcareous shells are in danger of depletion. One of the few natural processes that removes carbon dioxide from the ocean’s surface waters is the sinking of particles to the deep sea. These particles carry organic carbon with them that is derived from the surface plants and animals in the ocean.

 Professor Lee has studied the organic chemistry of the oceans for the past 35 years and has focused on the transport of particulate carbon to the ocean’s interior. She has participated in research cruises in the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian and Southern Oceans, with most recent work in the Mediterranean Sea. Dr. Lee will describe how ocean acidification is occurring, and how particle transport processes will be affected.

Suffolk County: Specials, Please

It’s not an uncommon experience to go to a restaurant and order a special that a waiter or waitress announces is available — and then later, upon receiving the bill, realize it had an especially high price.

A Suffolk County legislator has just introduced a bill to prevent that: a proposed law “requiring restaurants to disclose prices of specials.”

Lynne Nowick of St. James believes that consumers should have the “information necessary to make informed decisions”—and that includes the prices of food in a restaurant.

Her bill charges that “certain restaurants in Suffolk County do not recognize this ‘right to know’ when it comes to their policy for so-called ‘daily specials.’” These do not appear on the regular menu, and restaurants “in many cases fail to voluntarily apprise their customers how much these specials cost.”

As a result, states the resolution, “too often consumers learn when their bill arrives that the special they ordered costs far more than they anticipated.”

If Nowick’s bill is enacted, all restaurants in Suffolk County would have to “give their patrons adequate notice of the prices of all food items offered for sale including those items known as ‘daily specials.’”

This could be by including the price of specials on the regular menu or “on a printed daily specials page” or otherwise “posted in a manner and location so the price” would be “readily observable by patrons.”

The penalty for non-compliance would be enough to give a restaurant operator indigestion: “not less than $50 nor more than $500” for each violation.

The proposed law would be enforced by the Suffolk County Office of Consumer Affairs. It has gone to legislative committee for consideration.

Reported by karl grossman        

Suffolk County: Gang Seminar

Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent F. DeMarco will host the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office Second Annual Gang Seminar this Thursday, November 6 at 9 a.m. at the Smithtown Sheraton in Smithtown.

The seminar will feature multiple speakers with expertise in gang intelligence, including investigator Sheridan of the New York City Department of Corrections, Detective Gordon of the Chicago Police Department, Retired Investigator Valdez of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, Retired Investigator Harlin from the New York State Police, along with members of the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office Gang Intelligence Unit. The seminar is being presented with the support of the mid-Atlantic Great Lakes Organized Crime Law Enforcement Network.

“It is imperative to realize we are not insulated from the insidious effects of gang violence,” said Sheriff DeMarco. “Gang intelligence gathering and sharing is our best tool in battling today’s organized crime.”

New York State: Home Heating Assistance

Governor David A. Paterson announced on November 3, eligible New Yorkers can apply to the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) for this winter season, allowing them to receive as much as $2,500 to help pay for heating costs. Governor Paterson also highlighted recent changes to HEAP including an expansion in income eligibility requirements for New Yorkers facing an energy emergency. Additionally, Paterson announced an agreement between the state and utility companies, which will allow customers to pay their energy bills and keep service in place using HEAP money.

“Under the best of circumstances, New York winters can be difficult,” said Paterson. “With continued economic uncertainty, it is not just the poor and elderly who will have a difficult time paying for the cost of heating their homes this winter. With high energy prices still a concern, we have greatly increased heating assistance to low-income New Yorkers while expanding eligibility to those earning more but who are still struggling to make ends meet.”

The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) – the agency responsible for administering HEAP in New York – has implemented changes to HEAP that will allow New York’s most vulnerable residents to receive as much as $2,500 this winter season. Additionally, New York will take advantage of a one-time federal authorization to increase the income eligibility for HEAP emergency benefits from $45,312 to $56,635 for a family of four effective January 1, 2009. Income eligible homes without heating fuel that are running low on fuel or have heat-related utility service currently disconnected or scheduled for disconnection, may be eligible for HEAP emergency assistance.

New York State has received $550.9 million in federal HEAP funding, which has enabled the OTDA to allow for those earning more to qualify for an emergency benefit, while also making available a second emergency benefit for those most in need. The increased funding will also enable a $100 regular benefit supplement provided to all HEAP recipients who pay directly for heat starting in January 2009.

In September, Governor Paterson requested that an emergency utility summit be held to address rising energy costs. During the summit, all major utility companies in the state agreed that during the cold weather period they will accept HEAP payments from customers and offer them a fair and reasonable deferred payment agreement.

In addition to increasing eligibility levels for HEAP, the state has also increased HEAP’s regular and emergency benefits to $800 for those heating with oil, kerosene and/or propane, to enable them to purchase a minimum delivery of fuel, and has raised the maximum regular benefit to $585 for all other customers. The state has also received a $32 million increase in the amount of low income funding, approved by the PSC and provided by local utility companies and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSDERA), to improve the energy efficiency of homes. NYSDERA will also spend an additional $2 million this winter to help more New Yorkers reduce their energy while also keeping their homes heated. The state has also worked towards providing $5 million for weatherization and energy efficiency services, designed to enable HEAP recipients to realize immediate energy savings this winter. Ten million dollars has also been made available by LIPA to its low income senior customers for direct bill payment assistance. In addition, LIPA will be expanding its support for improved energy efficiency in homes for all of its customers.

For additional resources, visit HeatSmartNY.org or call 877-NY-SMART, or for HEAP questions, call 1-800-342-3009 or visit www.myBenefits.ny.gov.