SUGARLOAF TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — A local monastery in Luzerne County is closing its doors after decades of serving the faithful community.
The wind chimes in the peace garden behind the Chapel of Holy Dormition Monastery will soon be silent. The friary, which is located in Sybertsville in Sugarloaf Township, has been a landmark and a staple for helping the community since 1947.
“A place of quiet refuge for a lot of people. Through the years, so many people have come in, walked the grounds, or prayed in the chapel,” said Father Jerome Wolbert, guardian of Holy Dormition Friary.
Father Jerome came to the monastery eleven years ago. He says he it’s an unfortunate decision to have to close the doors
“It’s very difficult to know that the doors are going to closing soon,” he said.
One reason for the closure is extensive work required to repair the building. But that’s not the only reason.
“We found that there was just nobody, there aren’t enough friars to go around to serve within the important positions that we have as a province. And so we thought it would be best,” Jerome said.
And while the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t helped the situation, Father Jerome says it is a blessing that churches across the commonwealth were able to keep their doors open for anyone who cared to stop by.
“One person said her last experience here was so good that she’s decided she’s not going to come back to the chapel because she wants to keep that memory in her heart,” said Father Jerome.
We also met with Dr. Saura Rohrbach whose chiropractic office is near the monastery. She tells Eyewitness News she is sad to see the doors closing.
“I was absolutely devastated. I’ve known them since before we bought the property here. They are wonderful people, all the brothers, the fathers that I’ve known over the years,” Rohrbach said.
Even some of her patients express to her how much they will miss the monastery.
“Even my patients will go over to the chapel before their appointment with me or stop after their appointment and light candles and pray… It’s just going to be totally different without the brothers. They’ve been a big part of the valley for decades,” said Dr. Rohrbach.
The final mass at the monestary was held at the end of January. However, Father Jerome says anyone is welcome to stop by the gift shop and chapel through Easter Sunday.
“It’s been a wonderful experience and I’ve made some good friends and I’m very appreciative for the time that I’ve been here,” he said.
Father Jerome says they are in the final stages to sell the property. He says other churches have been reaching out for the religious items. Meanwhile, the furniture is up for sale.