Deacon 'Heartbroken' About Lynchburg Retreat's Closure

Lynchburg, VA - Tucked behind a wooded lot on Langhorne Road and across the street from Lynchburg General Hospital, the Tabor Retreat Center has been source of spiritual healing.

The deacon said he's shocked and heartbroken over learning it's among two retreat centers shutting down, effective September 25, 2013.

The Catholic Diocese of Richmond said the center, founded in 1988, operated on a nearly $100,000 deficit in the last five years.

Deacon Gordon Cartwright said he learned the Tabor Retreat Center was going to close last month during a meeting with the diocese on Skype.

"Many people are a lot better people today because of this place. And you cannot measure money with that," Cartwright said, among the packed boxes now consuming his office.

Along with the regular youth and ministry retreats, homeless, addicts, and protestants also visited the center for refuge.

"Oh, it's such a shame," Jean Radford said, looking at the overgrown garden.

She survived two heat strokes in the 20 years she spent taking care of the center's seven gardens, earning her the nickname Garden Angel.

"Right now, I think the devil's been in here," she said, laughing.

As a volunteer, Radford's witnessed hundreds of transformations, but one group of AIDS patients back in the 1980's stands out.

"They could come here and they would support each other. And we had fun, too. We had talent shows," Radford remembered.

"Not one person in this building would ever judge them like the world out there does," Deacon Cartwright added.