Dutch monasteries face financial crisis due to COVID-19 lockdown

Dutch monasteries face financial crisis due to COVID-19 lockdown

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Due to the coronavirus crisis, monasteries and retreat centers all over the Netherlands had to cancel all of their reservations for the coming months.

Due to the coronavirus crisis, monasteries and retreat centers all over the Netherlands had to cancel all of their reservations for the coming months. Some of these have been postponed to a later date, but in most cases these cancellations mean a significant loss of income, according to an investigation by the Dutch Catholic weekly Katholiek Nieuwsblad.

In a letter to their benefactors a retreat center in the south of the Netherlands recently raised the alarm: The center fears losing fifteen percent of their annual turnover: approximately $85,000. If nothing happens, it fears being pushed into the red.

This retreat center is not the only one being hit hard by the current crisis. St. Adelbert Abbey on the North Sea coast will also miss out on thousands of dollars, says the secretary of the abbot. The abbey has a guesthouse, but reservations cannot be postponed as the guesthouse has been almost fully booked for the rest of the year. Their shop is also closed at the moment. “We still send out orders for paschal candles and other things, but we’re certainly facing a loss of income at the moment.”

The retreat center run by the Community of Saint John in The Hague had to cancel all reservations up until the month of June. The center is closed during the summer months anyway. This means they lose over $50,000. “We’ll have to wait and hope for better times,” Father Thomas Kremer says. “We’re currently drawing upon our reserves and major maintenance works will have to wait.”

Another retreat center in the eastern part of the Netherlands says they’re able to postpone up to ninety percent of their reservations in the coming months. Nevertheless, the center expects to lose over $900,000, says their chairman. The center has received a lot of encouraging words and also donations, which he thinks is “great, but unfortunately financially it doesn’t match the income of hosting an average retreat.”

A Trappist monastery in the south of the country is trying to postpone reservations, but “that’s not always successful,” said the abbot. He has no direct solution. “The consequences are enormous for retreat centers and guest houses that are a source of income for monasteries.”

But it’s not only the monasteries and retreat centers that are facing a loss of income. Parishes also feel the financial consequences of the current crisis. With Masses being banned until Pentecost, they are missing out on the weekly donations of their parishioners. Parishes are looking for new ways to make up for lost income, such as donating online or through a special app. A parish in the south of the country is thankful for this solution:

“The loss of income would have been far greater if digital donations would not have been possible.”

This news article was translated for Crux by Susanne Kurstjens – van den Berk.

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