ONE of the most significant religious sites in St Helens - Loyola Hall - is to close due to dwindling staff numbers, it has been announced.
The religious retreat, which has been run from the old Rainhill Hall by the Society of Jesuits since 1923, will close its doors after Easter 2014.
Named after the co-founder of the Jesuits, Ignatius of Loyola, the hall is one of two centres in the UK belonging to the society used exclusively for providing spiritual breaks.
Jesuit residential retreats will now be run at St Beuno’s Spirituality Centre in North Wales.
Fr Dermot Preston, head of the British Jesuits, said the decision reflected changes taking place outside Loyola Hall, chiefly because there were fewer Jesuits to run the community.
“I am thus having to plan for the future and realise that we can probably run one residential centre well,” said Fr Preston. “I think it is best to go out at a high-point in our journey rather than let the quality of the ministry dwindle to a point when either place becomes a shadow of itself.”
A spokesman for the Jesuits said the decision had also been influenced by the increasingly residential nature of the surrounding area. Neighbours Rainhill High recently announced plans to build five-a-side football pitches in the schools ground, however the spokesman said this had not directly influenced the decision to shut Loyola Hall.
Loyola Hall was originally built as Rainhill House in 1824 as a coaching house. A decision on what will happen to the Grade II-listed hall is expected to be made later this year.