Nuns praying for a miracle to repay loan

Sisters at Park Place in Wickham are trying to pay off a �500,000 debt. From left:  Sister Evelyn, Sister Karuna, Sister Frances and Sister Imma in the chapel.    Picture: Sarah Standing 110587-4017)
Sisters at Park Place in Wickham are trying to pay off a �500,000 debt. From left: Sister Evelyn, Sister Karuna, Sister Frances and Sister Imma in the chapel. Picture: Sarah Standing 110587-4017)

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NUNS are praying for ‘a miracle’ to help them pay off a £500,000 loan they needed to fix their retreat.

Bookings have slowed down at the Park Place Pastoral Centre in Wickham.

Now the nuns from the Franciscan Sisters of St Mary of the Angels are starting to worry about how they will repay the bill.

The nuns had to carry out major repair work after fire officers reclassified the retreat as a hotel, meaning it must meet strict safety rules.

Sister Evelyn Cardoz, the sister in charge of running the centre, said: ‘The fundraising is going on very slowly. We’ve raised about half of the money so far.

‘We took the loan out two years ago, just before the economy got really bad. We have been doing things like garden parties, calendars and putting on Indian meals for up to 150 people at a time, to keep the fundraising going.

‘And we did get quite good rates on the loan, but the interest is building up so we want to pay it off as soon as we can.

‘Our bookings have gone down at the moment and we have had some bookings cancelled at the last minute. I just pray there will be a miracle sooner rather than later.’

The main building is a grade II listed Georgian mansion and has had various extensions added over the years.

But as the centre takes paying guests it must meet standards used by hotels and has had new fire doors, alarms, external fire escapes, ceilings and electrics installed.

Although the rural centre is run by the eight nuns, it is open to any groups, religious or otherwise, who want to hire it out.

Go to parkplacecentre.org.uk or call (01329) 833043.