FREETOWN, Mass. (WPRI) — For thousands of people in Southeastern Massachusetts, Cathedral Camp in East Freetown has been synonymous with summertime.
Whether they went to day camp for a week, or all summer, they have fond memories of playing on the fields, by the water, and with new friends.
Camp programs were canceled in the summer of 2020 due to the pandemic, and Cathedral Camp announced on their website they were notified by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fall River that the camp would be closed this year due to financial strains.
12 News inquired with the diocese, which sent a statement confirming that the programs and camps held there would be suspended for the foreseeable future:
Concerns about the operation of the Camp have been mounting over the past few years. The annual diocesan subsidy for Camp operations has averaged around $200,000 annually. The other source of funding comes from camp user fees. Together, the total amount was no longer covering the Camp’s yearly costs.
The decision, according to the diocese, came after Bishop Edgar da Cunha assembled an ad hoc committee of clergy and laypersons to investigate the financial and structural integrity of the grounds.
“It just didn’t make sense anymore to keep it open,” the statement said. Some of the buildings were a century old and in need of repair.
Sarah Lemieux said this place means a lot to her. Now in her 30s, she had first attended camp at age eight and went on to be a counselor there to this day. It was part of the inspiration for her becoming a teacher, she added.
“There have been so many memories,” she said. “So many friends that I’ve made here, so many campers that I’ve seen grow from age 4 to when they became counselors with me. It’s just been a wonderful experience and I’m so thankful to have had it.”
At 10 a.m., Mass got out at St. John Neumann Church next door. 12 News spoke with one parishioner, Bill Krause, a Freetown resident whose son and daughter went to Cathedral Camp some 20 years ago.
“It’s been a wonderful addition to the community,” he said. “Countless kids have gone here including my own. They used to have something called bug juice that the kids thought was the greatest thing, but that was the nickname of the punch that they made up and they’d always have fun foods for the kids. They taught the kids some fun things!”
In addition to summer camp, the diocese would also rent out the grounds for confirmation retreats as well as retreats for Catholic high schools through the years.
In the statement, the diocese said church officials would be looking into how to best use the grounds in the future.