• This article first appeared in the ColoradoBoulevard.net February 2021 Print Edition. After being contacted by many Sierra Madre residents, we decided to release it early online.

      Green pastures and deer grazing

      Area to be sold (Photo – Jean Sudbury)

      Fourteen years ago, The Passionists of Holy Cross Province determined it needed to sell a portion of the Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center property located in Sierra Madre in order to provide funds to support its educational, spiritual development and community service missions and to care for its aging priests, sisters and brothers.

      By Jean Sudbury

      Mater Dolorosa is located on 88 acres, 45 of which are hillside, 23 of which are dedicated to the retreat center and 20 of which are below the retreat center and known as “The Meadows.” This is the area to be sold and developed.

      As with all matters undertaken by the Passionists, the sale and development of The Meadows has been undertaken with the goal of preserving the peacefulness of the retreat center and the surrounding neighborhoods.

      Congregation of the Passionists

      The Congregation of the Passionists was founded 300 years ago by Paulo Francesco Daneii (Paul of the Cross), an Italian mystic. His vision was to care for others and encourage meditation on the message of Jesus Christ. In the U.S., there are four Passionist retreat centers. Land was purchased in 1924 for Mater Dolorosa and the retreat center began in 1926; Mater Dolorosa is the last of these retreat centers to sell land to support the mission of the Holy Cross Province.

      Mater Dolorosa

      The centerpiece of the property originally was a monastery. Following the 1991 Sierra Madre earthquake, the structural foundations of the monastery were too weak to rebuild. The monastery was replaced by the Monastery Memorial Gardens, which include Sacred Heart Plaza, The Garden of Seven Sorrows and an amphitheater for musical performances.

      Before 1975, all who worked and lived on the property were priests, nuns and brothers, vowed members of the Passionists. More lay members (“lay ministers”) are now involved with the Passionists at Mater Dolorosa. The retreat center has an open-door policy; the price for attending a retreat is a “suggested donation,” and Mater Dolorosa also relies on donations from individuals and organizations. In response to the COVID-19 challenges, Mater Dolorosa offered online spiritual development opportunities and repurposed its kitchens to cook, package and freeze meals for about 250 seniors per week. In addition, Foothills Kitchens and St. Francis Center use the kitchen and staff to provide 1,000 meals per week for those in need. With the support of the City of Sierra Madre and donors, Mater Dolorosa estimates that over 55,000 meals have been offered to people in need. The gardens are used for daytime retreats with social distancing. A network of parishes and local community members seeking solitude and silence also use the Mater Dolorosa grounds.

      a land with amphitheatre

      Panorama View of Mater Dolorosa (Photo – Jean Sudbury)

      Decision to sell

      Through the years since the decision to sell was made, the Board of Directors of Mater Dolorosa has evaluated various plans for The Meadows, including reaching out to “Angel Donors” for possible conservation purposes and purchase by the City of Sierra Madre. In March 2020, the conclusion was reached that the Board of Directors would work with the City, a homebuilder and residents for residential development of the property, including a City park, in a manner that would blend with the neighborhoods, be environmentally sensitive and protect the ongoing mission of the retreat center in a peaceful setting. In April 2020, the City Council of Sierra Madre entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with New Urban West, Inc. to create a framework for a new housing development on The Meadows.

      Information on the development of The Meadows can be found by contacting the City of Sierra Madre or going to the City website, contacting New Urban West, Inc., or going to materdolorosa.org.

      Zoom meetings hosted by New Urban West, Inc. will be held on Wednesday, March 3, at 6:00 pm and Thursday, March 4, at 6:00 pm to receive comments from the community and discuss the specific plan and environmental impact report.

      > This article appeared in the ColoradoBoulevard.net February 2021 print edition.

      We hope you appreciated this article. Before you move on, please consider supporting the Colorado Boulevard’s journalism.

      Some wealthy, hedge fund owners, and local journalistic charlatans, have a powerful hold on the information that reaches the public. Colorado Boulevard stands to serve the public interest – not profit motives.

      While fairness guides everything we do, we know there is a right and a wrong position in the fight against racism and climate crisis while supporting reproductive rights and social justice. We provide a fresh perspective on local politics – one so often missing from so-called ‘local’ journalism.

      You can access Colorado Boulevard’s paywall-free journalism because of our unique reader-supported model. People like you, informed readers, keep us independent, beholden to no outside influence, and accessible to everyone.

      Please consider supporting Colorado Boulevard today. Thank you. (Click to Support)



      1. Jerry Giberti Sr. says:

        Those are deer in the photo. Kiss them goodbye!

      2. Nini Paredes says:

        RE: The Meadows at Sierra Madre/Mater Dolorosa

        Are they, New Urban West?
        going to build houses on the land?

      3. Jasper Jones says:

        What a sad joke this statement is:

        “As with all matters undertaken by the Passionists, the sale and development of The Meadows has been undertaken with the goal of preserving the peacefulness of the retreat center and the surrounding neighborhoods.”

        Completely dishonest. Sierra Madre has years of truck traffic, dust and mayhem to look forward to enduring. Sad that the Foothill Village needs to pay such a price to help the Passionists cover some rather large legal bills.


      4. Clyde F Stauff says:

        There is a much better assisted living alternative to 41 single family homes. Much less coverage of the site and traffic. Only 100 apartment units, not 300 as depicted in the Urban West alternative development scheme. Assisted living fits the current zoning…no hospitalization, sirens or skilled nursing. The Monastery and City of Sierra Madre need to consider the assisted living option.

      5. A short background on Mater Dolorosa, development, housing, a new park…

      Leave a Reply

      Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *