PACIFIC CITY — A secluded coastal retreat used for decades by Jesuit priests, the Jesuit Volunteers Corps and other Catholics is up for sale.
Nestucca Sanctuary, a 93-acre nature preserve with a small lodge, rustic dormitories and a yurt, was available in a sealed bid auction that closed Dec. 5. As of press time, neither the Jesuits nor Tillamook County officials knew the identity of the buyer. The realtor in charge of the auction did not answer multiple calls.
The parcel is largely undeveloped and drew interest from 30 groups or individuals who took tours. The price is estimated at $1.3 million. For 20 years, stretching from the late 1980s until 2005, the sanctuary was the home of the brilliant, sweet-tempered Jesuit Father Andy Dufner. A slim physicist who taught in Seattle and Leuven in Belgium, he donned rubber boots and work clothes and tended the grounds, making it a sanctuary for animals as well as humans.
Thousands of retreatants would come a few at a time, bumping down an unmarked dirt road. Families, communities and individuals would hold retreats at the site, sharing meals in the big house, including cartons of low-cost ice cream Father Dufner kept on hand. Because of the rusticity, and Father Dufner’s magnanimity, costs for retreats were low.
After Father Dufner’s death from cancer in 2005 at age 73, the identity of the sanctuary faded. Bill Lockyear, chief financial officer of the Jesuits’ Oregon Province, says the land has been fairly empty for about five years.
The Jesuits developed the site in the late 1930s to be used by novices and others in formation. It was a site of summer study and prayer with views of Nestucca Bay and the Pacific.
Money from sale of the land will go to current Jesuit seminary programs.
The Nature Conservancy, which preserves wild lands, made an offer, but it was well below the assessed value and the Jesuits rejected it.
The site is zoned for recreational use. The land could hold a retreat center, camp or event center, and even a house or two. With current zoning, it could not be used for a hotel or a subdivision.