St. Mary’s Sewanee Closed to the Public until Further Notice

St. Mary’s Sewanee: The Ayres Center for Spiritual Development is closed to the public until further notice.

St. Mary’s Sewanee is leasing its residential buildings to the University of the South until May 2021. This arrangement means that the University has a place for its students to live safely with greater social distancing than is available on its campus. By adding our 50 rooms to their housing options, the University expands its ability to offer safe education and housing at a time when we cannot be open.

Opening the retreat center to guests will not be possible until next summer, at the earliest. Until then, the essence of St. Mary’s Sewanee and our retreats continue through new channels and with new online programming. Registration is open now for many of these virtual retreats and workshops.

St. Mary’s Sewanee takes the health and safety of our guests, staff, and volunteers very seriously. We are following the guidelines from the Tennessee Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization. Because of this exceptional emergency we have modified our policies in the following ways:

For individuals

If you are scheduled to attend a St. Mary’s Sewanee-sponsored retreat or coming on a personal retreat and must cancel because of illness, we are offering three options:       

—  donate your retreat or cancellation fee to SMS (for which we will gratefully follow-up with a letter for
tax purposes),       

—   carry your payment forward to rebook a future program, or       

—   request a refund.

For people attending a retreat organized by someone else

If you are with a partner group that is hosting your retreat at St. Mary’s Sewanee, you should contact your group leader about changing your plans.


For groups having a retreat at St. Mary’s Sewanee

Groups that have a retreat scheduled at SMS and choose to cancel because of COVID-19 have three options for their deposits and payments:       

—   deposits can be applied to rebooking for a future date;       

—   deposits can be donated to SMS (and we will issue you a receipt for this donation); or       

—   deposits can be forfeited without any additional charges.If you choose to have your payment refunded, please allow 4 to 6 weeks for processing.

St. Mary’s Sewanee has always been a safe haven for people during times of turmoil. We hope to be that again soon, but out of an abundance of caution, must make this tough decision now.