MONTECITO, Calif. - The Montecito mudslide ripped through La Casa de Maria Retreat and Conference Center leaving many to believe it was completely wiped out.
“People used to say it was a hidden gem in Montecito,” said Steve Jacobsen, the director of La Casa de Maria. “We were a hidden gem until this week.”
During Sunday's candlelight vigil honoring the victims, Jacobsen spoke and expressed that even though the sanctuary was extremely damaged it’s nothing compared to the lives lost.
“It is the loss of lives that break our hearts most deeply,” said Jacobsen. “Those whose lives are gone deserve every tear we shed.”
Many now are shedding a tear for the place that was so beloved in Montecito. Tuesday's mudslide roared through San Ysidro creek and into the 26- acre property damaging many structures.
Looking inside the chapel you can see where the water ripped through the doors pushing all the chairs to one side of the chapel. Meanwhile, the crucifix was left untouched. Like the cross, the Center of Spiritual Renewal house was also untouched giving many a glimmer of hope in efforts to rebuild.
“That was very inspiring to us,” said Jacobsen. “We are going to recover. A lot of our buildings are looking great. Our mission is indestructible and we have a lot of people that want to do all they can to restore us.”
La Casa de Maria has canceled most of its programs, and a limited number have been relocated or rescheduled. Once they are ready to rebuild there’s no question about the location.
“That spot is sacred to us,” said Jacobsen. “Many people have loved that spot and we have been there since 1943, and for many people being on that land is a spiritual healing place so we are never leaving that property.”
La Casa de Maria is waiting to get some expert opinion about the exact damage of the structures before they move forward with the rebuilding process. They ask people to be patient and follow them on their social media for updates.