After 133 years of caring for the Toledo area’s elderly poor, the Little Sisters of the Poor announced they will leave their Sacred Heart Home in Oregon this winter.
Sisters announced the decision Friday to residents, families, lay associates, staff, and volunteers. Bishop Daniel Thomas lauded the sisters’ invaluable “care for the poor, sick, elderly and dying in our diocese.”
“Their public witness of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience, and selfless service in Jesus’ name of their brothers and sisters in need have been a tremendous blessing for countless individuals and families,” the bishop said in a written statement.
“We understand the Sisters are engaged in strategic planning and new initiatives which will address challenges, including an aging community coupled with declining vocations, that precipitated the Little Sisters to make such a decision,” he said.
The Rev. Mark Cregan, general counsel for the Little Sisters, said many factors contribute to such a decision, which aims to strategically target areas of greatest need.
Residents at the home will have the option to stay at Sacred Heart under new operators or move to another home sponsored by Little Sisters of the Poor.
“Know that if you wish to go to any of our other Homes so that you can continue to be part of the Little Sisters’ family, you will be welcomed with open arms,” said Mother Jeanne Mary Piche, superior of Sacred Heart Home, in a letter to residents.
Sacred Heart is home to 73 residents in a mix of skilled nursing, assisted living, and apartments.
Father Cregan said the nine sisters serving in Oregon will be reassigned to one of the 24 Little Sisters locations in the United States or a post abroad. Little Sisters operates 175 sites in about 20 countries, he said. Little Sisters in Scranton, Pa., and St. Louis also recently made a decision to withdraw, he said.
Discussions are under way with a Catholic senior living group to acquire and operate the Sacred Heart Home on South Wynn Road, according to the announcement.
The Little Sisters have served northwest Ohio continuously since 1885, according to the general order of the Little Sisters, which was founded in 1839. The first location on Front and Platt streets in East Toledo was one of several the sisters and their residents called home.
After moves to buildings on Starr Avenue in 1889 and Navarre Avenue in 1969, the Little Sisters have been at the corner of Navarre Avenue and South Wynne Road since 2003.
A September 1939 newspaper article marking “a century of kindness” of the sisters’ general order noted things had changed since they first arrived in Toledo 55 years earlier.
“For years the black covered wagon of the Little Sisters made its rounds in Toledo seeking donations of anything that would be serviceable to feed and shelter its aged charges,” the newspaper article read. “Recently this was replaced with a delivery truck. But there is nothing too modern about the service of this Order which seeks to meet one of mankind’s most ancient needs — kindness.”
The diocese will celebrate a Mass at 5 p.m. Dec. 1 at Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral to honor and thank the Little Sisters for their years of service.
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