September 5, 2014

Sisters of St. Benedict start public phase of triple-purpose campaign

The co-chairs for the Sisters of St. Benedict of Our Lady of Grace Monastery capital campaign pose on Aug. 27 at the event that launched the public phase of the campaign. The co-chairs are Marian University president Daniel Elsener, left, monastery prioress Benedictine Sister Juliann Babcock, St. Luke the Evangelist Parish pastor Msgr. Joseph Schaedel, Constance Lund and Christopher Martin. (Submitted photo by Benedictine Sister Ann Patrice Papesh)

The co-chairs for the Sisters of St. Benedict of Our Lady of Grace Monastery capital campaign pose on Aug. 27 at the event that launched the public phase of the campaign. The co-chairs are Marian University president Daniel Elsener, left, monastery prioress Benedictine Sister Juliann Babcock, St. Luke the Evangelist Parish pastor Msgr. Joseph Schaedel, Constance Lund and Christopher Martin. (Submitted photo by Benedictine Sister Ann Patrice Papesh)

By Natalie Hoefer

In 1959, the average life expectancy in the United States was 69.9 years.

By 2011, the figure had risen to 78.8 years.

But Benedictine Sister Juliann Babcock doesn’t need to see these statistics from the national Centers for Disease Control to know that times have changed.

St. Paul Hermitage was built in 1959,” she said. “Senior population needs are much different now. People are living longer and coming [to the home] later, so they are older.”

Many of the sisters are living longer, too, said Sister Juliann, prioress of the Sisters of St. Benedict’s Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove.

“We still have many sisters age 70 and older who are active,” she said. “But we looked at how many will be in that age bracket in the years to come and what their needs will be.”

That glimpse, plus the reality of the changing needs of those entering senior homes now, led to a new $6.9 million campaign with a triple purpose, Sister Juliann said: to upgrade the St. Paul Hermitage structure; to renovate the health care area of the monastery; and to build a charitable trust for the care of retired sisters.

The decision for the campaign and its goals was guided by advice from the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO), a ministry of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“We didn’t just think, ‘Oh, let’s do this,’ ” said Sister Juliann. “We’ve done a thorough study. We want to be responsible [for] the funds people are giving to us.”

Some of the changes needed at St. Paul Hermitage include widening more doorways for wheelchairs, and other modifications addressing the change in physical needs of those now entering the home.

The possibility of adding a memory care unit is also being investigated.

To meet the needs of retired sisters—both now and in the future— NRRO advised the building of a charitable trust as the top priority, followed by updating the sisters’ own health care unit, which comprises one floor with two wings.

Thus far, the campaign has been in a “silent” phase, seeking the support of major donors.

“Through the generosity of our friends,” said Sister Juliann, 80 percent of the funds have been raised.

On Aug. 27, the sisters thanked those who have already donated and launched the public phase of the campaign with an evening Mass, dinner and entertainment at the monastery.

Daniel Elsener, president of Marian University in Indianapolis and co-chairman of the campaign, spoke at the event.

Msgr. Joseph F. Schaedel, pastor of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis, is also serving as co-chair of the campaign.

“I’ve known [the sisters] since I was in grade school,” he said. “When they built Our Lady of Grace [Monastery], we lived across the street, and my dad went to live at St. Paul Hermitage.”

But Msgr. Schaedel’s appreciation for the works of the sisters and concern for their own care in the future goes deeper.

“The Benedictines have had a long tradition of serving here in the archdiocese, particularly in education,” he said. “But more lately, they’ve served in the care of the elderly at St. Paul Hermitage and in pastoral ministry.

“Right now, it’s pretty common for parishes to have a parish administrator or PLC [parish life coordinator]. The first ones taking on that role were often sisters from Our Lady of Grace.

“I have a great affection for them.”
 

(To donate to the campaign, contact Benedictine Sister Mary Luke Jones at ljonesosb@benedictine.com, or call her at 317-787-3287, ext. 3035. For more information on the Sisters of St. Benedict of Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove, log on to www.benedictine.com.)

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