Wilton nursing home for religious to close

A member of the School Sisters of Notre Dame has died from complications of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

A member of the School Sisters of Notre Dame has died from complications of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

Jeannette Ross / Hearst Connecticut Media

Twenty-one sisters living at the Lourdes Health Care Center on Belden Hill Road in Wilton will be moving by the end of this month as the nursing home is closed.

The future of Villa Notre Dame, part of the 38-acre campus, is also in question as the School Sisters of Notre Dame Atlantic-Midwest Province is in discussion with developers.

Both facilities serve as residences for retired or semi-retired sisters and sisters requiring skilled care. However, the need for this kind of residential space has decreased over the past several years, and all indications are that it will continue to decrease in the future. Therefore, the School Sisters are looking to divest of this property. The 85 or so sisters who will not be leaving this month will remain on the property for the foreseeable future.

A spokesperson for the sisters could not offer any details on what kind of development is under discussion but said negotiations with two developers are underway. Neither would be unable to provide skilled nursing care, which prompted the closing of the health care facility.

The sisters who will leave Lourdes will be moved to Ozanam Hall, a skilled-nursing facility of the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and the Infirm, in Queens, N.Y. This move will occur during the week of Sept. 23-30.

“The decision to move the Sisters from Lourdes is not one that was made lightly,” a statement from the Atlantic-Midwest Province said. “It was done only after a great deal of prayer, dialogue and reflection.”

Villa Notre Dame

The convent has been operating in Wilton since 1961. The campus encompasses Villa Notre Dame, which includes 200 residential units, a dining facility, chapel, offices, gym, and commercial kitchen; the 40-bed Lourdes Healthcare Center, a Montessori School, and several houses.

Villa Notre Dame was built as a college for the sisters, The College of Our Lady of Wilton. Only sisters or those in the process of becoming sisters (novices, postulants) were admitted as students.

Just last year, the sisters had installed a ground-mounted solar system complemented by a roof-mounted system on the healthcare center. The 122 kW ground-mounted system and 37 kW rooftop system generates about 200,000 kWh per year, about 25% of the campus’s electrical needs.

The system was also expected to generate about $20,600 a year in renewable energy credits and an average annual savings of more than $15,000 during the term of the power purchase agreement, according to MHR Development, which conducted the installation.

One of the most distinctive, and beloved, buildings on the campus is the chapel, which features a number of stained-glass windows designed by the Lithuanian artist V.K. Jonyas. The chapel was severely damaged by fire in January 1988 and to combat the blaze, firefighters had to break through several of the windows.

When Jonyas, who emigrated to the U.S., heard of the destruction he insisted on restoring them himself and the chapel was rededicated in November of the same year. The chapel has been the site of several concerts and special events through the years.

The School Sisters of Notre Dame is an international congregation, with nearly 2,400 sisters living and ministering in 30 countries. It was founded in 1833 in Bavaria and came to North America in 1847. The sisters direct their ministries toward education.

The Atlantic-Midwest Province is one of 10 provinces worldwide. Its members minister in and out of formal educational settings in more than 32 dioceses across North America and in England. They work in many places that serve people who are poor and marginalized, helping them further their education, find employment, or provide nutritious food for themselves and their families. They recognize that education of the whole person does not stop when the person finishes formal schooling.

Information: amssnd.org or 410-377-7774.