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st f 04The season of Fall, a season of surrender, reminds us to be receptive to every transformation. Transformation continually invites us towards the future. The Calls of our last General Chapter invited us, as a Congregation, to embrace all forms of transformation.
One transformative change we are experiencing is the closing of St. Francis Convent in Warwick, NY.

We take a moment now to ponder with gratitude the time we spent there -- and all the wonderful people we met who were part of our life story. We know that in every ending there is also a beginning towards new life.

st f 03Warwick is a small village in the western area of New York State. Here in 1924, the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor opened St. Francis Convent, a place for gathering, praying and living in community. It began when the Sisters purchased the Sleicher property, consisting of about 30 acres of land.

The Congregation intended to use the setting for the Sisters to assemble for their annual retreats. Nonetheless, from the very beginning, the Sisters actively engaged in service to the local community by visiting the sick and bringing food and clothing to those in need.

st f 02In 1925, the Sisters had their first retreat on the site. They prepared the setting to meet their needs by building a chapel, renovating the existing structure and erecting the Stations of the Cross in the woods on the property. In the 1930’s, the Sisters were asked to provide catechism instructions to the children of St. Stephen Church and to consider the possibility of opening a hospital. So, in 1939, St. Anthony Community Hospital was officially opened. Early on, the Sisters and their Charism had an impact that extended far beyond the hospital and parish -- and until the 1960’s, young women came to join the Sisters in their effort to “heal the wounds of Christ in poor suffering humanity.”

Also during those years, the Sisters created the current Mt. Alverno Center in a place which originally was a residence for professed members of the community.

The walls of these buildings could tell many stories about the people who came: some to find their life’s call, others to work with the Sisters in the kitchen, laundry and housekeeping, and still others came wanting a remembrance in prayer, a kind word or help when they were in need. Most all, those who came were assured that they would receive a warm welcome and a kind smile.

st f 06Sr Jeanne, sr Betty, sr Teresita, sr KathleenFor almost 10 years the setting also hosted the House of Prayer of the Friars of the Holy Name Providence, who offered days of reflection and retreats. After they left, the house was renovated to meet the needs of older Sisters who wished to remain independent – and who were often engaged with various ministries in the Center, hospital, and parish.

Being attuned to the signs of the times, the building on the ground served many needs, including senior healthcare, alcohol treatment, day care for young children, a restaurant, a dental clinic and a setting where young people could gather.

st f 07Moment of prayerIn 1995, to meet the growing demand for senior care, Schervier Nursing Pavilion, Mt. Alverno Center for Assisted Living and a new chapel were opened for the resident population, taken over in 2000 by the Bon Secours Health System.

St. Francis Convent over the years served in a broader capacity for the Sisters who resided in the Northeast area; it was a place for “homecoming” and gathering together for special occasions. The doors were always open to family, friends, Associates and staff.

We are grateful to God for the many people who shared this precious place with us over the years. We wish to thank all the Sisters who ministered there, particularly Sr. Mary Veronica Donohue and the staff, who made the various transitions as smooth as possible, and also Sr. Pauline Sweeney and Sr. Teresita Samson for their support. We also thank Sr. Theresa Calviello, Sr. Maria Stella Footen, Sr. Marie Veronica Mulligan, Sr. Kathleen Reynolds and Sr. Bernadette Sullivan who resided there in these last years, radiating their presence through our healing Charism.

 

 st f 09Sr Kathleen, sr Teresita, sr Beranadette, sr Anita, sr Betty, sr Pauline, sr Jeanne st f 08Sr Teresita, sr Mary Veronica, sr Theresa, sr Licia

Published: January 4, 2018