Religious community has served elderly poor in Richmond since 1874
When the Little Sisters of the Poor announced on Oct. 30, 2019, that they were leaving Richmond, they noted that St. Joseph’s Home was not closing. It didn’t, and it won’t.
In a joint statement released Tuesday, March 2, the Little Sisters and Accordius Health announced that the latter will take over operation of the home.
During a video posted on the Little Sisters’ website, Congregation of Holy Cross Father Mark T. Creegan, lawyer for the religious community, said the transfer would “take a few months.”
“We will be transferring licenses, obtaining regulatory approvals, preparing to transition operations,” he said. “When these processes are complete, the operations of the home will be transferred to Accordius.”
Responding to an email from The Catholic Virginian, the priest said that both parties agreed not to disclose the sale price “at this time.”
The Little Sisters have operated a home for the aged in the Richmond area since 1874. St. Joseph’s Home is situated on an eight-acre campus and is licensed for 32 nursing beds, 40 assisted living beds and 23 independent living apartments. There is also a house on the property known as “the cottage,” which has been used as a guest house. Current residents of St. Joseph’s will continue to reside in the home after the transfer.
During an interview with The Catholic Virginian in October 2019, Mother Jeanne Mary said the Little Sisters’ decision to leave the diocese was part of the “strategizing” the religious community had been doing over the previous five years due to the declining number of vocations. They had already withdrawn from homes in St. Louis, Chicago, Cleveland and several other cities.
Kim Morrow, chief operating officer for Accordius Health, which operates 41 health care facilities throughout North Carolina and Virginia, said in the video, “We are committed to continuing the Little Sisters’ tradition of caring for and recognizing the dignity of every resident we will have the privilege to serve.”
Father Cregan told The Catholic Virginian in 2019 that the model the Little Sisters used for charging most of the residents at the home was a “hybrid” — one in which residents paid only 30% of their income for rent while the sisters did fundraising to make up the other 70%.
When asked if Accordius would employ that same model, Father Cregan said, “We haven’t spoken about this in particular, but Accordius will honor this formula for all current residents.”
Sister Loraine Marie Clare, provincial superior of the Little Sisters of the Poor, stated in the press release, “Becoming part of the Accordius Health network should provide both the resources and the expertise necessary to provide quality care to the residents for years to come. While it is always difficult for the Little Sisters to withdraw from any of our homes, knowing that the residents will continue to receive good care does provide us comfort.”
In the video, Mother Jeanne Mary, superior for the Little Sisters who serve at St. Joseph’s Home, expressed gratitude for all who have supported their mission.
“They have been integral to the success of our work,” she said.
Bishop Barry C. Knestout, in a statement released the day of the announcement, noted that when the sisters announced their decision to leave the area in 2019 that Mother Jeanne Mary said they would not leave until the day came when “everything had been handed over to a suitable buyer.”
“The special charisms of the Little Sisters of the Poor — the spirit of being a family and creating a home for those in need — will be deeply missed in the Diocese of Richmond, but we fully support the sisters as they discern how their community can provide the best care possible for those to whom they minister,” the bishop said. “I offer prayers of gratitude for all the Little Sisters who have served at St. Joseph’s Home and pray that they will find a welcoming family atmosphere wherever they are assigned.”
He added that he continued to pray for an increase in vocations to the Little Sisters and to all consecrated religious communities “so that their missions may be strengthened in the years to come.”
Thrifty Sisters store to remain
Since 2012, the Thrifty Sisters store has helped the Little Sisters of the Poor fund their work in caring for the elderly poor at St. Joseph’s Home.
With the sale of St. Joseph’s Home to Accordius Health, what would become of the not-forprofit thrift store?
“The Thrifty Sisters will continue,” Congregation of Holy Cross Father Mark T. Cregan, legal counsel for the Little Sisters, told The Catholic Virginian in a Tuesday, March 2, email. “The Little Sisters allowed them to become independent of the home and remain a charitable entity.”
The store, located at 8911 Patterson Ave, Richmond, is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. It welcomes volunteers and donations. For further information visit www.thriftysistersrva.org or call 804- 658-4153.