Friday, September 22nd | 2 Tishri 5778

Close

Be in the know!

Get our exclusive daily news briefing.

Subscribe
May 26, 2015 4:59 pm

Jewish Nursing Home in Bronx Cares for Dozens of Aging Catholic Nuns

avatar by Shiryn Solny

Email a copy of "Jewish Nursing Home in Bronx Cares for Dozens of Aging Catholic Nuns" to a friend

Jewish Home Lifecare in the Bronx cares for a group of Roman Catholic nuns. Photo: Jewishhome.org.

An elderly-care home in the Bronx that was originally founded to care for the Jewish aged has become home to a group of Roman Catholic nuns, NBC News reported on Sunday.

Roman Catholic tradition has younger nuns caring for their older sisters, but with fewer young women devoting their lives to the religious order, church superiors have been forced to seek alternative health care for the elderly nuns. As a result, 58 sisters, aged 73 to 98, have taken residence at the Jewish Home Lifecare complex in Riverdale.

The elderly sisters have made themselves comfortable in their new accommodations, despite initial hesitation, according to the report. They are actively involved in classes and continue their ministry with acts of service such as holding the hands of dying hospice patients. At the nursing home they stay together and have taken over a few floors, according to The New York Times. The nuns include retired teachers, social workers and nurses.

“This is home now,” said 83-year-old Sister Grace Henke. “When we first came, we were fish out of water.”

Related coverage

August 29, 2017 5:47 pm
0

US Jewish Groups Praise Tillerson’s Renewal of State Department Antisemitism Envoy

US Jewish groups reacted with praise and relief on Tuesday to the news that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is...

Sister Angela Rooney, 98, said at first, “I wanted my convent, my great big chapel, my Stations of the Cross. The very name `Jewish Home’ turned me off. … I don’t think anyone came here with a heavier heart than me.”

The nursing home’s Jewish heritage remains noticeable, with a resident rabbi and kosher meals.

Sister Loretta Theresa Richards, 86, said, “I miss the bacon,” while Sister Maria Goretti Mannix, 83, added, “I notice that we never get ham or pork chops. The food is good, though.”

“It certainly fits our needs,” Richards said about the Jewish Home. “We can stay together, we have our own little chapel. They went out of their way to find a space for us to have Mass. I have to say it was so nice I was a little reluctant, because I took a vow of poverty.”

“We’ve almost all, 95 percent, accepted and acclimated. Those who were resistant have kind of calmed down,” said 92-year-old Sister Rosemarie Bittermann.

More nuns are now over the age of 90 than under 60, Mary Gautier, a researcher at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University told NBC. A 2009 study conducted by the center found that 80 percent of U.S. nuns were over 60.

Robin Eggert, president of the Realm consulting group, which has worked with several nuns’ orders, said the Roman Catholic model of caring for older sisters is “no longer sustainable.” Eggert explained that partnering with outside organizations offering care such as skilled nursing and assisted living is not new for womens’ religious orders but, he said, “We’ve never done Jewish before.”

Share this Story: Share On Facebook Share On Twitter Email This Article

Let your voice be heard!

Join the Algemeiner
  • Iaac Brajtman

    I am general practitioner. In 1980 soon after communing from S.Africa,my partner and I took over a practice run by a Catholic doctor . He introduced us to a nursing home and hostel for nuns,where he had looked after the residents for many years.
    When we started carrying on looking after these patients, one could feel that they weren’t quite sure about the new relationship.Surpringly to some of them we really didn’t have horns.
    I am very pleased to say that over the years (and I still go there regularly) it has become a very pleasant and happy learning experience. Many of the old nuns had probably never been in close contact with a Jew before.
    Now they have learnt a lot about Jewish holidays and customs, and I have learnt about Catholicism.
    Working together and learning and respecting each others views is a great way of developing an understanding of different peoples and their beliefs, and eradicating old misconceptions.
    If only society would learn this

  • Sue Deutsch

    I find some of the comments here horrifying. Shame on those writers! My husband was very ill for several years. He was a patient in several Catholic hospitals. Kosher food was provided for him and anyone else who wanted it. The care was excellent. For many years there was a quota on Jews in many of the universities in this country. Catholic colleges were often more open in accepting Jewish students. My uncle and many of his friends attended Medical school at Marquette, a Jesuit university in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Yes, the church did have a bad record in the past, but this does not mean that all Catholics today are anti-Semites. And I am shocked that some of the people posting here would write such ugly things. The nursing home is to be commended for caring for the nuns instead of vilified.

  • SARA RIFKA

    FOR ME ‘ LET THEM LIVE IN THE STREET’…….FOR THE HORROR THEY CAUSED AND THE HORROR STILL WORKED ON THESE WOMEN SHOULD BE SENT TO ROME….LET THE POPE TAKE CARE OF THEM

    AND, IF ONE JEW IS TURNED DOWN BECAUSE OF THESE WHIPPING ANTI SEMITIC NUNS ARE SNUGGLED WITH KINDNESS…..INTO A ROOM THAT IS ‘NOW OCCUPIED’…..THATS ANOTHER STORY.

    THANK YOU WORLD FOR MY THOUGHTS…….AND, NO I DON’T CARE ABOUT ANYONE OR ANYTHING UNLESS ITS ‘JEWISH’……

    WE MUST BE AMAZING PEOPLE TO GET SLAPPED ALL THE WAY TO THE 21 CENTURY WITH HATEFUL AND MURDEROUS LORE AND WE
    FEED THESE EVIL PIECES OF ‘CRAP’

    ONLY IN NEW YORK.

  • The Watchman

    Imagine if it were the other way around or if the only refuge was from the “religion of peace”…… Fat chance. I can imagine the nuns’ reticence, having been fed a lifetime of Jew hatred, suspicion and bile from the Pope downwards. Will they now see the truth, or, as I suspect, always, bite the hands that feed them. Jewish charity extends to all, Christian charity is decidedly selective and you only have to see the almost total non-response to disasters to see that Muslim charity is, how should I put it….. Errrrrr…. Patchy.

  • Lynne Amicon

    I think this is wonderful! I am Roman Catholic and we have some Jewish friends with whom we’ve become extremely close – like brother and sister. I’m still surprised when Carol and Philip say that they can’t believe we are such good friends since we are Catholic – to me it does not make any difference that they are Jewish- After all Catholicism stemmed from Judaism! It is wonderful that the nuns have been made to feel at home, and feel that they have a home! This world would be so much better off if there were more acceptance of others differences such as these people have displayed!

  • art frank

    I hope they are not taking space that should go to Jews. The rich catholic church organization can’t take care of their own?

  • SB

    Great news — these lovely ladies are in good hands now: the original Respect Life-ers!

Algemeiner.com