By Kiply Lukan Yaworski and Sr. Teresita Kambeitz, OSU, with files from Emmanuel Care
[Catholic Saskatoon News] – A celebration was held Jan. 6, 2020 to mark the transfer of ownership of St. Angela Merici Residence care home to Emmanuel Care.
Originally constructed in the Lawson Heights neighbourhood of Saskatoon by the Ursuline Sisters of Prelate for aging members of their community, St. Angela Merici Residence opened its doors to the wider community in December, 2017.
After a discernment process by the Ursulines of Prelate in conjunction with the provincial Catholic health care organization Emmanuel Care, which owns Catholic health care facilities and care homes across the province, ownership was transferred to Emmanuel Care as of October 2019.
“In thanksgiving for the Ursulines of Angela’s convent, who built St. Angela Merici Residence as a place of hospitality for their retired sisters and later as a home of care for their aging and infirmed sisters, and eventually as a licensed personal care home where all who come can experience God’s love and compassion, we pray to the Lord…” – Prayer of intention during celebration of Mass, led by Scott Irwin, Emmanuel Care president and CEO.
The Jan. 6 sponsorship-transfer celebration included celebration of the Eucharist with Archbishop Donald Bolen of Regina, and Bishop Emeritus Gerald Wiesner, OMI, as well as the missioning of the St. Angela Merici Residence board of directors and executive director.
Ray Kolla, Vice-Chair of the St. Angela Merici Residence board of directors, welcomed those assembled for the celebration. “Today we celebrate a special milestone in the life of St. Angela Merici as we have formally joined the Emmanuel Care family. It is our hope that in doing so, the ministry that started with the Ursuline Sisters will continue for years to come.”
In his homily, Archbishop Bolen reflected on the Feast of Epiphany and the quest of the Magi in light of the transfer of the residence to Emmanuel Care.
“We as individuals are called to be faithful in our quest and so also are we as a community. Your Ursuline community is called to ‘Educate for Life,’ bound to each other in compassion and witnessing to the joy of the quest which today is taking us to a new place. Today you are bearing beautiful witness to your faithfulness to God,” he said.
“Emmanuel Care is also on a quest , namely, to bring Christ’s compassion to the sick, the suffering and those in need; to carry forward Jesus’ mission in the world. Now Emmanuel Care is to take on a new role of ownership and responsibility for this beautiful place. It is a meeting of quests that has brought us here.”
The archbishop also reflected on the deeper narrative of God’s quest. “Where we are living, God wants to be with us. Where we find joy, God wants to accompany us. God is taking the sisters with one hand and Emmanuel Care in the other hand, saying ‘Let’s walk together’.”
Bolen concluded: “We hope it will continue to be a place of blessing for all who live here. We have a kind of covenant, a covenant of peace and joy, trusting in God as we continue on our quest.”
“For Emmanuel Care, the Board of Directors of St. Angela Merici Residence, and all who work at St. Angela Merici Residence, that individually and collectively they may embrace their Mission of Compassionate Care and live it each day as they continue the healing ministry of Jesus to all those entrusted to their care, we pray to the Lord.” – Prayer of intention during celebration of Mass, led by Scott Irwin, Emmanuel Care president and CEO.
Emmanuel Care had its beginnings some 30 years ago when the bishops of Saskatchewan created the Catholic Health Council of Saskatchewan to accept transfer of ownership of Catholic health care facilities previously owned and operated by congregations of religious sisters. That original Catholic health organization established by the bishops is now known as Emmanuel Care. In addition to St. Angela Merici Residence, Emmanuel Care is sponsor/owner of various Catholic facilities throughout Saskatchewan, including 12 Catholic hospitals and nursing homes and two seniors independent and assisted living facilities (Trinity Manor at Stonebridge, Saskatoon and Trinity Manor at Westerra, Regina). Emmanuel Care continues to be accountable to the Catholic bishops of Saskatchewan, who are its corporate members.
“We are proud to welcome St. Angela Merici to the Emmanuel Care family,” said Francis Maza, the Emmanuel Care Executive Lead for Mission, Ethics and Spirituality.
The formal transferring ceremony featured Sr. Anne Lewans, OSU, addressing Al Brischuk, chair of Emmanuel Care.
“In Canada, healthcare, education, and social services find its roots in the work of religious women who dedicated their lives to the service of the people in our country,” said Lewans. “The Ursulines of St. Angela’s Convent have served the Lord with humility and joy, planting seeds of hope and care in everyone they serve. Over time these early seedlings grew into well-rooted and established facilities of care.”
St. Angela Merici Residence is a testament to this commitment and dedication, Lewans added, calling for its legacy to be preserved, built upon, and kept in trust for the future by Emmanuel Care. “A new generation of visionary leaders must strive to uphold the Catholic mission and values in carrying out the healing ministry of Christ to all in need. Times have changed, but the gospel values remain constant as our guide to compassionately care for the sick and suffering.”
Brischuk responded on behalf of the Emmanuel Care board of directors and the Catholic bishops of Saskatchewan, accepting the ownership, sponsorship and governance of the residence. “Please be assured that this precious health ministry of leadership and service that we are now inheriting from you will be protected and nurtured with the greatest of care.
History of St. Angela Merici Residence
Notes from the Jan. 6 program booklet:
In The Beginning…
The Ursulines of Prelate built St. Angela Merici Residence as a retirement home for their Sisters. After several years of discernment and planning, lots 8 and 9 of block 914 in the Lawson Heights area were purchased and the ground for the residence was blessed March 2, 1985. Excavation began the next day!
As in all construction projects, there were some revisions and delays along the way, even some changes in management of the construction. In any case, by fall of that same year, the structure was taking shape. The occupancy permit was received on March 1, 1986.
The first sisters moved in on May 20, 1986. By June 29 there were sixteen residents.
The official opening and blessing took place on June 29, 1986 with Bishop James Mahoney presiding. Along with many Ursuline sisters, also present were Bishop Noel Delaquis, (Bishop of Gravelbourg), Fr. Bernard Dunn (pastor of St. Anne’s Parish), Saskatoon Mayor Cliff Wright, architects and construction personnel.
For a number of years after opening, St. Angela Merici Residence housed a Stay and Play Program in an area of the basement. Mothers and their infants and preschoolers gathered three half days a week.
Many other events and activities hosted at the residence include: practices of The Fireside Singers; sessions of Foundations; RCIA groups; conventions of the Ursuline Sisters; annual meeting of bishops and religious superiors; retreats; training sessions in liturgy, canon law and team leadership; visits and entertainment from neighbouring schools.
Daily Eucharistic celebrations have been made possible through the generous service of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Redemptorist fathers and diocesan priests.
St. Angela Merici Residence has always been a center for the Ursulines sisters to gather for their meetings, feast days and other special congregational events. Since the closing of St. Angela’s Convent/Academy in Prelate, SK, the funerals of Ursuline sisters also take place at the residence.
Provision of Care…
When St. Angela Merici Residence opened, a sister was both administrator and care giver to the residents with some assistance from Home Care. Sisters needing 4th level care usually moved to nursing homes in Saskatoon. By the year 2000, care needs increased and so care aids were employed first for the night, then daytime and evening shifts. Since 2003 a doctor has been available for regular visits and emergency consultation.
In 2010-2011 the sisters engaged a professional health care consultant to assess the areas of administration and the coordination of services. Recommendations included some changes in governance and management practices, as well as maintenance and residents’ care. The General Convention of the Ursuline Congregation gave the General Council the responsibility and authority to implement the recommendations as follows: in October, 2011 the Leadership/Administration began to be shared by two people – a lay administrator and a sister coordinator of the sisters’ community; in January 2012 a Registered Nurse was hired as a consultant and support/guide to the Care Aids; in June 2012 the St. Angela Merici Residence Advisory committee was established; in fall 2014 care needs were increasing and so did the number of shifts for care personnel; hospital beds were purchased for some rooms, as was an appropriate lift.
In 2015, the Ursuline congregation engaged in a number of consultations and in-depth discussions about the future of St. Angela Merici Residence. Continuing to staff what had by now become a care home, meant that serious consideration needed to be given to the future management/operation of the residence as well as its viability. At their spring General Convention, the Ursuline sisters expressed their hope that the residence would continue as a care home and that eventually Emmanuel Care would take over management and ownership of the residence. While conversations with Emmanuel Care and Saskatoon Integrated Health Services for the Saskatoon Health Region continued, care needs were increasing at the residence and a Registered Nurse was hired part time.
A decision was made to proceed with the process of obtaining a Personal Care Home license. A corporation was established, a board of directors appointed and the first meeting of St. Angela Merici Residence Inc. was held Sept. 21, 2016.
The business of the corporation took effect Jan. 1, 2017. On Dec. 12, 2017 the Personal Care Home license was obtained!
At the beginning of 2018 efforts were made to invite residents – besides Ursuline Sisters – to fill the empty suites and take advantage of the excellent care being provided at St. Angela Merici Residence. At the end of 2019, the residence had been at near capacity for several months.
The Ursuline Sisters are very pleased to see the fulfillment of their hopes – that St. Angela Merici Residence continue as a care home, that it be owned and operated by Emmanuel Care, and especially that they can continue to have their sisters, and others, call the residence home and receive respectful and compassionate care. – Excerpt from celebration program