With heavy hearts, the Little Sisters of the Poor have announced they are to withdraw from their historic Mullen House, in Denver, Colorado. The nuns explained that the decision was made in order to “strengthen their ministry” and to improve the quality of religious life within their community.
According to the joint statement released by the Little Sisters and the Archdiocese of Denver, the Mullen House was constructed in 1917. Funds for the house were donated by Mr. and Mrs. John K. Mullen, for whom the house was named. The site has been the home to dozens of nuns throughout the years, as well as to the elderly poor whom the Little Sisters serve. The Little Sisters have even gone so far as to add to the building, which has allowed for a greater level of care for their charges.
Now the religious community is preparing to leave their 100-year-old home behind. Mother Julie Horseman, provincial superior of the Little Sisters, explained that the decision had been in the works for a while:
“As part of a strategic plan aimed at strengthening our ministry and the quality of our religious and community life, we Little Sisters have recognized the need to withdraw from a certain number of Homes in the United States, while at the same time dedicating our resources to much needed upgrades and reconstruction projects in others.” She added, “many factors have obliged us to move forward with this decision. It has only come after a lengthy period of prayer, much consultation and much study.”
The statement went on to note that the Little Sisters of the Poor will find alternate accommodations for the elderly who are currently living in Mullen House. Once they have all been settled, the property will be passed to the Archdiocese of Denver, as was stipulated by the Mullen family when the house was built.
Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila expressed his gratitude to the Little Sisters of the Poor for their century of dedicated service to the Denver area. He hailed the “love, compassion, and dignity” the nuns brought to their work with the elderly poor.
“Today, as the Little Sisters announce their difficult decision to withdraw from their ministry in Colorado, I want to offer my heartfelt and sincere gratitude for their work … Their compassionate care for the elderly provided a witness to Jesus Christ and his love for the poor and the sick.” Archbishop Aquila added, “On behalf of the bishops who came before me and the Archdiocese of Denver, please know we have been inspired by your witness to live out the call of the Gospel in the 100-plus years you have served here.”
The prelate went on to note that the archdiocese has yet to determine what will be done with the Mullen House. He did note, however, that the Little Sisters of the Poor’s legacy will be honored and the Mullen House will continue to serve the Church’s mission in Colorado.
The withdrawal of the Little Sisters of the Poor from their Denver location has followed a recent trend of religious communities withdrawing from various houses in order to consolidate their numbers. While the Little Sisters of the Poor did not cite dwindling numbers as the cause of their withdrawal, this was the case for the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore, in Ireland, which will lose both its Franciscan and Benedictine monastic communities by 2023.