For 98-year-old Sister Angela Rooney, it was one of the most jarring moves of her life. She always thought she would live out her days as she had for decades, in a convent under the time-honored Roman Catholic tradition of younger nuns dutifully caring for their older sisters. But with few young women choosing religious life, her church superiors were forced to look elsewhere for care, and in the past year have sent Rooney and dozens of other nuns to Jewish Home Lifecare, a geriatric-care complex in the Bronx founded as a nursing home for elderly Jews. “I wanted my convent, my great big chapel, my Stations of the Cross,” Rooney said. “The very name ‘Jewish Home’ turned me off. … I don’t think anyone came here with a heavier heart than me.” Rooney and 57 other sisters, ages 73 to 98, have since adjusted nicely to their new accommodations and neighbors, becoming an active part of classes and continuing their ministry with good deeds like holding the hands of dying patients on the hospice floor. “This is home now,” said 83-year-old Sister Grace Henke. “When we first came, we were fish out of water.” It’s an unusual situation that reflects a reality of the nation’s Catholic nuns in the 21st century: Fewer young women are devoting their lives to religious orders, and those who are already nuns are aging and facing escalating health care needs.
Aging Catholic nuns find care at a Jewish nursing home
Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 05/24/15
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