By Therese Fink Meyerhoff
Aug. 2, 2022 – Jesuit Hall, a 100-year-old former hotel near the campus of Saint Louis University, will soon be replaced by two new Jesuit communities, one for senior Jesuits and one for Jesuits missioned to the university.
When the Jesuits took up residence in Jesuit Hall in 1973, the 14-story building was the Jesuit Community at Saint Louis University. Over the years, the composition of the community has changed to include fewer professors and administrators and more retired and semi-retired men. Since 1990, an infirmary has been located in Jesuit Hall, with the province providing around-the-clock nursing care for a relatively small number of men.
Today, Jesuit Hall is too large for the number of Jesuits who live there and requires renovations that would cost millions of dollars. It simply no longer meets the needs of the Jesuits in St. Louis.
With these issues in mind, former provincial Fr. Ronald Mercier, SJ, approved a plan in 2020 to create two new communities from the Jesuit Hall community. It was also decided to follow a new model of community living and care for senior Jesuits, one that utilizes the experience and skill of a proven healthcare provider. After an exhaustive search, the province formed a partnership with Delmar Gardens, a St. Louis-based healthcare provider with an excellent reputation and a corporate commitment to providing compassionate care for the elderly.
“With the number of older Jesuits in our province, we need to be especially attentive to how we are providing senior care,” said Fr. Provincial Tom Greene, SJ. “Moving into a place that was actually designed for assisted living, then remodeling it to suit religious community living, makes it even better for our men.”
Delmar Gardens is renovating one section of their existing retirement community in North St. Louis County and adding on to meet the specific needs of the Jesuits, including a special program and secure area for Jesuits with memory challenges. The state-of-the-art residence will have a “stand-alone” feel with a distinct entrance to the Jesuit community so that residents and visitors alike have a sense that they are entering a community that is distinctly Jesuit.
With supportive community living and warm hospitality in mind, the new construction will include a large community chapel as well as several smaller chapels; a dining room that can accommodate both daily community meals and special events; a large rec room, a lounge, a library with computer lab, a fitness and wellness center and a hobby room. A wide range of healthcare professionals will be available on site.
“I’m happy to see our elder brothers move into a space more conducive to their needs,” Fr. Greene said. “In addition to ensuring the wellbeing of the Jesuits who have medical requirements, by living in a community surrounded by other seniors, they’ll have pastoral opportunities, helping to meet their social and ministerial desires as well.”
Senior Jesuits are expected to move in before Advent.
For information on donating to the Garden Villas North community for senior Jesuits, contact Paula Parrish, chief advancement officer, at UCSAdvancement@Jesuits.org.
SLU Jesuit Community
Saint Louis University is building the new Jesuit Center at Saint Louis University. The new community will be located on SLU’s campus and will house the Jesuits missioned to the university. The residence will have 20 bedrooms for Jesuits and five for guests. Because it is intended to function as an apostolic center, it will also feature a chapel large enough for public services and meeting rooms where Jesuits can gather with students, faculty, staff and others.
“It’s the beginning of a new era for the Jesuits at Saint Louis University,” Fr. Greene said. “SLU has the largest number of tenure-track Jesuits of any
Jesuit university in the country, and they cover a range of academic disciplines. I’m looking forward to seeing how they form an apostolic team. The Jesuit presence at SLU is strong and will be for years to come.”
The project broke ground in early April 2021 and is expected to be complete before the end of this year.
To contribute to the Jesuit Center at Saint Louis University, contact Sheila Manion at Sheila.Manion@slu.edu or 314-977-2306.