August 10, 2022

Little Sisters of the Poor. Courtesy of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. / null

Denver, Colo., Aug 5, 2022 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

After years of service to the elderly in the Archdiocese of Denver, the Little Sisters of the Poor announced this week their intention to withdraw from a nursing home they have operated for more than a century, citing the need to dedicate resources to other projects. 

The Mullen Home complex, located in Denver’s West Highland neighborhood, received its first residents in 1918 after the sisters moved in the year prior. The home includes private rooms for assisted living, apartments for the elderly, a library, and a chapel. It was expanded and renovated between 1975 and 1980. 

The order’s leader in Denver said the decision to close the home had come about following a “lengthy period of prayer, much consultation and much study.”

“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,” Mother Julie Horseman said in an emailed statement Aug. 3. 

“While it is always difficult for the Little Sisters to withdraw from any of our Homes, know that our immediate concern is for our Residents and Staff members. We will be working with all of them in the coming weeks and months, assisting with this difficult transition.”

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According to the Archdiocese of Denver, the land on which the nursing home sits was given to the Little Sisters by John K. Mullen and his wife Catherine in 1917. Mullen was a Denver-based Irish-American entrepreneur and philanthropist who supported many Catholic causes in Denver and elsewhere.

The deed by which Mullen transferred the land to the religious order had a provision whereby the land and buildings would be transferred to the Archdiocese of Denver if the Little Sisters ceased operating the nursing home. The archdiocese is “studying its new purpose with prayerful consideration,” the Little Sisters said. 

“Their intention is to use it to further the mission of the Church and preserve our legacy in the Denver area,” Mother Horseman said. 

The Little Sisters of the Poor began in France in 1839, when the order’s founder, Saint Jeanne Jugan, offered her bed to an elderly woman who was blind and lying paralyzed in the cold. Today, the order serves in 30 countries, with 27 homes in the United States. Because the sisters care for the low-income elderly, they trust in God for financial support. Sources of income such as Medicaid and pensions from the residents generally only cover about half of their expenses, so they beg for the remainder. 

Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver thanked the Little Sisters for their more than 100 years of ministry in the city, adding that the archdiocese is “still in the process of determining the next steps for the property.” 

“I want to offer my heartfelt and sincere gratitude for their work. Whenever I would visit Mullen Home as a priest and later as a bishop, I was always edified by their witness to the Catholic faith and their living out of the corporal works of mercy. Their compassionate care for the elderly provided a witness to Jesus Christ and his love for the poor and the sick,” Aquila said. 

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The nearest Little Sisters-run nursing homes to Denver after the Mullen Home closes will be in Gallup, New Mexico and Kansas City, Missouri. 

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