The School Sisters of Notre Dame Atlantic-Midwest Province has moved forward with plans to close its Wilton location, beginning the process of relocating the community of sisters who resided at the Belden Hill Rd. convent.
The Wilton facility, which was built by the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) in the early 1960s, has served as a residence for retired and semi-retired nuns. According to a press release from SSND province officials, the need for this kind of residential space has decreased over the past several years, and data indicates that the demand will continue to decrease in the future.
The SSND is a worldwide religious organization whose members have devoted themselves to the mission of providing primary, secondary, and post-secondary education. According to the SSND website, members of the order are “teachers, administrators and counselors … librarians, lawyers and accountants … nurses, facilitators and therapists; … ministers, volunteers and women of prayer.”
The School Sisters have arranged to relocate 58 sisters to The Watermark, a continuing care retirement community in Bridgeport. The release notes that The Watermark was selected by an SSND-appointed committee that “spent a considerable period of time evaluating alternate living arrangements for the Sisters in the surrounding area,” and that the new facility “was the community most well-equipped to provide the Sisters with not only beautiful apartment residences but also the common spaces, amenities, and environment to maintain their deep sense of community with one another and their social, physical, intellectual and spiritual well-being.”
Officials of SSND said the decision to move the Sisters was difficult. “While the prospect of a new home is exciting, it comes with a great deal of sadness about leaving what has, for 60 years, been home for our Sisters,” said Sister Charmaine Krohe, provincial leader for the Atlantic-Midwest Province.
Caelie Haines, the communications director for SSND told GOOD Morning Wilton in an email that it is “an emotional time for the sisters.”
Two years ago, the SSND made a similar move by relocating approximately 20 nuns after shuttering the facility’s nursing home where they were receiving more skilled health care. At the time, SSND officials said they were in discussion with developers.
The 38-acre campus features several buildings, including the Villa Notre Dame residence (which also has offices, a chapel, a gym and a commercial kitchen), a Montessori school (which relocated to nearby New Canaan Rd.), and houses.
In 2018, the SSND installed a solar panel system with both ground- and roof-mounted panels.
For now, SSND is focused on the move for the nuns who resided at Villa Notre Dame. Officials say they’ll “turn… attention to the future of the VND site in Wilton” after the relocation is complete, anticipating that an “eventual sale of the site will be pursued over the coming months.”
“The Sisters will work with Wilton town officials and prospective purchasers in an effort to minimize apparent change on the property and to achieve local and neighborhood community-wide objectives,” SSND said in a statement.