Update on the Sale of St. Ursula Center
We were disappointed that Seafield backed out of their contract to purchase the St. Ursula Center. We truly believe that Seafield Inpatient Center for women would have been a great neighbor and a much-needed asset and service to Blue Point and the surrounding communities. Not only addressing the severe opioid epidemic in our local communities, it would have kept our beautiful building and grounds intact.
We are sad that some community members are angry with us. It isn’t that we want to sell, but that we must sell. We are a financial self-supporting religious community. We are now 36 sisters, most at retirement age, with a retirement fund that is severely underfunded for the long-term care of our sisters.
St. Ursula Center has been our home for 83 years, as a novitiate, a retreat center, and more recently a retirement home. The decision to sell was not taken lightly and quite frankly was a painful one.
It was not a decision based out of greed as some community members have suggested, but out of need. Comments such as that have been particularly hurtful, as our sisters have dedicated their lives to serving others with little or no compensation.
We embrace the idea of the library coming to the St. Ursula Center, as our primary ministry has been education. We pray that the community embraces this idea as well and that a decision will be made quickly.
If the library is not an option then we pray for the right buyer and a quick and uncomplicated sale.
We are happy to announce we have officially entered into contract with the Seafield Center to purchase the St. Ursula Center.
The current plan for the site will be a 76-bed women’s only inpatient alcohol and drug abuse treatment program licensed by the State of New York Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services. The new facility will focus on the needs of women.
“Knowing the history of the Seafield Center and its core mission, we are happy about entering into this contract as Seafield’s plans for using the St. Ursula Center for women is in keeping with our mission,” Sister Joanne Callahan said. “We believe that the women who come here for rehabilitation will find serenity, peace, and healing–as the Ursuline Sisters have since 1935.”
Over the past few years, over 350 local residents have utilized Seafield, highlighting the need for this service in the local community. We are all aware of the opioid crisis on Long Island. Currently, Seafield has an over two-year waiting list. The new facility will help answer the increased demand for treatment and help many in our community to recover.
These are challenging times for the Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk and we ask for your prayers as we move forward with joy and hope. Over the past few years, the Leadership Teams have worked hard to look at our properties and analyze our resources. The results of this evaluation have led to the difficult decision to sell St. Ursula Center. Although change is never easy, the choice will enable the community to maintain sustainability.
Today we are forty Sisters, the majority of whom have passed the traditional retirement age. These demographics, along with diminishing income and increasing healthcare costs, have required us to take a careful and realistic look at our finances as we prepare for the future. Our focus is to ensure a safe and dignified retirement for all our Sisters now and going forward.
The National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO), an organization created to assist religious institutions with retirement planning, assisted us with a “Retirement Needs Analysis” to measure the funding needs of our community. In 2014, with the help of NRRO and other advisers and consultants, we began the financial analysis and planning, financed through grants from the NRRO. The purpose of the grants was to assist us in finding financial solutions to the large unfunded liability of our retirement fund so we can ensure a dignified retirement for all Sisters. With the 2008 downturn in the economy, our retirement fund was impacted greatly.
The advisers looked at the costs associated with operating the Blue Point property and the costs for the care of our elderly Sisters living there. The advisers were clear that we needed to sell the property at Blue Point and re-locate our Sisters to facilities with skilled nursing care and assisted living options that accept Medicaid. A committee of the Sisters visited nursing homes and assisted living facilities on Long Island and presented the plan to the community.
In June 2015 the Sisters agreed that we needed to sell our Blue Point property. The Belgian Province offered to loan money to the U.S. Province to help with cash flow. The community hired Colliers International to oversee the sale of Blue Point and the property went on the market in January 2017.
We are currently addressing housing needs for our Sisters living at St. Ursula Center. Our elderly and infirm sisters will move to Maria Regina Residence in Brentwood. Other Sisters are on a waiting list for an assisted living facility.
While the sale of St. Ursula Center will provide financial relief, the need for funds continues to be critical for the long-term needs of the forty Sisters now and into their retirement. With one Sister who is 100, three in their 90’s, twelve in their 80’s, 15 in their 70’s, 8 in their 60’s and 1 in her 40’s, there are a few Sisters working full-time and some working part-time. Therefore, your financial support is greatly appreciated and needed.