Although the New Horizons at Marlborough retirement community is secular, it has always been home to many Catholic seniors. Older adults who want to actively practice their faith are drawn to the Boston MetroWest senior living community’s on-site chapel, regular religious services, church-related volunteer opportunities, and Catholic history.
Adding to the Catholic community is a group of the Sisters of St. Anne, who moved to New Horizons several years ago.
The sisters volunteer in a variety of ways on the sprawling wooded campus to help residents feel more connected with their faith. One of the group of 22 oversees the activities of the chapel, working closely with residents who want to play a role in the daily Catholic Mass.
There are myriad volunteer opportunities for residents, including helping to set up for services and serving as Eucharistic ministers, ushers, lectors, and sacristans. Outside the service, some help with rebuilding the chapel’s carillon and organizing music.
While it is convenient for many seniors in the independent living and assisted living programs to go to the chapel, it is more challenging for those in the memory care program. For these residents with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, the sisters gladly make “house calls” to help them stay connected to the church through prayer or quiet companionship.
As Sister Paulette Gardner put it, “We don’t retire. We just continue our ministry of prayer, presence, and service.”
Sometimes residents just want someone to listen to them, and the sisters are there to help in this way. Talking to one of the sisters may help residents to remember their faith and appreciate what they have in the stage of life they’re in. The sisters serve as someone to confide in about aging, life, or other topics.
Some sisters continue to apply expertise from previous careers, such as nursing and massage therapy. One spent all her ministry years in hospice care and now provides this important service when needed at New Horizons.
Before it was New Horizons, the campus was home to Madonna Hall School for Girls, which ran for 30 years under the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, a different Catholic order. The remaining sisters from this group were invited to stay on campus after Cummings Foundation purchased the property back in 1994.
With the number of Sisters of the Good Shepherd naturally dwindling over the years, the New Horizons community was delighted when the Sisters of St. Anne arrived to take on a leadership role within the campus’ Catholic population.
The Sisters of St. Anne hope to continue to provide a link to Catholic faith and a source of companionship to the residents. Before their arrival, they lived separately, which was isolating for some of them as they aged.
“New Horizons has given us a place to age in place together, which has been a welcome opportunity,” said Sister Paulette. “We can continue to be who we are as vowed religious women and simply enjoy all that this community has to offer.”
Although the sisters bring a large presence, they’re just a small group compared to the roughly 400 people who live at this senior community in Marlborough, MA. Owned by Cummings Foundation, one of the largest private philanthropic endeavors in the region, the community operates as a stable nonprofit.
Residents enjoy a “rate lock” for at least the first six years they live there, ensuring that their room and board fees will not increase during that time.
Prospective residents and their families are encouraged to contact New Horizons at 508-460-5200 to arrange a time to tour the campus, meet current residents and staff, and sample a home-cooked meal. More information is available at CountryCommunities.com.