Proposed care facility honours nuns

Covenant Health is honoring the nuns who brought Catholic education to Red Deer by naming its new Red Deer continuing care facility — Villa Marie.

Covenant Health is honoring the nuns who brought Catholic education to Red Deer by naming its new Red Deer continuing care facility — Villa Marie.

The Daughters of Wisdom opened St. Joseph’s Convent in Red Deer in 1909 and established Lady of Rosary Hospital in Castor in 1911.

“The name Villa Marie is indeed a fortunate choice for the proposed care facility. The name Marie is used frequently throughout the history of the Daughters of Wisdom,” said Sister Harriet Hermary, 80, when the name was announced at the Sheraton Red Deer Hotel on Friday.

Daughters of Wisdom was founded by St. Louis-Marie de Monfort and Blessed Marie-Louise Trichet in France in 1703. Sister Marie Agathe was the first superior for the Daughters of Wisdom in Alberta.

Marie was also common among sisters who served in the congregation, and honours the Virgin Mary as the Mother of Wisdom.

The name was chosen by Covenant Health after research and community consultation.

“Whether teaching, nursing or social work, the sisters had special concern for the people most vulnerable and we’re hopeful this legacy will live on in this new facility made possible by Covenant Health,” said Hermary who grew up and served in Red Deer and area Catholic schools and parishes.

The new 100-bed Villa Marie, that will allow seniors to age in place without having to move as their care needs increase, will be built in Clearview Ridge on 4.6 acres of land west of 30th Avenue and south of 67th Street, directly south of a proposed commercial centre.

About six weeks ago, Covenant Health and the province announced the Red Deer facility would be one of two demonstration models in Alberta for the new concept in care.

The province contributed about $30 million for construction of the facilities and Covenant Health put in $21 million.

Patrick Dumelie, president and CEO of Covenant Health, said tenders for the Red Deer project are being reviewed and decisions will be made in about a week.

Ground-breaking is expected in April and the facility will open in late 2013 or early 2014.

Red Deer North MLA Mary Anne Jablonski said Villa Marie will research best practices to care for seniors, including day programs and accommodations to keep couples together.

Michael Dawe, the City of Red Deer’s curator of history and provincial Liberal candidate for Red Deer North, said St. Joseph’s Convent had a dormitory for rural children as well as living quarters for the sisters and classrooms.

“They put a real emphasis on teaching music, and art and the finer things in life. For a lot of people, that was their one opportunity,” Dawe said.

The school closed in 1960 and the convent was closed and sold in 2005.

Daughters of Wisdom founded Red Deer Regional Catholic Schools. Last fall 6,550 students were enrolled in the division’s 17 schools.