Marywood announces plans to purchase Holy Family Residence


Photo credit/ Michael Kelley

The Little Sisters of the Poor are leaving the Holy Family Residence after serving elderly in the Scranton area for over 100 years.

Justin Kucharski, Editor-in-Chief

Marywood plans to purchase the Holy Family Residence, according to an announcement on Friday, March 29 by university President Sr. Mary Persico, IHM, Ed.D.

The Holy Family Residence is located in the middle of Marywood’s campus and makes up 10 acres of land that doesn’t belong to the university since it was granted to the Little Sisters of the Poor before Marywood was founded over 100 years ago.

The day prior to the announcement, Persico signed an asset purchase agreement, which means that an agreement has been reached to buy the property, but Marywood is given 180 days to pull out of the deal if they find a reason to do so. Persico said the 180-day time period will allow Marywood to perform due diligence.

Ten months ago, the Little Sisters of the Poor announced they were leaving the property after serving elderly people in the Scranton area since 1908. According to Persico, there was no thought of purchasing the land after the initial announcement was made, but after doing some research, she said she saw an opportunity to become part of a growing trend in higher education.

After the acquisition of the Holy Family Residence property, Marywood will become a university-based retirement community (UBRC). Other Pennsylvania schools who are already part of this trend include Haverford College, Swathmore College, Juniata College, West Chester University, St. Francis University and Pennsylvania State University.

Persico explained there would be a mutual exchange between the university and its students and the people who live in the facilities. Marywood will hire a facility operator, who will either pay rent or enter into a profit sharing arrangement.

If the right operator is selected, Marywood students would have the opportunity to use the space for their clinical rotations free of charge. Internships at the facility may also become available. Regardless of who is hired as operator, the facility will remain Catholic.

Persico said that all of Marywood’s requests will be written into a potential operator’s contract and if they do not agree to them, they will move on and continue searching for one that will agree.

Persico also stated that the people who reside there would be invited to participate in life at Marywood by encouraging them to attend musical events, art exhibits, use the Learning Commons and more. The possibility of moving a clinic into what currently serves as the Sisters’ living quarters has also been discussed.

An operator could also use the 10 acres to expand the facilities to include independent care, personal care, assisted living, skilled care, memory care and hospice care to open up more opportunities for students.

The price of the Holy Family Residence was not revealed due to Marywood signing a non-disclosure agreement, but Persico did say that there was a bank appraisal done and the price is lower than that number. In the event Marywood decides to sell the property in the future, this will allow them to tell buyers the property is worth more than they paid for it.

To pay for the property, the Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary have given Marywood more than half of the cost on a non-interest-bearing loan that doesn’t need to be paid back for three to five years. Marywood has also been given two “significantly large” pledges from unnamed donors, Persico said.

The Little Sisters of the Poor have also requested that Marywood change the name of the Holy Family Residence. A new name has not yet been decided.

Assistant Director of Campus Ministry Sr. John Michele Southwick, IHM believes Marywood is doing the right thing by seizing this opportunity.

“To have those opportunities for students, especially a university that has human services as a major part of their curriculum, …to go over there to do things [and] to actually do them for credit I think it is wonderful,” said Southwick. “I know the care and the facilities are great and I don’t think we could’ve passed up an opportunity like [this].”

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Twitter: @JKucharskiTWW