Respect for life includes quality living and dignified housing for seniors

September 30, 2018
by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

The month of October is officially designated as Respect Life Month. On Respect Life Sunday, Oct. 7, I will be running a marathon in Long Beach, Calif., with the LIFE Runners, a pro-life running organization with 8,500 teammates in all 50 states and 35 nations. LIFE Runners began on Oct. 12, 2008 when 12 teammates raced the Chicago Marathon to raise funds for life-saving ultrasound machines. The LIFE Runners group has grown over the years and has fielded the largest teams for several marathons, most recently with 75 teammates at the 2016 Philadelphia Marathon and 100 teammates last year in Pensacola.

This will be my 24th marathon in 24 years. Fundraising has always been a key element of my marathon running. Since running my first in 1995, I have raised $491,052.64 for various charitable causes. Running for priestly vocations in last year’s marathon netted $28,661.48 to support the cost of seminary education for our 24 seminarians in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. Receiving more than $1,000 a mile in donations really motivates me to keep running!

This year’s marathon should put me over half a million dollars in lifetime marathon fundraising! The charitable cause that I have designated for the 2018 LIFE Runners Marathon is the Divine Mercy Senior Living Community that we are planning to build in Glen Carbon. This community, which will be located on the campus next to Father McGivney Catholic High School, will provide high-quality senior housing with a Catholic expression to people of all faiths.

The Divine Mercy Senior Living Community will be carefully designed to address the needs of seniors both today and in the future. The resulting campus will provide senior living in the form of active living residences in “pocket” neighborhoods, apartments for independent living, assisted living and memory care, all centered around a beautiful chapel. Divine Mercy Senior Living Community will be located adjacent to a quality skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility, Liberty Village. Residents who move to Liberty Village will maintain the connections and relationships they formed at Divine Mercy Senior Living Community. Our on-site chaplain at Divine Mercy Senior Living Community will remain connected to seniors who move to Liberty Village.

The diocese began a partnership in 2015 with Franciscan Ministries, a nonprofit organization that focuses on planning for and operating Catholic senior living communities throughout the United States. For the last three years, Franciscan Ministries has assisted us in developing this project. With the help of Franciscan Ministries, several potential locations were considered for the project. In 2017, a market feasibility study was completed to test the viability of a Catholic senior living community in the Metro-east area of Glen Carbon. The market study demonstrated a need for a Catholic senior community in the Alton deanery. It also showed that this community will be financially viable long-term, indicating that Divine Mercy Senior Living Community will be able to serve seniors for decades to come. It is my hope that this model of a successful Catholic senior living community can be replicated in other parts of our diocese.

The estimated project cost is $35 million. Currently, the financial plan includes a $7 million fundraising goal combined with a loan to fund the total cost. Great momentum exists for this effort with commitments of over $1.5 million already received. To make Divine Mercy Senior Living Community a reality, we must come together as a local church to pray for and support this vision. Donations may be sent to the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, 1615 West Washington St., Springfield, IL 62702.

Donating to the Divine Mercy Senior Living Community would be a great way to encourage me to run 26.2 miles on Oct. 7 and support our pro-life efforts on Respect Life Sunday. The theme for this year’s Respect Life Month is, “Every Life: Cherished, Chosen, Sent.” This life-giving message expresses our profound respect for all human life from conception to the moment of natural death. Your support for the Divine Mercy Senior Living Center will help to provide quality care for our brothers and sisters in the twilight of their lives.

May God give us this grace. Amen.

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