The Congregation of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate – the order of religious sisters who administer Sacred Heart Home in Hyattsville, Maryland – recently hosted a blessing and ribbon cutting to introduce their new senior care facility to residents, their families, benefactors and others.
Washington Auxiliary Bishop Roy E. Campbell Jr. blessed the newly constructed nursing home, convent and chapel and presided over a ribbon-cutting ceremony that was attended by more than 100 people.
“Everything we do, we do out of love,” said Sister Vacha Kludziak, a member of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate who for more than 20 years has served as administrator of Sacred Heart Home. “We try to see Jesus in everyone we serve. God called us to the Archdiocese of Washington to serve Him through His people, the frail and the vulnerable. We see Christ’s face in the people we serve. There is no way to deny that.”
The new nursing home has one level with a partial lower level. It features four residential wings – each named and decorated for a season of the year. “The four residential neighborhoods symbolize different seasons of life each with its richness, beauty, and meaning,” said Sister Vacha.
Each residential wing has private rooms with private bathrooms and showers, common dining room areas, country kitchens and social activity areas. Laundry facilities, a new state of the art kitchen and other support facilities and offices are located on the partial lower level.
“We have a really beautiful building with a lot of space for our residents to live, dine, rest, enjoy the company of others inside and out, to benefit from therapy services and to pray in our new chapel,” said Sister Mary Imiolek, a member of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate and a registered nurse at the home.
She added that with the upgrades to the new facility she is “looking forward to being able to continue to provide the best care we can to our residents with all our dedicated staff and volunteers.”
The new convent is connected to the nursing home by a breezeway. Nearing completion is a new chapel, which Sister Vacha said “provides an opportunity to our residents, family members, staff and any visitor for spiritual prayer and reflection.”
Construction on the new home, convent and chapel – a $20 million project – began just as the coronavirus pandemic commenced. Work continued through the time of quarantine and is nearly complete. No move-in date has been announced, but the sisters are looking at a move-in before Christmas.
“The Sisters felt the need to modernize so that residents are living in a home, not an institutional facility, and the staff have the tools to care for them,” said Ray Alcaraz, director of mission advancement at Sacred Heart Home. “This is a more modern facility with a courtyard that is set up so residents can access the courtyard, but they won’t be able to walk away. That is especially important for residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia.”
The old facility had a 100-resident capacity, which Sister Mary said was “more like a hospital or medical layout.” The new building accommodates 44 residents, and is “like a residence with a much more homelike feeling.”
“We are looking at a smaller facility because we want to give more attention to our residents,” said Sister Vacha, noting that many of the residents are frail elderly. “We want to let them know that they are not forgotten or a burden.”
The Congregation of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, founded in Poland almost 150 years ago, assumed sponsorship of Sacred Heart Home in 1998 at the invitation of Cardinal James Hickey, then the archbishop of Washington.
The sisters are renowned for the care of the residents of Sacred Heart Home. In 2017, U.S. News and World Report ranked the facility as one of the best places in Maryland for long-term care for the elderly.
“I’m very excited and thankful to God and all the individuals who helped us to bring our dream of a new building to fulfillment,” said Sister Mary.
And, while the project is nearly complete, Alcaraz noted that the sisters are still seeking donations because “funds are needed to pay for the project.” He asked that people visit “www.sacredhearthome.org to see naming opportunities or simply help with a gift.” Persons interested in helping can also call Alcaraz at 301-277-6500.