Foundation provides new home for Sisters of the Good Shepherd

MARLBOROUGH -- On Oct. 1 the Sisters of the Good Shepherd will have a new home for their 12 sisters in Marlborough.

Cummings Foundation Inc., a charitable foundation funded by Joyce and Bill Cummings of Winchester since 1986, is in the process of building the 12,000-square-foot site costing $870,000 at 406 Hemenway Street, across from St. Matthias Church.

"We are deeply grateful to Mr. Cummings for all that he has done for us, for all that he is going to do for us. It certainly makes our life not only pleasant but comfortable, safe and prayerful," Sister Jane Amirault, a 72-year-old resident, said.

The building will be connected to the New Horizons assisted living facilities on the same property. The new convent will include a sewing room and parlor, granite finishes, energy-efficient construction, and an elevated, indoor bridge to connect the Sisters with the services offered in the main building.

The sisters have lived on the property since 1993 and currently pay for meals, but do not pay rent.

"It certainly is a good price and it is good food," Sister Jane said.

The sisters on the property help the independent and assisted living communities offer residents daily Catholic Mass in Cardinal Cushing Chapel. The chapel is located directly between the new convent and the main building of New Horizons' assisted living quarters.

The sisters came to the archdiocese in 1867. For nearly a century, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd ran the House of the Good Shepherd on Mission Hill in Boston. The sisters moved their school to Marlborough in 1964, where they provided a therapeutic residential program for girls until 1985.

"We then went into other kinds of ministries such as small community based programs," Sister Jane said.

The programs included working with girls, women and families in Quincy and Waltham, before the sisters moved to their current home in Marlborough.

Though the role of the sisters is now a ministry of prayer amongst the residents at the facility, Sister Jane said she and the other sisters still feel inspired by the legacy of their foundress, St. Mary Euphrasia Pelletier.

"Her watch-word, her legacy, if you will, to us was 'a person is of more value than a world' and we have always lived out of that saying, shall I say. So that no matter where we encounter people -- whether it is in active ministry, in a social situation, so also in this situation -- a person is of more value than a world," Sister Jane said.

This year, Cummings Foundation is among the larger donors in direct financial grants to other Catholic entities within the archdiocese. In addition to building the convent, the Woburn-based foundation has formally made grants of $100,000 each to both Catholic Charities and Catholic Charities-North, as well as to Emmanuel College, Catholic Schools Foundation, and Nativity Preparatory School in Jamaica Plain.

Kathy Chinappi, RN, the lay administrator for the convent for the last 10 years, noted, "The relationship with Cummings Foundation has always been wonderful. New Horizons truly is home for the sisters."