Nun shortage forces sisters to leave care home

FALLING numbers of women deciding to become nuns have led to an order deciding to leave a Scottish city - where they run a care home - after more than 150 years.

A nun from the order of the Little Sisters of the Poor checks on residents. Picture: Jane Emsley

The Little Sisters of the Poor have been in Dundee since 1863 but yesterday they decided they could no longer continue their mission of caring for the city’s elderly, partly because of their own advanced years.

The sisters run the Wellburn Care Home and hope to secure a new operator to take over its operation.

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They are currently in negotiations with various interested parties.

If an alternative operator for the home is not found by the beginning of 2015, the residents will be rehoused.

The Little Sisters of the Poor order has seen its numbers halve worldwide from 4,000 to 2,000 in the past ten years.

There are fewer than ten nuns remaining in Dundee, of which only two are under 70 years of age.

Provincial of the order, Sister Joseph, said: “It is with great sadness and regret that the Little Sisters of the Poor have decided that they will be leaving Dundee in 2015.

“This has been a very painful decision for us but, due to a decrease in the number of vocations to the congregation and the age of the sisters, they now feel that they are unable to continue their mission here.

“The Little Sisters have been in Dundee since 1863 and last year celebrated 150 years of service to the elderly in the city, in the footsteps of their foundress Saint Jeanne Jugan.

“The sisters are immensely grateful for the support they have been given by the people of Dundee, Bishop Emeritus Vincent Logan, Bishop Stephen Robson, the priests and religious in the diocese of Dunkeld and by the city council, and they are thankful to God for all that they received from their benefactors and friends.”

Bishop Robson said: “While I am saddened by this decision, I understand completely the ­challenges which the Sisters face and sympathise with the circumstances they find themselves in.

“I have always had and continue to have the highest regard for the Little Sisters of the Poor and the work that they do.

“They have made an immeasurable contribution to the life of the city of Dundee over the past 150 years.

“I share their hope that the Wellburn Care Home will continue to provide much-needed care to some of the most vulnerable elderly people in our community.”