After 147 years of presence, the Little Sisters of the Poor leave Auch and sell their retirement home

Home After 147 years of presence, the Little Sisters of the Poor leave Auch and sell their retirement home
Written by Doug Hampton

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It had been in effect since the spring of 2022. The nuns who manage the Ma Maison nursing home are leaving the city. A buyer has been appointed by the sisters, it is Adef residences, an association which already manages 41 Ehpad on the territory.

It’s a 147-year-old story that is coming to an end. The Little Sisters of the Poor leave Auch. The first sisters had settled here in 1876, and created the “Ma Maison” retirement home. Since then, they are hundreds to have succeeded to welcome residents. With the credo of opening doors to elderly people with modest resources, regardless of origin or religious affiliation. Thousands of seniors from the Gers, as well as their families, have rubbed shoulders with the sisters during these 147 years of existence.

But for several years, their presence was questioned. And in the spring of 2022, the official departure announcement was made. After a long selection process, a buyer was found. This is Adef residences, a non-profit association which already manages 41 Ehpad on the territory.

A handful of remaining sisters

It is with regret that the religious congregation made this decision. But it became absolutely inevitable, confides the Provincial Mother Anne Marie James, responsible for the province of Montpellier on which Ma Maison d’Auch depends.

“The only reason is the lack of vocation for a number of years. We are currently opening homes in India, the Phillipines, and Peru. But in France it is the opposite. Our choice is to remain in charge of our establishments. For this, we are led to regroup our forces and therefore to close houses”.

There are still 35 retirement homes managed by the congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor in France today, when there were still around a hundred in the early 1980s. In Auch, there are no more than 5 sisters in the corridors of the Ehpad, far from the community life to which they were accustomed.

“It’s very difficult for us to leave. And of course there was concern from residents, families, but also from staff and volunteers. A change of direction, for everyone, is never easy. But we have chosen a buyer who corresponds to our values, and who has already come to meet them (read above). Everyone is confident,” says Sister Anne-Cécile, the provincial councillor.

Yesterday, a big reception was organized in the park of the retirement home, where “friends, benefactors, families, volunteers etc. All those who have helped us in recent years, in order to express our deep gratitude to them”, explains Mother Anne Marie James.

Name change

“Of course it is painful, and such a change may be more difficult for some than for others. But the announcement was made a long time ago, and everything is being done to ensure that the transition goes as smoothly as possible, ”shares Lisette Huguet, a hyperactive volunteer for 11 years in the establishment.

With this change of direction, the Ehpad, which leaves the bosom of the religious congregation, will also have to be renamed. “We have given residents, families, external contributors, etc. the opportunity. the possibility of proposing a name. We then let the residents alone vote. They chose La Maison des rosiers de Jeanne, in reference to Saint Jeanne Jugan, the founder of the Little Sisters of the Poor,” says Sarah Imaaingfen, the current director. A tribute and a way to keep the spirit of the sisters a little longer within the walls of the retirement home.

A “serious” buyer

As soon as the sale of the Ehpad was announced, many players in the sector came forward to take over the establishment. The selection was meticulous, describe the leaders of the religious congregation. “As soon as the call for tenders was submitted, we had many files. We have selected fifteen. Then a second selection was made, to retain only six. The latter had to file a takeover project. What has been looked at is the establishment and life project. It was essential for us to find in the project the values ​​of the Little Sisters of the Poor, namely the reception of modest people. Of course, it was also necessary to ensure the maintenance of the spiritual life, whatever it was, and to keep all the personnel. Finally, it was also necessary to ensure that the current rate would be maintained for residents,” explains Mother Ann Marie James. Now, it remains for the Department and the ARS (regional health agency) to validate this choice, within a few weeks.

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