$15,000 will help replace aging windows

May 12, 2009 by

The process of making the historic Motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph more energy efficient will get a helping hand from a $15,000 grant just received by the Concordia religious order.

The money from the Washington, D.C.-based Support Our Aging Religious will pay for 47 replacement windows at the 107-year-old building in Concordia. The windows to be replaced this summer are on the north, or front, side of the Motherhouse, which has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1973.

Facilities administrator Greg Gallagher said the order has been upgrading windows on the building for some time, and has generally budgeted around $3,000 a year for the improvements. In 2008, for example, Gallagher’s staff replaced 13 windows at a cost of $3,400.

But with literally hundreds of windows on the five story red-brick building, plus its two-story tower and the Stafford Hall addition and a second annex that both extend to the south, the process is expected to take several more years to complete.

The replacement windows will be made of energy-efficient, double-pane glass and will match the appearance of the old windows. As part of the installation, the frames around the windows will be insulated and sealed, further improving energy efficiency, Gallagher said.

The grant was one of 58 totaling $1 million that SOAR awarded this spring. The grants, which range from $2,000 to $25,000, are awarded to religious congregations across the country to help them with essentially life and safety issues in the care of elderly and infirm members of religious orders. In addition to building upgrades like energy-efficient window replacements, grants in 2009 will help orders pay for fire alarms, water treatment and security systems, as well as renovations for handicap accessibility.

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia has about 160 members. Some 40 of those sisters live at the Motherhouse, while another 40 or so live and work in the city of Concordia. The remaining sisters serve missions in more than 20 cities and towns in Kansas, plus others in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico and Texas. The Sisters of St. Joseph have also supported a mission in Brazil for more than 40 years.

Throughout the United States, there are about 400 Roman Catholic women’s religious orders with nearly 60,000 vowed sisters. There are far fewer religious orders of men in the United States, but bishops, priests and vowed brothers number about 47,000.

SOAR estmates that of those, about 1,900 are elderly or infirm. Since its founding in 1986, SOAR has awarded more than 900 grants totaling $10 million to congregations in 43 states and Puerto Rico. Its funds come from donations and appeals for help across the country. SOAR has a web site at http://www.soar-usa.org.

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