Franciscan Sisters Build ‘Green’ in Denver

Rebecca Doel Franciscan World

DENVER — When it came time to replace a large, two-story convent on the Marycrest Convent campus here, the Sisters of St. Francis Sacred Heart Province decided to do something environmentally friendly in the spirit of St. Francis.

An article about the new modular-home project — “Denver nuns go green and modular” — appeared in the Aug. 13 issue of The Denver Post.

Sr. Sue Artone-Fricke, chief financial officer of the sisters, told reporter Margaret Jackson, “Some sisters were having a hard time doing stairs, so instead of converting it to something that would work for a short period of time that would have no resale value, we decided to do something green.” She added, “Our heritage as Franciscan sisters is that we take responsibility for the Earth and see all creation as our sisters and brothers and treat all with gentle courtesy.”

The project is being developed by Susan Powers’ firm Urban Ventures. The company will also develop 17 acres bought from the sisters into 270 residences as well as retail and office space.

The buildings will have red metal roofs, reminiscent of the existing convent’s roof, complete with solar panels, and the siding will be painted earth colors — “the hues taken from their gardens,” according to architect Michelle Kaufmann.

The sisters plan to use some of the homes as low-income and affordable housing, according to a press release on their Web site. They are currently negotiating with Mercy Housing, a faith-based non-profit corporation, to develop the campus.

Mercy Housing’s Melinda Pollack said, “We are honored to have the opportunity to redevelop the Marycrest campus with a plan that reflects the Sisters of St. Francis’ and Mercy Housing’s common mission and values. We’re confident that the result of this effort will be a beautiful campus that meets community needs.”

Over the years, the campus has housed a girls’ high school, transitional housing for women and children, and a food and clothing bank. Assisted living for senior citizens and younger disabled and dependent adults also operates on the campus.

Rebecca Doel is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.