The Ministry of Caring officially opened its new administration headquarters Aug. 9 at a longstanding “center of service” in the city of Wilmington, the former convent of St. Patrick’s Church at 115 East 14th Street.
The 1927 building served as a convent for the parish’s Franciscan sisters, and after the parish school closed, housed St. Patrick Center’s drug rehabilitation center and later provided housing for 17 homeless seniors.
Mark Reardon, a member of the Ministry of Caring’s board, noted the building’s ongoing history as “an oasis of prayer and compassion” in Wilmington.
In 2011, when the convent needed extensive, costly renovations to meet housing code requirements, Father Leonard Klein, the administrator of St. Patrick’s, which owned the building behind the church, approached the Ministry of Caring to see if it would be interested in acquiring the property.
Brother Ronald, Reardon said, saw the offer as “a glowing opportunity” and St. Patrick’s deeded the property to the ministry as “an outright gift.”
Brother Ronald Giannone, the Capuchin Franciscan priest who founded the social services ministry nearly 40 years ago, offered his “heartfelt thanks to the generosity of our benefactors” who contributed to the renovation of the thee-story building.
For the first time in decades, the Ministry of Caring is now able to house its offices that coordinate dozens of programs, such as the Emmanuel Dining Rooms, child care centers, homeless shelters, senior housing, transitional housing, housing for both single women and single men, emergency shelter, residences for people with HIV/AIDS, and an employment agency for the poor.
Brother Ronald dedicated the offices in memory of Mary and James Teoli, who were instrumental in the founding of the ministry. He called James Teoli, my “right hand man and confidante.”
There was nothing the Teolis “found too difficult to do for the ministry,” he said, recalling the couple cooked meals and often provided financial support when it was most needed.
The Teolis’ son and daughter, Jim and Louise, attended the ceremony and helped unveil a model of the donors’ plaque that will be displayed on the building.
“May we be as fruitful as they were in serving the poor,” Brother Ronald said.
Donors to the Ministry of Caring building included: The Longwood Foundation, Discover Bank, Laffey-McHugh Foundation, Welfare Foundation, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Marmot Foundation, Good Samaritan, Inc., Raskob Foundation, Crestlea Foundation, Delaware Community Foundation, Borkee-Hagley Foundation, M&T Bank Foundation, The Ernext Stemple Foundation, Gannett Foundation and Rocco Abessinio.