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Respond! converts seminary into housing for elderly

By Sean Ryan - 09 November, 2015

St John's ResA former seminary for the Diocese of Waterford & Lismore has been turned into a new housing project for older people by the Catholic housing agency Respond!

St John’s College near Waterford city, which closed as a seminary in 1999, hosted an open day on Sunday giving the public an insight into the new project.

The development includes 21 new apartments in the college itself, with a 10-bed group home and 36 new one-bed apartments in an adjoining building.

Respond! also plans to open up a number of essential support services within John’s College including a day centre, community education centre, activation room, counselling service and a sensory garden for older people and those with specific needs.

The Franciscan housing agency hopes that the first tenants will be offered their apartments before Christmas.

Respond! have also confirmed that a conference on loneliness and social isolation among older people will take place in the community education centre within the College in partnership with University College Cork.

Fr Patrick Cogan

Fr Patrick Cogan

Speaking to RTE, Respond! founding director Fr Patrick Cogan said, “We are delighted to be reopening the doors of John’s College again.”

He described the redevelopment of St John’s College as “great news for Waterford” and said it would provide “a sustainable community for older people who wish to remain in their own homes for as long as possible”.

According to Fr Cogan, “The extra support services including the day centre, activation room and community education centre will ensure that older people remain active within their own community and this will help to counteract loneliness and social isolation”.

The total project costs of the redevelopment of St John’s College was €12 million.

Approximately €8 million of this was made available in State mortgages to Respond! from Waterford City Council through the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.

The remaining €4 million was provided by Respond! of which some €2.25 million came in a private borrowing initiative from AIB Bank.

Respond! are now in the process of raising funds to kit out essential services such as the day centre, community education centre and the activation room.

According to Philip O’Reilly of Respond!, over the next number of months, Respond! will be organising a number of key events to raise vital funds to equip the key support services within John’s College for the benefit of the whole community.

“We will be running a dog race night in Kilcohan Greyhound Park on Saturday 5 December and we would appeal to the people of Waterford to support this event and other upcoming events if possible.”

Respond! was founded in Waterford in 1981 by the Franciscan Order.

To date, Respond! has provided some 5,500 dwelling units for families, homeless and disabled persons, older persons and those in need, right across the country.

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