What if living on a college campus was the perfect place to spend the golden years? Increasingly, universities, such as Mount Mary, are exploring the idea.

Thanks to a partnership between the School Sisters of Notre Dame, Mount Mary University and the Milwaukee Catholic Home, seniors, nuns and college students will reside together on the campus of Mount Mary University.

Trinity Woods is an intergenerational housing project that will feature 52 assisted living apartments for members of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, 24 dormitory units for single mothers enrolled as undergraduate students at Mount Mary University and their young children under the age of 12, as well as 90 market-rate, independent-living apartments for individuals over age 62.

Groundbreaking began Sept. 3 on the $45 million project with an anticipated grand opening in the fall of 2021.

The name “Trinity” was chosen to represent the Catholic/Christian faith and the three partners in the community. “Woods” reflects growth, wisdom and the beautiful, wooded grounds, including the 10-acre forested area adjacent to the site. This high-quality, second-growth southern mesic forest is rare in Milwaukee County and is a treasured community resource.

According to Dave Fulcher, CEO of Milwaukee Catholic Home, the name and logo for Trinity Woods are the perfect embodiment of the good work happening to make the innovative housing development a reality.

“We are beyond pleased to participate in this first-of-its-kind venture in Milwaukee, which offers so much promise for residents and the greater community,” he said.

Constructing this intergenerational housing campus will meet the needs of many in the community, especially the School Sisters, as the buildings in their Elm Grove Campus were aged and did not adequately meet the challenging needs of the over 100 sisters in residence.

“The need for a safe and inviting home where the sisters could continue to minister to others were key considerations in locating the new community at Mount Mary University,” Fulcher said. “The sisters’ ministry and passion for education made it a natural extension to create an intergenerational community that brings vibrancy, collective wisdom, care and concern for each other into a community that shares common experiences from education, cinema, common dining venues, Life Engagement programming and Wellness.”

Though the living residences are separated by floors for privacy, Fulcher added that the common experiences of the campus are shared together, creating spontaneous moments of laughter and community building where one’s authentic service to others can be lived out.

Some of the amenities offered within the Trinity Woods campus include:

  • Full-service dining experiences and Bistro;
  • Organic produce provided by Milwaukee Catholic Home’s Clare Gardens;
  • Club lounge;
  • Library and media center;
  • Market and gift shop;
  • Fitness Center with regularly scheduled classes;
  • Art Studio;
  • Salon and spa;
  • Spacious outdoor decks with views of the Menomonee River Parkway and Bluemound Country Club;
  • Private courtyards with gardens and patios that overlook the Mount Mary University woods and open green spaces;
  • Dedicated Chapel with weekly Mass and Pastoral Care services;
  • Outdoor walking paths;
  • Education center and cinema;
  • Access to learning opportunities hosted by Mount Mary University;
  • Meaningful volunteer opportunities;
  • Onsite early childhood development center; and
  • Intergenerational community engagement.

Public interest for Trinity Woods is high and many individuals are already included on an interest list. Additionally, a number of apartments homes are earmarked for the retired School Sisters of Notre Dame.

The idea for Trinity Woods came about after the Notre Dame of Elm Grove Campus Task Force (NDEG) formed in May 2017, in a response to the directive of the Integrated Planning Process Steering Committee and leadership for the Central Pacific Province of the School Sisters of Notre Dame.

According to Debra M. Sciano, SSND, Provincial Leader, School Sisters of Notre Dame Central Pacific Province, the task force, along with three others located at different SSND campuses around the Province, was charged with two important responsibilities.

“To move forward (with) the divestment of the NDEG property and provide for the health care and other needs of our retired Sisters within a community setting. The task force then investigated potential developers for the NDEG property and possible alternatives to meet the needs of our Sisters,” she said. “One such possibility was to partner with Mount Mary University, a sponsored ministry of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, by building a facility on the MMU campus, which is owned by SSND, to create a place to live and create community for the retired Sisters, as well as provide housing for students who are single mothers with children.”

A coffee shop conversation between MMU President Dr. Christine Pharr and Sciano birthed the idea for the intergenerational living on the university campus. The task force expounded on the idea and Milwaukee Catholic Home was invited to present a proposal to the group as to how they could provide management for the health care needs of the Sisters as well as manage the new proposed facility.

Sciano added that the relationship between the three organizations is very good, as all three are nonprofit, Catholic and religious-based institutions with similar missions.

“It is interesting to note that MCH and MMU were both founded in the same year over 100 years ago,” she said. “The meetings and plans that have been underway throughout these past two years have only helped bring us closer together and we are all looking forward to the opening of this special, sacred place.”

For more information about Trinity Woods, contact Lori Kennedy at lkennedy@milwaukeecatholichome.org or 414-225-8252.