Mount Mary University
Press Release

Intergenerational housing planned for Mount Mary campus

Students who are single mothers and their children to live alongside retired sisters, seniors

By - Dec 4th, 2019 01:59 pm
Mount Mary Intergenerational Housing Site Plan. Image from Mount Mary University.

Mount Mary Intergenerational Housing Site Plan. Image from Mount Mary University.

MILWAUKEE (Dec. 4, 2019) – Mount Mary University will soon be the site of an intergenerational housing community for retired sisters and seniors, and will provide an educational and supportive housing option for single mothers who are students at Mount Mary.

Groundbreaking for the $45 million project is expected in mid-2020, following and contingent upon City of Milwaukee review and approval as a three-way venture between the School Sisters of Notre Dame Central Pacific Province, Mount Mary University and the Milwaukee Catholic Home. It is expected to be completed by the end of November 2021.

The intent of this community is twofold: To provide a vibrant, intergenerational living environment for School Sisters of Notre Dame and seniors, and to provide an educational and supportive housing option for single mothers who are students at Mount Mary.

“We look forward to partnering with our sponsored ministry, Mount Mary University, and the Milwaukee Catholic Home to provide a unique space that offers us the ability to live out our SSND mission and charism, with a focus on education, spirituality and interculturality,” said Sister Debra Sciano, provincial leader for the School Sisters of Notre Dame Central Pacific Province.

The proposed site will be located on the north side of campus, west of the wooded area along Burleigh Street. The proposed layout also includes an entrance to the complex from Burleigh Street. It will accommodate the spectrum of care needs for the School Sisters of Notre Dame, who will be moving to campus from their longtime home in Elm Grove. The housing community will include the following living spaces:

  • 52 assisted living units for the School Sisters of Notre Dame
  • 24 dormitory units for single mothers enrolled as students at Mount Mary University and their young children
  • 90 independent living apartments for individuals over age 62

Other features for this development include an early childhood education center for children from the campus and families in the surrounding area, and a town center with amenities for the sisters and other residents including a bistro, health clinic, salon, community room and other similar amenities.

The Milwaukee Catholic Home currently manages the care provided to the sisters at Notre Dame of Elm Grove. This more formal partnership at Mount Mary University will expand and honor the legacy and charism of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, said Dave Fulcher, chief executive officer of the Milwaukee Catholic Home.

“We are honored to be part of a process that truly leverages our collective ministries to enhance the experiences of retired sisters, elders and young women and their children being served by this new intergenerational community,” Fulcher said.

While many details have yet to be determined, a key design theme is to create spaces that inspire what Mount Mary President Christine Pharr, Ph.D., calls “intentional and serendipitous interactions” between these different groups in this living space.

“An intergenerational home that will include sisters and students is a wonderful fit for the campus,” Pharr said.

While it is uncommon in this region for a university to include housing options for single mothers, a handful of other colleges across the country offer this type of housing. One of them is the College of St. Mary in Omaha, Nebraska, where Pharr served in multiple leadership roles, including vice president for academic affairs.

“I have participated in a program to provide housing to single mothers and their children and it is one of the most life-changing experiences I have ever witnessed,” she said. “Educating single mothers who often live in poverty breaks that cycle and provides their children with a firsthand experience of the value of education.”

Mount Mary University is an urban Catholic university committed to social justice and the development of the whole person. Founded in 1913 by the School Sisters of Notre Dame, it is the first four-year, degree-granting Catholic institution for women in Wisconsin. Today it serves a diverse population and offers more than 30 undergraduate majors for women and eight graduate programs for women and men.

The School Sisters of Notre Dame are members of an international congregation of women religious which was founded in Bavaria in 1833. The first sisters arrived in North America in 1847. School Sisters of Notre Dame, now living and ministering on five continents, have two provinces in North America. The Milwaukee area is served by the Central Pacific Province.


Milwaukee Catholic Home (MCH) has been serving older adults for over 100 years. The organization was founded in 1913 by a group of women associated with the Marquette Women’s League who recognized the need for compassionate care and residential services for seniors in the Milwaukee area. Today MCH offers a full continuum of care for older adults, including independent living apartments, assisted living, short-term rehabilitation, memory care, and skilled nursing. Additionally, MCH provides operational management services to other non-profit organizations including the School Sisters of Notre Dame in Elm Grove.

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