posted April, 15 2009

The following is taken from an Article by Jay Tokasz from The Buffalo News on Sunday, November 2, 2008

Felician sisters aren't getting younger, and their membership isn't growing. But they do have an eye on the future - even one in which they might not be around. The Catholic congregation of nuns is spending $15 million transforming the 1929 provincial house in Cheektowaga into a state-of-the-art "green" facility that will include offices, an infirmary and independent living units under the same roof. The environmentally-friendly renovation features an advanced geothermal system that uses water from 400 feet below ground to heat and cool about 195,000 square feet on six floors. The new building will allow the aging sisters to care for themselves for years to come, but also was designed to be easily converted into senior housing or a nursing home for the general population if there are no longer enough sisters left. The sisters view the renovation as a continuation of their long legacy of service in Western New York. With the overhaul of the main building, the sprawling property at

Doat Street and Pine Ridge Road will remain a stabilizing force in a neighborhood of older housing stock along the border. "It's a real benefit (to the town) for them to put that kind of money in the neighborhood," said Mary Holtz, Cheektowaga town supervisor. "To have that building abandoned would have been awful." "The reality is we could have rebuilt somewhere else far more cheaply," said Sister Francesca Buczkowski, a member of the sisters' building committee. The sisters were being bold environmental stewards by going ahead with the geothermal system, one of the largest in the area, said Michael Modrzynski, president of Allied Mechanical, which did the installation. "The system should save about 30 percent in annual operating costs, compared with a newly installed conventional heating and coling system," he said. "The development community needs pioneers to show what can be done," said Modrzynski. The Felicians are a 153-year old order of nuns founded in Poland upon principles developed by St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and the environment in the Catholic Church. The sisters will embark on a $5 million campaign to raise additional funds for the project. They also hope to find another use for the Villa Maria Academy building.