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Celebrating the past, planning for the future

St. Benedict’s Senior Community to announce resort-style senior living is coming to St. Cloud

 For 35 years, the actions and beliefs of St. Benedict’s Senior Community have been rooted in the mission, “Let all be treated as Christ.”

“It has been the hallmark of what we do,” said Robin Theis, administrator of Housing and Community Services at St. Benedict’s Senior Community.

The tradition of excellent senior care in the St. Cloud area actually started more than 100 years ago with the ministry of Benedictine Sisters. That tradition and mission has been carried on by St. Benedict’s Senior Community, which is known as a leader in healthcare and senior housing in central Minnesota.

“We are looked upon as a trendsetter, and we have to meet that challenge while staying rooted in our strong tradition and mission,” said Linda Doerr, executive director of St. Benedict’s.

When the founders of St. Benedict’s, the Sisters of the Order of St. Benedict, opened St. Joseph’s Home more than a century ago, it was the first nursing home operated by the Sisters in the area. It was established as a division of the St. Cloud Hospital and has always remained a part of the hospital, which is part of CentraCare Health.

In the mid-1970s, hospital officials decided to build St. Benedict’s Center just down the hill from St. Joseph’s Home. Residents from St. Joseph’s moved into the new facility on a nice fall day in November of 1978.

“The first residents actually came walking down the hill to St. Benedict’s Center,” said Theis. The residents were welcomed by Father Berthold Richter, who had moved in the night before.

When the doors opened, St. Benedict’s Center was a 222-bed long-term care facility. During the past 35 years, much growth and change has taken place on the campus. One change was the name, which is now St. Benedict’s Senior Community.

“The name was changed to encompass all of what we do, a full continuum of care, ranging from skilled care through senior apartments,” said Theis.

This year, St. Benedict’s celebrates 35 years of growth. Many of the changes made since 1978 were made to adapt to the needs and wishes of the residents, according to Theis.

“More and more residents started asking to be cared for in a residential, home-like setting,” said Theis. “Housing sprung from that.”

St. Benedict’s Senior Community now has 388 apartment homes in different housing options across the continuum. These housing options include Benedict Village, with 95 retirement apartment homes; Benedict Court, with 39 assisted living apartment homes; Benedict Home, with residential living serving 24 individuals with memory loss; and Benet Place and Benet Place South, which offer 79 income-based subsidized apartment homes.

For those in need of 24-hour skilled nursing care, the Gorecki Care Center serves the needs of these residents, with 222 beds, including 44 short-stay beds and a 43-bed unit specializing in Alzheimer’s care.

In addition to the St. Cloud campus, St. Benedict’s Senior Community has also expanded to Monticello, which has 59 retirement apartments, 61 assisted living apartment homes and 30 distinct memory care apartments. Both facilities offer home care services.

“The consumers’ needs, desires and wishes have changed, and we have adapted to that, and at the same time, we have been able to build on our tradition of trust started so many years ago,” said Theis. “Demographics of the seniors are growing and will continue to grow at a significant rate through 2030. In addition to that, it is important to note that the desires and needs of those seniors are changing at an even faster rate. We have a full continuum of care here at St. Benedict’s Senior Community.”

Adapting to the needs of the seniors and providing housing and healthcare services to meet those needs in an ongoing process at St. Benedict’s. And when the seniors speak, they listen.

“People have come forward, and as a result, we have begun to look at a new housing option to serve their needs,” said Theis.

St. Benedict’s Senior Community sent out a survey to 9,000 seniors in a 30-mile market radius to those seniors between the ages of 65 and 79. The survey asked seniors what they would like to see in a retirement community.

“We had a huge response,” said Theis. “More than 1,300 people responded to the survey. From that, we approached a number of people who shared their names and address on the survey to form focus groups. We then vetted out the information even further and looked at design and other areas of need.”

From these surveys and focus groups, a plan was formed, and a decision was made to move forward on a new project.

“We are going to be building 100 new apartment homes, which will be amenity-rich, similar to a resort lifestyle,” said Theis. “It will be hospitality focused, which is a value of St. Benedict’s.”

The new community will have many indoor and outdoor functions, some of which may include a theater, a media center, a club bar lounge, a restaurant, a deli, a store, an art studio, a spa, a performance and stage area and a wellness center that will focus on all aspects of wellness.

“We are very excited about this new opportunity,” said Theis. “It will have everything they need under one roof. We recognize that seniors are vital and active, and they want to be involved in a lot of different ways. And we are going to make sure it has much to offer. And we will also have home care for those who need it.”

“This unique community is new to the area,” said Jennifer Vogel, director of Marketing and Communications at St. Benedict’s Senior Community. “It hasn’t been seen before in this part of the state, and we are excited about bringing it here.”

St. Benedict’s is currently looking for the perfect spot to build this new senior community.

“We are hoping to break ground in the summer of 2014, and it should take about a year to build,” said Theis. “This project is about reimagining what the future will look like in the next 35 years and what seniors are going to want. We are going to continue to have that agility to innovate to meet those demands. It was really clear in the focus groups that seniors are looking to St. Benedict’s Senior Community to be able to provide this for them,” said Theis.

On Nov. 14, from 3-5 p.m., St. Benedict’s Senior Community will host an open house to celebrate its 35th anniversary at its St. Cloud location. The celebration will be held in the newly remodeled Bonn Great Room (formerly Woodland Hall). Music will be provided by Andrew Walesch. Refreshments will be served, tours will be offered, and there will be giveaways for the guests.

“We are excited to open up our doors to the community and have everyone come in and celebrate with us,” said Theis. “They will also be able to see the unveiling of the new senior lifestyle community and visit with our staff.”

To learn more about the services at St. Benedict’s Senior Community, stop by the open house, visit their website (, stop by the campus (1810 Minnesota Boulevard SE in St. Cloud and 1301 East 7th Street in Monticello) or call at 320-230-2747 in St. Cloud or 763-295-4051 in Monticello.

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