Care of the Elderly and Infirm Friars

The Fr. George F. Riley, O.S.A. Fund for Augustinian HealthCare

Care of the Elderly and Infirm Friars

An elderly friar assembling a plate of food in a monastery.
Friars performing mass.
Two elderly friars sitting together.

Thus, let the abiding virtue of charity prevail in all things that minister to the fleeting necessities of life.

Saint Augustine clearly recognized the special needs of those who were ill, impaired or suffering the diminishments that come with age. Saint Thomas of Villanova Monastery, on the campus of Villanova University, provides a caring and comfortable living space where friars are able to retire from active daily ministry and continue living among their brothers. Friars who live in the monastery have devoted their lives to service in Augustinian ministries and missions and are able to participate fully in the community life that is a hallmark of the Augustinian brotherhood.

The operation of the monastery is the responsibility of the Province of Saint Thomas of Villanova and is supported through the Fr. George F. Riley Fund for Augustinian HealthCare. The facility provides the accessibility and amenities required to serve the friars as they age and their needs change. The monastery includes an on-site rehabilitation room, a physician’s exam room, and a nursing station – in essence a residential facility for infirm friars. The spiritual aspect of community life is enhanced by the community chapel, which faces the campus of Villanova University, and where the public may join in worship.

Maintaining the monastery and the friars’ healthcare comes at great cost to the Province. It is through your generosity that the friars receive the medical care they need on a 24/7 basis, while they can continue to share in and benefit from the social and communal aspects of monastery life among their brothers.

“Here I am before you with my firmness and my infirmity. Preserve the first and heal the second.”

St. Thomas of Villanova Monastery in 1930, before the fire.
St. Thomas of Villanova Monastery - before the fire - in 1930
Elderly friar walking outside of St. Thomas of Villanova Monastery in 2017, passing a statue.
St. Thomas of Villanova Monastery - after a 2003 renovation - in 2017

The main purpose for you having come together is to live harmoniously in your house, intent upon God in oneness of mind and heart.

After arriving in Philadelphia in 1796, establishing their first foundation at Saint Augustine Church and considering their future in the United States, the Augustinians clearly saw a need to establish a location to house friars and to welcome future members who answered a call to religious life and Holy Orders.

In 1841, the Rudolph estate twelve miles west of Philadelphia was purchased with a view to create a center for Augustinian life in the United States. This second foundation, housed in the former Rudolph mansion, was key to the future of the Augustinians. The foundation was put under the patronage of St. Thomas of Villanova. 

In 1899, ground was broken for construction of a new monastery building, which was finished and occupied in 1901. In 1932, a fire destroyed the monastery and following the fire the monastery was rebuilt. It had remained continuously occupied, but without major renovation since its initial construction. In 2003, after more than 70 years, St. Thomas of Villanova Monastery was renovated, thanks to the generosity of benefactors who raised $25 million dollars for the project.

The monastery continues to serve as a center of Augustinian life, housing the Augustinian Archives and the Heritage Room as well as serving as the residence for over 60 friars. It is due to the renovation that retired and infirm friars enjoy the benefits of living in an updated facility, which provides an environment for continuing the community living to which the rule of St. Augustine calls his followers.

Friar walking with three college students through a college campus

The Legacy of

St. Augustine in the Catholic Church

Augustine was a thoughtful, empathetic, and loving servant of God. He valued community, welcomed others, and treated them the way they deserved to be treated. Augustine also laid the foundation for the Order of St. Augustine. The Order continues to explore ways to care for those in great need both in our Province work throughout Massachusetts, New Jersey, and surrounding states and in our greater missions throughout the world.

We invite you to continue to learn about St. Augustine, his life, and his teachings.

Sign up for our e-newsletter, where we share news and updates on how we continue to follow in St. Augustine’s footsteps.