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St. Columbans retirement home in Silver Creek marks 45 years

By Susan Chiappone

CHAUTAUQUA CORRESPONDENT

SILVER CREEK – Wrinkles are celebrated at St. Columbans on the Lake Retirement Home on Route 5 in Silver Creek.

The residents and staff at the home marked 45 years since the opening of the home with a float in the Festival of Grapes Parade on Sunday. Their theme was based on aging grapes and included 12 residents who handed out boxes of raisins.

“The ‘raisin’ we’re here is celebrating St. Columbans 45th anniversary,” was printed on signs and snack-sized boxes of raisins. The float won first prize.

The sprawling stone building, often referred to as a castle, has been serving as a retirement home for the aging residents of Western New York for 45 years. Sister Corona Colleary has been the administrator since before the facility opened. There are 50 residents from throughout Western New York, as well as 35 staff members and many volunteers.

The float theme for the parade included volunteers dressed as “The California Raisins.” It also had grapevines and some of the senior citizens nestled among the vines as “aging grapes.” Children of the staff members walked along the parade route and danced to “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” by the late Marvin Gaye.

“Everyone had a wonderful time,” Sister Corona said. “They spent countless hours getting the float ready and revising the design,” she added. She said the group was thrilled to win first prize and has not entered a float in five years.

It has been a year of celebrations as the Columban sisters marked their 90th anniversary as a congregation. They have been in Silver Creek since 1930 when they arrived to help the Columban fathers with a seminary for young men entering the priesthood. When enrollment for students dropped off, the sisters helped to convert the dormitories and classrooms into rooms for a retirement home. Construction over the years has included a large addition for meetings and entertainment and renovations throughout the building.

Eleven sisters of the Congregation of St. Columban still work and live in the home. Other nuns do the work of the order in missionary outposts including Peru, China and Korea. The congregation started in Ireland, which is the birthplace of several of the nuns, including Sister Corona.

Three Columban fathers also live on the grounds where they celebrate Mass daily. This year will mark another anniversary, the 1,400th year since the death of their founding father, Saint Columban in Europe.