Sisters open doors to community for 50th anniversary
Daughters of Charity of The Sacred Heart
August 18, 2010
LITTLETON—Nestled at the top of Grove Street overlooking Littleton is one of the most peaceful places you will find in town.
The grounds are lush with flowers, the views of the town and the surrounding mountains are spectacular and there is a calm that is inviting.
This locale and its buildings aren't home to just anyone, but are the home of the Daughters of Charity of The Sacred Heart of Jesus.
For 50 years, these Catholic sisters have lived among the Littleton community, giving assistance where needed and also getting help from people in the area when necessary.
This Saturday, the sisters will say thank you for being part of Littleton for 50 years with a full day celebration.
"We really hope people can avail themselves to join us," said Sr. Monique Couture. "We wouldn't be here if it weren't for the support of the community."
The day will start with a small private meal with the sisters and distinguished guests at noon. That will be followed by a 1:30 p.m. festive liturgy at St. Rose of Lima Church on High Street and an open house from 3:30-6:30 p.m. at the convent. During the open house, Bishop John McCormack will rededicate the building.
Fifty years ago, it was community spirit that helped bring the sisters to Littleton, according to Couture.
When the sisters branched out in 1949 after the government structure of the congregation was divided into provinces, Sacred Heart, which has its original building in Newport, Vt., took up residence in Colebrook.
They established a school and it did so well, a bigger space had to be found for the administration and sisters. That land was found high up on Grove Street in Littleton, where the sunsets and mountain views are gorgeous.
In the summers, Mr. and Mrs. John R. Morron lived on that land, which extended towards the Rocks Estate and through where Interstate 93 is today, but was cut off when the interstate went through. The farm was called Hill Acres and a sign and pillars commemorating that can still be seen on and near a building on Route 302 heading towards Bethlehem.
The farm contained dairy cattle, sheep, thoroughbred horses and German shepherd dogs, according to Couture.
When the Morron's passed, Mrs. Morron's son, Lowell Burch and his wife Katharine, played a key part in the giving. According to, "Littleton: Crossroads of Northern New Hampshire," edited by the late Jack Colby, the couple donated the mansion and 68 acres to Francis Cardinal Spellman of New York. He sent the deed to the Bishop of New Hampshire, Ernest Primeau.
Couture said Primeau knew the sisters were looking for a place to expand and in 1960, the building and land were given to the Daughters of Charity of The Sacred Heart to be used as a novitiate, according to the Littleton book.
Today, the building is used as a skilled care facility and retirement home for sisters who have given many years of service.
The building they live in was formerly the farmhouse for the Morron's and Burch's and dates back to the early 1800s. Over the years it has been fixed up expanded on. The land that now contains lush green grass, trees and fields was once farmland, and Couture said they have an informal animal sanctuary there, as many wild animals—deer, bear, turkeys and others—come to wander and seek nourishment from the greens.
She said in 1970 was when it became a skilled care facility, which brought more activity. They hired nurses and lay people to help and today there is a full nursing staff working 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"We've had wonderful services of some very skilled and talented people," she said.
The facility also remains the central administration for Sacred Heart for New England, New York and Louisiana.
Couture also noted that Sacred Heart has always been involved in religious education, ministry and parish boards for many of the area towns and ministry to the poor is something important to the sisters.
She said through Catholic Charities they give help to fire victims, aid in emergencies and have furniture and other goods available for those that lose these items or don't have them.
She noted especially with the bad economy, residents have asked the sisters to show them how to garden or if they can have a plot in their garden. She said for the past three years, they have invited people to join them in their garden as a community project. Couture said it has been a "good experience' and they share the fruits of their labor with five area households.
"This is significant, it empowers people to do something," said Couture, noting that they then go on and teach others.
They also have a prayer ministry, helping and guiding people who need assistance and hold youth ministry programs and fundraisers, as well as retreats.
"People feel comfortable enough to connect," she said, adding that part of their mission is to be present to the people in town even though the 27 sisters can't always be out and about, keeping with the mission started over 100 years ago in Newport.