On April 2, hundreds of residents gathered at Bishop Soenneker Home in Knottsville to seek answers as to why the home would be closing per an unexpected announcement made on March 28 by Bishop William F. Medley. After residents and the Bishop Soenneker Board of Directors discovered all 52 residents would have to be relocated by June 30, emotions ran high as the community rallied to obtain answers.
The bishop told the community and news sources alike that a committee spent many months studying the viability of the home. The notion that current and future residents would benefit more from staying at larger-scale personal care facilities than they would at the Bishop Soenneker Home has been the bishop’s primary reason for closing.
At the April 2 meeting, those in the audience asked board members what they planned to do if the home were to close before the community received any answers.
Board President Tim Johnson said a protest in opposition to the diocese’s decision was possible, if the community didn’t receive answers by Tuesday. Monday afternoon, however, a group of protesters gathered in front of St. Stephen Cathedral, holding signs that expressed their anxiety and frustration.
A statement was released by the diocese prior to the protest, and the bishop shared his understanding with those who’ve been outspoken about their disparity in regard to the home’s closing.
“We realize that this decision has a rippling effect in the Bishop Soenneker Home extended community and we respect the passion and acknowledge the pain from this community regarding the choice,” the statement said. “We know the Bishop Soenneker Home is an integral part of the Knottsville area; however, the plan to close the facility by June 30 is still in place.”
The home, which isn’t funded by the Diocese of Owensboro but, rather, through payments made by the residents who live there, sits on land owned by the diocese. The decision to close the home was made by the bishop, who has previously said there were no monetary incentives that fueled his decision, although many residents of Knottsville have been skeptical of that statement.
“The question that we continue to hear is, ‘why?’ As said before, this decision wasn’t made hastily or based on financial reasons,” the statement read. “The reason continues to be our belief that in the long run, the residents at the Bishop Soenneker Home will benefit tremendously from the resources available at larger-scale personal care facilities. This may not be the answer you are seeking; however, it is the honest answer.”
The statement was ambiguous as to what the future held for the land and building currently occupied by the Bishop Soenneker Home. Rumors that a new parish hall would be built were neither put to rest nor were they confirmed via the released statement.
“There is speculation that the Home is being closed so the parish can build a new parish hall. It is our understanding that a parish hall has been in the works for some time now, with one of the options that it be built between the Home and St. William Church,” the statement read. “Could this plan now change with the closing of the Bishop Soenneker Home? Perhaps, but that becomes a parish decision as the land belongs to them.”
As stated in previous press releases, the diocese said they were doing all they could to ensure each individual at Bishop Soenneker would be relocated to other facilities across town. A worry expressed by many in the Knottsville community — whether there are enough beds in the different nursing homes to hold all 52 residents at Bishop Soenneker — has not yet been addressed by the diocese.
“Other personal care facilities have reached out to the Bishop Soenneker Home to assist with finding new homes for the residents,” the statement said. “We are grateful for those who are doing their best to ensure these men and women find a comfortable place to live.”
The bishop concluded the release by saying, “We urge the Bishop Soenneker Home and Knottsville communities to make an effort to create a peaceful, supportive environment for the residents as they transition to their new homes,”