November 10, 2021

Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez Presides at Catholic Housing and Community Services of the Archdiocese Of Philadelphia’s Blessing and Dedication of Saint Rita Place

Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez blessed and dedicated the 46-unit facility which will provide affordable housing for senior citizens in South Philadelphia.

Today at a special ceremony, Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez blessed and dedicated Saint Rita Place and the Cascia Center, a new affordable housing community for independent seniors in South Philadelphia.

Catholic Housing and Community Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (CHCS) along with project development partners, City and Government Officials, donors, and community supporters joined the Archbishop in celebrating the opening of the new building.

Located adjacent to the National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia on the corner of Broad and Ellsworth Streets, Saint Rita Place consists of 46 one-bedroom apartments for income eligible seniors 62 and older on the second through fifth floors. Additional features include a community room, food cupboard, laundry facilities, resident lounges, and on-site social services facilitated by CHCS staff to assist residents with aging in place.

Located on the ground floor, the building incorporates the National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia’s vision for the Cascia Center, a multi-purpose space for the work of community-building, peacemaking, and reconciliation. The 7,500 square foot space features offices, conference rooms, a kitchen, and facilities for various ministries that serve the needs of those who come as religious pilgrims to the Shrine.

“The dedication of Saint Rita Place and the Cascia Center is the culmination of a vision that began over a decade ago,” said Ms. Heather Huot, director of CHCS. “The remarkable partnership of CHCS and the National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia has created a beautiful and affordable home for seniors and a welcoming space for the sharing of Saint Rita’s charism of peace and healing.”

The five-story mixed-use space was designed by Cecil Baker + Partners Architects as an entirely new structure. This is CHCS’ latest collaboration with Cecil Baker + Partners which completed the architectural design work of CHCS’ Saint Francis Villa (Kensington) in 2016.

“Saint Rita Place and Cascia Center is such a unique and impactful mixed-use development that will introduce a beautiful, safe and sustainable affordable home for seniors, as well as a new Cascia Center. We are proud to partner with CHCS to bring their vision to life,” said Nancy Bastian, Partner, Cecil Baker + Partners Architects. “We had the exciting challenge of introducing a new development that celebrates the iconic and historic early 20th century National Shrine located next door. We utilized stone to complement the existing church structure, as well as red brick for residential scale. The new, landscaped plaza that is created between Saint Rita Place and the Shrine will become a place for residents and pilgrims to the Shrine to gather.”

In 2019, the Saint Rita Place development was awarded with a tax credit allocation of approximately $12 million by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) and partnered with RBC Capital Markets and Capital One for financing of the development.

The development also received assistance from the City of Philadelphia, National Housing Trust Funds, Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh Affordable Housing Program Funds, and a private investment. The National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia also contributed $1.4 million toward the cost of constructing the Cascia Center. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia donated the land for the development.

A replay of the celebration can be viewed on Archbishop Pérez’s Facebook at

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Editor’s Note: For pictures from today’s event, please contact the Office for Communications at [email protected].

About Catholic Housing and Community Services

Catholic Housing and Community Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (CHCS) is recognized as a leading provider of senior living services throughout the Philadelphia region. Dedicated staff are committed to providing the best quality support for seniors and their loved ones through senior programs. Programs include senior housing, senior centers, parish-based eldercare programs, in-home support programs, elder care helpline, and senior clubs. Last year, CHCS served over 7,000 seniors in the Philadelphia region.

About the National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia

Founded in 1907 by the Augustinian Province of Saint Thomas of Villanova, the National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia is a Roman Catholic community of prayer and worship located in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Inspired by the life and witness of Saint Rita of Cascia, an Augustinian saint known as a healer, reconciler, and peacemaker, the Shrine serves people from all walks of life as they live these virtues and come to encounter God in their midst.

About Cecil Baker + Partners

Cecil Baker + Partners is an architecture firm providing design services to governmental, educational, institutional and private sector clients. Established in 1982 and based in Philadelphia, the firm’s services include feasibility studies, programming, design of new structures, adaptive reuse of existing structures, and interior design. The firm’s designs have received regional and national accolades, including awards from The American Institute of Architects, Progressive Architecture, Architectural Record, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The firm’s designs have been published in the United States, Europe, Japan and South America.