St. Louis Center is a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) residential community in Chelsea, MI for individuals with I/DD.
St. Louis Center is licensed by the State of Michigan and accredited by CARF International, the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. CARF is an independent, nonprofit accreditor of health and human services.
“To change the world, we must be good to those who cannot repay us.” – Pope Francis
New Strategic Direction
St. Louis Center has adopted a new strategic direction. In alignment with Pope John Paul II’s After Us program to care for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) who have aging parents, the Center will focus on providing care for adult men and women. Going forward, the Center will provide care only for those age 18 and older with I/DD. As such, the Center did not renew its license with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to care for children effective June 20, 2021. Four of the minor residents in the children’s program aged into the adult program and remain at St. Louis Center. Several others were adopted by private families; the Center worked closely with the State of Michigan to provide a smooth transition of care for the remaining minor residents.
The vision and strategic direction of creating an integrated community for those with I/DD and those without has been front and center since the inception of St. Louis Guanella Village in 2010. The Village now consists of small group homes, single-family homes, and duplexes, offering options for adult residents, as well as, their family members who choose to live on campus to be near their loved one. This creates an integrated community with non-disabled people and those with I/DD living together in the same Village. This change is helping meet the needs of a growing aging adult population with I/DD and emerging new regulations at the federal and state levels.
In 1958, Cardinal John Francis Dearden of the Archdiocese of Detroit entrusted to the Servants of Charity Congregation from Italy the administration and oversight of a new boarding school in Chelsea, Michigan for 60 boys with I/DD. St. Louis School was dedicated in 1961 and began its educational program with four priests, four Holy Family sisters, and five special education teachers.
Michigan’s Mandatory Special Education Act of 1971 became law in 1973 and the residents slowly began attending the Chelsea Public Schools. Public Law 94-142 was passed by the United States Congress in 1975, guaranteeing a free appropriate public education to each child with a disability. St. Louis School became St. Louis Center and entered a new phase of providing residential care and life skills training for its residents, opening AFC programs and accommodating residents older than eighteen years of age. The Knights of Columbus Hall and the chapel were built in 1970. St. Joseph Hall was opened in 1984 to provide young men more opportunities to develop their independent living skills. Major renovations of the main building took place in 1987.
Father Guanella Hall was added in 1988 for young adolescents then repurposed as an adult residence. In 2002, one wing of Fr. Guanella Hall was converted into a women’s program called “Our Lady of Providence.”
St. Louis Center has evolved over the past six decades (and counting) to meet the ever-changing needs of the individuals it serves. The Legacy Project launched in 2010 and is ensuring that the Center will be here for many years to come. St. Louis Center’s future looks to be as beautiful as its past. Read more here.
Guanellian Mission Principles
There are four central elements or principles of the Guanellian charism:
The Innate Value of the Human Person: In every human being there exists something more than any one of us can surmise. Every person has an extraordinarily rich reality and even in extreme cases of difficulty, suffering and poverty, there are no “limited persons,” but rather persons with limits. Every person bears a strong desire for continuous development in order to reach his or her full potential.
The Treasure of the Human Person is his or her Heart: The important value of a person lies not in his or her talents nor professional success, but in his or her emotional expression, capacity for relationships, and commitment to the development of society.
Dignity of the Poor: The person in need reveals the true face of the human being. Each person has dignity and worth.
Family Spirit: The central element of the Guanellian charism is Family Spirit. The “Guanellian House” should transmit warmth and the sense of acceptance that one feels in a family setting.
St. Louis Guanella founded the Servants of Charity, a religious congregation of priests and brothers, to carry out his mission of serving the needs of special people and the poor throughout the world. On March 24, 1908, Fr. Guanella and the first confreres professed publicly their vows. Based on the principles expounded by their Founder, St. Louis Guanella, SLC provides a family atmosphere and promotes the development of the whole person according to each one’s capabilities.
During most of Fr. Guanella’s lifetime, Italy was in a state of political and social unrest. The industrial revolution and the unification of Italy resulted in there being many abandoned, poor people. Often the elderly, sick, and people with disabilities were left to care for themselves. Fr. Guanella took these people in, established homes and founded two religious congregations, the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence and the Servants of Charity, to care for them.
Today, the Servants of Charity carry on the mission of charity in twenty-three countries on five continents. As always, they seek to care for those most in need, bringing hope, love, and dignity to all. St. Louis Center opened in 1960 and continues to be administered by the Servants of Charity, an International order of priests and brothers whose primary mission is to care for people with I/DD, the poor, and the abandoned. Members of the Servants of Charity at St. Louis Center today include Fr. Satheesh Alphonse Caniton, Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, Fr. Enzo Addari, Fr. David Stawasz, Fr. Fortunato Turati, Fr. Leo Joseph Xavier, Fr. Franklin Michael, and Fr. Amal Rayapillai.
The Strategic Plan was developed in 2002 and is updated regularly. The Community Advisory Committee (CAC) reviews progress against goals annually. The Strategic Plan is used as a major tool for guiding the development of yearly operational plans and programs for St. Louis Center.
Strategic Plan Goals
1. To ensure the highest quality service delivery, St. Louis Center (SLC) will recruit and retain qualified people and invest in a culture that values innovation, collaboration, professionalism, and transparency.
2. SLC will build a thriving Village where each individual has the opportunity to reach their full potential in an integrated community.
3. SLC will have a sustainable business model and strive to expand financial support to residents with limited means.
4. SLC will continue advocating for the needs of people with I/DD and their families based on individual needs, wants or desires.
5. SLC will share and promote its spirituality, mission, and history with and among staff, residents, friends, benefactors, referral agencies, and other stakeholders.
Meet the talented individuals at St. Louis Center.
The Board of Directors of St. Louis Center is comprised of members of the local Servants of Charity Congregation who have accepted responsibility for the governing and policy-making responsibilities required under the Michigan Public Acts of 1931 and 1972 respectively.
The Board is deeply vested in St. Louis Center’s mission, and its presence at St. Louis Center is instrumental in creating the family spirit that lies at the heart of the mission.
Meet St. Louis Center’s Board of Directors here.
The Board of Directors of St. Louis Center has long been supported by its Community Advisory Council (CAC), which is comprised of lay advisors who assist with financial reporting and planning strategies.
The CAC also reviews the progress St. Louis Center makes in reaching the goals laid out in its strategic plan, which was developed in 2002 and is updated regularly. The CAC meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 6:00 p.m.
Meet Community Advisory Council here.
St. Louis Center’s staff is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of St. Louis Center residents.
The staff members care for the individuals they serve as if each were a member of their own family. Just like a family, the needs of St. Louis Center residents are constant.
Every employee makes a positive difference through their willingness to care, even if that means simply lending a listening ear.
Meet members of St. Louis Center staff here.
If you are looking for a rewarding job, St. Louis Center can offer you the ability to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those who rely on others each day for care. We are home to 54 adults with a variety of intellectual and developmental disabilities, and we treat each person as a member of our own family.