Bishop Blesses Site for Visionary Senior Living Community at Garvey Manor


By Tony DeGol

After 39 years in their current house, John and Connie Letscher have found a new place to call home.

The Letschers were the first to purchase a house for construction in the new Marian Heights senior living community at Garvey Manor Nursing Home in Hollidaysburg.

“We’ve been looking for a community like this, and we found out about Marian Heights, and it just fits the bill,” John stated. “And we were looking for the kind of support system that Garvey offers.”

Right now, just a chalk outline is on the site of their new residence but construction will start soon.

The house could be ready for the Letschers in just a matter of months, and Connie is having a ball planning every detail.

“We’ve had a great deal of input,” she noted. “We were able to select the color of our house and have some input in the interior. It was the first time I ever had the experience of looking at a design and making the changes that will complement our lifestyle and what we would like to have. It has been fun.”

The Letschers, who currently reside in the Turkey Valley area of Hollidaysburg, were among those on hand on October 15 when Bishop Mark was invited to bless the site.

“This is certainly a forward-vision reality that is coming to fruition today,” Sister Joachim Anne Ferenchak, O. Carm., Administrator of Garvey Manor, stressed in her remarks.

Discussion about the addition of senior housing at Garvey Manor, she said, first began around 1997. In the years that followed, various steps were taken in that direction, and one of the most notable happened in 2016 when Garvey purchased the adjacent property that housed the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown Administration Center.

When the Diocese moved its pastoral center to its current Altoona location in 2019, plans for Marian Heights moved into high gear.

“The blessing of God has been upon Garvey Manor for our 55-plus years of existence,” Sister Joachim continued. “As we move forward with the Marian Heights Senior Living Community, dedicated to His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, it’s going to be another extension of the ministry of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown and a positive community not only for Catholics, but the community at large. As we build the Church, we build the ministry, and we move forward in service to humanity.”

Future residents of Marian Heights will be couples and individuals 62 years and older. The cottages and homes are designed to promote total independence with various floor plan options including one or two-bedroom options, fully equipped kitchens, one and two-car garages, porches, and outdoor lawns.

Amenities and services that will be offered may include arranged meals, housekeeping, 24-hour emergency staff response, and maintenance of grounds.

Before traveling on foot and on a golf cart to bless the locations where houses will be built throughout the development, Bishop Mark offered remarks.

“The homes that we are about to bless on this site will be blessed over and over again for those who dwell in them, for those who will visit with them,” he commented. “I’m sincerely grateful to everyone for all the efforts that have been made to bring this about. I’m glad to be part of it and be with you today.”

As the Letschers look forward to the next chapter in their life, the site blessing was another reminder that moving day will be here before they know it.

“Change is good for everybody, and that’s what we’re doing,” Connie said. “We’re making it good for ourselves.”

Added John: “We’re happy to be here!”

Editor’s Note: For more information about Marian Heights Senior Living, contact Holly Keller at (814) 695-5571 or

[Photos: (Top) While riding in a golf car, Bishop Mark blesses the property of the Marian Heights senior living community at Garvey Manor on October 15. (Inset) John and Connie Letscher, the first to purchase a home at Marian Heights, stand by the property on which their house will be built.]