The demographics reveal that our population is aging fast. We’re living longer. Health care will be expensive. Many of us will not have enough money laid up for a long old age. How are we going to manage to look after all the old folks? The church will have to imagine how to deal with all the old people. Now, one of my problems is that I have more ideas than time to make them work, but here’s an idea that I think would be wonderful.

First you take the model of a Carthusian monastery. Each person has a two roomed cell that opens onto a shared cloister on one end and into a private walled garden on the other end. Each person’s accommodation is small, but there is common space: an adoration chapel, library, calefactory, clinic and a refectory, and single old people come to live there together. This is a community for committed Catholics, and it’s built next to a parish church where daily Mass is offered.

Furthermore, instead of being out in the country, it’s in the town. This means the residents can be involved in the wider community. They can do community work, help the poor, get involved in the local schools. They won’t need a car because they can walk to the supermarket or the coffee shop or the doctor’s office.

How to fund such a project? One model which works is that the old person, on admittance, (just like in a monastic community) signs over all their property and wealth. For this they will be assured of loving, Catholic care until their natural death. No ‘pop off pills’ in this place. If they live until they’re 127 the community loses out financially, but if they check out early the community (and everyone in it) benefits. Of course this solution is not terribly popular with the offspring of old people, but lots of old people won’t have anyone to look after them, so it might be attractive to them.

Last thing: we need people to look after the old people. The way to do this is to have not-so-old old people do that work. Let the younger members of the community look after the older ones.

There happens to be about five acres of land adjacent to the Our Lady of the Rosary parish in Greenville SC. All we need now is an entrepreneurial type dreamer-manager and a couple of Catholic billionaires with no idea what to do with their money…