Sisters Justine Hill, from left, Donna Frey, Nelda Chafitelli, and Kathleen Padden stand in front of the new mosaic that depicts the history of the Toledo group of Ursulines.
Allan Detrich / blade Enlarge
In December, 1854, a group of five Ursuline nuns left Cleveland with the goal of "bringing education to the people of Toledo."
The sisters arrived Dec. 12 and four days later opened the doors to a school, teaching 200 children of all ages and grade levels on the first day of class.
The Catholic religious order, whose founding dates to 1535 in Brescia, Italy, has continued to provide education to Toledoans ever since and now runs the St. Ursula Academy girls' school on Indian Road.
The order also oversaw the Mary Manse College on Collingwood between 1922 and 1975.
The Ursuline Sisters of Toledo opened a 14-month 150th anniversary celebration in October, 2003, and will hold a special liturgy tomorrow to mark the end of their sesquicentennial.
The liturgy will be celebrated by Toledo Bishop Leonard Blair, with Ursuline nuns from throughout the country attending the service.
The order first came to America in the 1840s when Father Amadeus Rappe, chaplain of the Ursulines in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, came to northern Ohio to organize St. Francis De Sales parish.
In 1847, Father Rappe, known as "the Missionary of the Maumee," was appointed bishop of northern Ohio and moved to Cleveland.
In 1850, he visited France and returned to Ohio with five Ursuline sisters to serve in his district.
Four years later, Bishop Rappe asked the Cleveland Ursulines to help establish a school in Toledo and they sent five nuns: Mother Superior des Seraphim Young, Sister Stanislaus Cahil, Sister Theresa Foley, Sister Francis Xavier Dietz, and Sister Clare Rogers.
A convent and an academy were set up at Bishop Rappe's former residence in Toledo at Cherry and Erie streets.
Welcoming the Ursuline delegation to Toledo were the Rev. Augustine Campion, pastor of St. Francis De Sales parish, and the Rev. Charles Evrard, pastor of St. Mary's parish.
Today there are 74 Ursuline sisters in Toledo, Sister Kathleen Padden said, and nine Ursuline houses in the United States,
including one in Tiffin, with a total of about 800 sisters in the religious order.
"We had our opening liturgy in October of last year, and now we're having the closing liturgy, and we've had some little celebrations in between," Sister Kathleen said.
Among the highlights of the sesquicentennial was the installation of a mosaic in January at the Indian Road school's Mary Ann LaValley Activities Center.
The colorful mosaic, created by nationally known artist Sister Jane Mary Sorosiak, a member of the Sylvania Franciscan order, depicts the Toledo Ursuline order's history.
Sister Jane Mary was a student at St. Ursula Academy and is a graduate of Mary Manse College. At the top of her mosaic is the Latin phrase "Soli Deo Gloria," which means "For the Glory of God Alone." It also includes a laurel tree, which is the Toledo Ursulines' symbol of the Holy Spirit, an image of patroness St. Ursula, an image of St. Angela Merici, foundress of the Ursulines, and images of many of the Toledo buildings where the nuns have conducted their ministry.
Sister Kathleen said the yearlong celebration also included the restoration of the order's coat of arms that had been displayed in the library of the former Mary Manse College.
The order also ran Camp Ladyglen for girls at Nazareth Hall near Grand Rapids, Ohio, during the summers until 1974.
"I came to know the Ursuline Sisters through Camp Ladyglen," said Sister Kathleen, who next month will celebrate her 55th anniversary as a nun.
A former teacher, Sister Kathleen has taught at Ursuline schools in Ohio, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Japan.
"It's been a wonderful experience," she said. "If you talk to any sister in our community, she would tell you what an exciting life we have."
The Ursuline Sisters of Toledo will hold the closing liturgy for their sesquicentennial anniversary at 2:30 p.m. tomorrow in the gymnasium of St. Ursula Academy, 4025 Indian Rd.
- David Yonke