Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament To Sell Motherhouse
The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament announced this morning (May 2) that the religious order will sell its motherhouse in Bensalem, a 44-acre property the order’s founder, St. Katharine Drexel, purchased for its home shortly after its founding in 1891.
The sisters will also sell more than 2,200 acres of land it owns in Powhatan, Va., near Richmond, where it ran two schools for black students: St. Francis de Sales for girls and St. Emma Military Academy for boys. Mother Drexel’s brother-in-law, Col. Edward Morrell, purchased this property in the early 1890s and then transferred it to the order.
The congregation is making these moves in order to raise funds that will allow it to both care for retired sisters and continue its mission of serving some of the most vulnerable people in the United States, Haiti and Jamaica.
The sale also comes in response to the continued dwindling of the order’s ranks. From a peak of more than 600 members, the order today counts 104 sisters, and more than one-half are retired.
Along with the sale, the National Shrine of Saint Katharine Drexel will close. The shrine will remain open to the public through 2017, the sisters announced in a news release. The remains of St. Katharine Drexel, the second American-born person ever to be canonized, will be relocated to the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul in Center City Philadelphia, near the shrine erected to her memory.
“It is both an honor and a blessing to accept this responsibility,” Archbishop Charles Chaput said in a statement released by the Archdiocese. “We’ll also work collaboratively with the sisters to make sure their archival records are cared for appropriately within our Archdiocese.”
The congregation’s administrative offices will move to a new location in 2017, and a firm experienced in planning and assisting women religious congregations with the needs of aging members will help the sisters now living at the Motherhouse find new residences.
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