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Our Four Campuses: Albany, New York

This is part two of a four-part series on the history of the four primary campuses in the Province, which correspond to the locations where the four provinces that formed the Province of St. Louise had their provincial houses:  Emmitsburg, MD; Albany, NY; Evansville, IN; and St. Louis, MO.  Part one on the Emmitsburg campus can be found here.

January 4, 1969 would be a momentous day for the American Daughters of Charity; two U.S. provinces – one in Emmitsburg, MD and the other in Normandy, MO – were to be re-organized into five provinces.  Among them, a new Northeast Province was to begin to create its own history.

Preparations for the change had been taking place for months.  In October 1968, Sister Mary Basil Roarke accepted her position as the first Visitatrix of the new province and in December travelled to Jamaica, Queens, New York City to begin establishing a temporary Provincial House at the DePaul House of Study. 

The Dorchester Place Provincial House in Queens, New York City
The Dorchester Place Provincial House, Queens, first provincial house of the Northeast Province

In 1970, the question of a permanent Provincial House was discussed, and Albany, New York was selected as the best site due to its central geographic point within the province with a long history with the community.  The property in Menands was purchased from the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who were looking to downsize their infrastructural footprint due to declining numbers.  The final contracts for the purchase were signed on April 19, 1971.  Sisters Margaret Finnegan and Caroline Mooney oversaw the preparations of the new home, and the first moving vans left New York City for the Capital Region on July 3.

Sister Mary Basil Roarke receives a blessing from Father Joseph Tinnelly, C.M., 1971
Sister Mary Basil Roarke, Visitatrix, receiving the blessing of Father Joseph Tinnelly, C.M., Provincial Director, at the opening of the new Provincial House, 1971

The house was comprised of Sisters serving in Provincial governance and Sisters who served in the Ministry of prayer (who lived in the area that became known as St. Louise House).  The campus was also home to the Seminary for sisters in Formation until 1990, when an interprovincial Seminary was established for the Northeast and Southeast Provinces in Emmitsburg. 

In 1995, a new office building was constructed for the Provincial Council’s and Visitatrix’s work in governance so that the St. Louise sisters could have a larger oratory and activity space.  In 1998, the community saw their merger with the Canadian province of the Daughters of Charity, creating a truly binational province.   Both flags fly on campus to this day.

The American and Canadian flags on the Albany campus
The binational flags on campus

In 2011, the Northeast province became part of the new Province of St. Louise, along with three other provinces in North America.  Facing their own declining numbers, the Albany campus began a process of transition, as the Daughters partnered with Franciscan Ministries to continue to care for the Sisters who live and serve in Albany, as well as to provide senior living space in a faith-based environment to those living in upstate New York. 

The campus has been home to the Daughters for over 50 years, and to the sisters who originally came from that province, remains a deeply important place in their lives and ministries.

Aerial view of the Albany campus in autumn facing west southwest, 1988
Campus in autumn, facing west southwest, 1988

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