This is the final part of our 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. Part two on the Albany campus can be found here. Part three on the Evansville campus can be found here.
The second-oldest campus of the current Province of St. Louise dates to the first time there was a re-alignment of provinces in the United States. In 1910, a portion of the American Daughters would form a new province in Normandy, Missouri, just outside of St. Louis.
The new province had already begun planning before it became official when Sisters Eugenia Fealy, Augustine Park, and three Seminary sisters opened the new St. Louis Seminary at St. Vincent’s Hospital, one of the Daughters’ main hospitals in St. Louis at the time. For the first six years of the Province’s existence, affairs were run from the Hospital until the new Marillac Provincial House was completed. The official opening date of the Provincial House coincided with the consecration of the Chapel on September 27, 1916.
In 1930, the first burials at the Marillac Cemetery took place. The cemetery is still in use today and serves as the primary place of burial for Daughters of Charity who pass away in the St. Louis area. The first two individuals buried were Sister Isabel Thomas and Father John Sullivan, the first Provincial Director.
In 1939, as in other provinces, Villa St. Louise opened as a retirement facility for Sisters serving in the Ministry of Prayer so that they could begin – and end – their ministries on the same campus.
In 1957, the grounds of the Provincial House expanded into something larger and more experimental – Marillac College. This fully accredited institution was part of the trend of “Sisters’ colleges” where all students had to be professed or novice members of a community of women religious. You can learn more about Marillac College through this blog post.
Although it provided a robust learning environment for 17 years, the College was not financially viable and closed in 1974. By 1976, the remainder of the former College’s buildings had been sold to form the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL).
In 1995, with the land and building of the campus having grown too large for the size of the province at the time, the decision was made to downsize to a smaller set of offices and provincial house. Shortly after the final move occurred, the original Marillac Provincial House building was also sold to UMSL, where it would house the Honor’s College beginning in 2002. Sisters in the Ministry of Prayer relocated to Bridgeton, Missouri to live in a new facility next door to DePaul Health Center, then sponsored by the Daughters’ Health System. The provincial office moved to Olive Street in St. Louis City, with the new provincial house relocating to the so-called “yellow house,” a former cloister of a group of Augustinian nuns and a short walk away. When the opportunity arose in 2010, the Daughters purchased the historic “red house” next door to create the combined Provincial House of the Province of St. Louise. Although not a unified campus setting in the way that it once was, it suits the needs of the Province of St. Louise today after the provincial merger of 2011.
Marillac Provincial House was known for its large chapel with an alter made of 10,000 pieces of marble and large stained glass windows depicting, among others, St. Vincent de Paul in the galleys and the Martyred Daughters of Arras, to name just two.