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Historic photos of The Ursuline Sisters in Blue Point

The Ursuline Sisters are selling their longtime United States headquarters in Blue Point, marking the end of an era as the number of nuns declines and the order contemplates its future.
The sisters, who at their height in the 1960s numbered close to 100, are down to 40 members. Most are in their 70s and above; the oldest turns 101 in June. They are based mainly on Long Island and in Connecticut.

The sale of the center does not mean the order is shutting down soon in the United States, Joanne Callahan, head of the U.S. province of the order, said. The youngest member is 46, and many of the nuns, although past typical retirement age, plan to keep working.

Left to right – Sr. Imelda O’Connor (deceased),
Credit: Ursuline Sisters

Former Yankees manager Joe Torre had a visit from the Ursuline Sisters around 1999, including his own sibling, Sister Marguerite Torre, second from right. With them are Sister Imelda O'Connor, Sister Catherine Riley, Sister Mary Anne Sheehan and Sister Ursula Leibold.

Clothing Day Novitiate, 1951 at the Ursula Convent.
Credit: Ursuline Sisters

Clothing Day Novitiate, 1951, at the convent at St. Ursula Center. In 1935, the Ursuline Sisters purchased the Joseph Senger estate in Blue Point and relocated the novitiate, previously in Ozone Park, to this new site. 

Ursuline Convent, before the 1980 fire. The Sisters
Credit: Ursuline Sisters

The convent at St. Ursula Center before it was destroyed in a 1980 fire.It was rebuilt and in 1983 the site was dedicated as a retirement home for the sisters and a retreat center for spiritual development. 

1951 at the Ursula Convent. The Sisters purchased
Credit: Ursuline Sisters

The sisters at the convent in 1951.

Group picture during Mother Ursula 50th Jubilee, at
Credit: Ursuline Sisters

A group picture during Mother Ursula 50th Jubilee, at the convent.

Postcard of the Ursuline Convent, before the 1980
Credit: Ursuline Sisters

A postcard of the convent shows it before the 1980 fire. The convent at St. Ursula Center before it was destroyed in a 1980 fire.It was rebuilt and in 1983 the site was dedicated as a retirement home for the sisters and a retreat center for spiritual development. 

Sister Joanne Callahan , US Province leader of
Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa

“We have to change, but we do it with great joy,” said Sister Joanne Callahan, head of the U.S. province of the Ursuline sisters, of the decision to sell the Blue Point property. “This is somehow where God is calling us right now in this moment of our lives.”

Sister Joanne Callahan , US Province leader of
Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa

Callahan, who  served for 22 years as superintendent of the Catholic school system for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, said, "Yes, there is certainly a huge loss, but we still have a lot of work to do for the church.” She noted that elsewhere in the world, the order is growing, with largest concentration in India, with 800 sisters.

Sister Joanne Callahan , U.S. Province leader of the Ursuline sisters, is pictured Tuesday April 25, 2017 at their main U.S center in Blue Point. “It isn’t over for us,” said Callahan, who also served for 22 years as superintendent of the Catholic school system for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, about selling the Blue Point center. “Yes, there is certainly a huge loss, but we still have a lot of work to do for the church.”

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