A Long Island nun on a summer excursion to Europe a year after retiring from her teaching job at St. Anthony’s High School has been reported missing, with no contact from her since July 6, according to her order and a family member.
Sister Eileen Christie’s clothing, passport, credit cards and tablet were found in her room at the same hostel in Hallstatt, Austria, that she had frequented on three previous trips, said her nephew Bill Freda of Valley Stream.
In the most recent email he received, sent on July 6, his aunt, 72, with the Sisters of St. Joseph, Brentwood, spoke of heading out to the supermarket to buy food, Freda said.
He said that on the morning of July 11, having had no word from her, he “put on my detective hat” and called her lodgings in Innsbruck, her next destination, only to hear that she had not arrived as expected on July 9.
“The panic hat goes on,” he said, as he dialed the Hallstatt hostel, hearing that she had not been seen there since July 6 and that her belongings were still in her room.
Local police have been investigating, he said, with information relayed to him via the U.S. State Department’s liaison in Vienna. He said he’s gotten word that there has been no credit card activity since July 6. Also, he said, his aunt was not traveling with a cellphone, which could have been tracked.
The State Department said that, “If a U.S. citizen is missing, we work closely with local authorities and cooperate fully in their search efforts” and that “we have no further comment at this time.”
According to a spokeswoman for the order, authorities locally and overseas have been notified and “are working to locate her.” Also, the order notified Bishop William Murphy of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, “who has called the bishop in Austria.”
Christie, an avid hiker and swimmer, is a veteran solo traveler, her nephew said. Police have checked local hiking trails and searched an area around a nearby lake on Thursday.
Freda says that his aunt’s disappearance is “baffling” and “depressing” and “you can’t get a worse scenario.” Family members, he said, are “keeping a stiff upper lip” and hoping there’s some explanation, no matter how improbable.
He and his aunt had been in regular contact since late June when she headed off first to Croatia, then Austria with plans to move on to Italy. He said he wasn’t surprised to get no email for a few days, as she had indicated a need to walk into the town of Hallstatt to get a Wi-Fi connection.
The sister had just retired after 25 years teaching theology at St. Anthony’s High School, Brother Gary Cregan, the South Huntington school’s principal, told News 12 Long Island.
A student back when Christie taught seventh-grade English in East Northport, Lisa Cumiskey-Miranda, 46, said she’s run into her former teacher over the years.
As a teacher, Christie was “very, very cool — you could relate to her,” she said.
“She’s a strong woman,” Cumiskey-Miranda said, “but I’m nervous,” that she hasn’t contacted her family.
“I’m sending a lot of great thoughts her way. Sister Eileen, please come back. We need you.”