The Ursulines of Brown County, with great concern for their neighbors and committed to good stewardship of the land, have taken steps to assure that their long-held property in St. Martin will maintain its character under new ownership.
The community arrived in northern Brown County in 1845 and has been serving the rural area ever since. We have been involved in education on the grade school, high school, and college levels, provided religious education to neighboring Catholic parishes, sponsored a summer camp for girls and spiritual retreats for women. The Sisters have been involved not only in parish activities but also in civic organizations as well.
Currently we have 23 members from 61- 95 years of age. Like many religious congregations, we realize that we are nearing completion as a religious community. However, we are counting on our sponsored ministries, Chatfield College in St. Martin/Cincinnati and Ursuline Academy in Cincinnati, as well as the many other people we have ministered to and with, to carry on our mission to further the Gospel of Jesus, value each individual person, and educate future generations.
For several years, the Ursulines of Brown County have been discerning about the future of our land as we near completion. We have been blessed to care for this land for almost 172 years. The Legacy Statement developed in 2010 concerning the care and protection of the Ursuline land reads, in part:
“First and foremost, every endeavor must reflect Gospel values and be in harmony with the nature of the land, its beauty, tranquility, and restorative potential for the human spirit. Our land is holy ground supporting efforts to experience and share the love of God in a myriad of ways. We want to ensure that there will be no impediments to deter these efforts from fullest expression.”
As part of our effort to put the Legacy Statement into practice, we placed the farmland in a conservation easement and returned the waterway to its original configuration as Solomon’s Run. These moves assure that both the 83.6 acres of farm land and the waterway will remain as they are into perpetuity.
Recently the Sisters made the unanimous decision to sell the non-farm property to Chatfield College, which the Ursulines founded in 1971, effective July 1, 2017, and to sell/auction the farmland in the near future. Because the Sisters are older and we are well aware of the challenges and the costs when a person ages, the proceeds from these sales will be used for retirement needs of the Sisters. Both the Sisters’ residence known as Brescia and the Ursuline administration building known as Springer will continue to be utilized by them.
Sr. Phyllis Kemper, Congregational Minister for the Ursulines of Brown County, said that this decision to divest themselves of the property did not come lightly. “The process toward making the decision took several years of prayer, discernment and consultation with professionals in the areas of real estate, finance, law and township and county government. The realities of aging helped us to understand that we wish to spend our last years ministering to people rather than caring for buildings and property. Through Chatfield College and future farmers, the legacy begun by our foundress Julia Chatfield will continue into the future.”
The Sisters invited more than 100 friends, neighbors, and stakeholders to a meeting on June 20 to communicate and explain this decision.
Phyllis Kemper, OSU