The Ursuline Sisters began their ministry in Kentucky in 1858 when three sisters from Germany, led by Mother Salesia Reitmeier, answered a call to teach at St. Martin School in Louisville. Within two weeks of their arrival, the sisters were teaching 50 students with plans for constructing a convent and boarding/day school on Chestnut Street near Shelby. The building was completed in 1859 and was named Ursuline Academy. The new school for girls offered classes from elementary through the twelfth grade.
Soon the Ursuline Sisters were asked to operate and staff other schools. They established Sacred Heart Academy in 1877 on Workhouse Road (now Lexington Road) and by 1881, 20 schools were in the care of the growing community of 108 sisters. In addition to schools in Kentucky; since 1858 the Ursulines have also served in 23 other states and Peru, South America.
In 1917, the sisters completed construction of their new Motherhouse on what was to become the Ursuline Campus on Lexington Road.
By the late 1950s, the Ursuline Sisters had staffed or were staffing 23 parochial schools in the Louisville area, as well as schools in other states. They owned and operated in Louisville Ursuline College, Ursuline Academy, Sacred Heart Academy, Sacred Heart Model School, Angela Merici High School, and the Ursuline Speech Clinic.
When Vatican Council II (1963-65) issued its challenge of renewal, the Ursulines responded promptly, involving all the sisters in the renewal effort. The challenge resulted in revitalized prayer, diversified community living, restructured government, greater community participation and new forms of teaching Christian living. The Ursulines now experience living closer to the form of life established by Saint Angela Merici in 1535.
Today's ministries and interests reflect the rich diversity and legacy of service as put forth by the Ursuline foundress, Saint Angela Merici.They include social services, education, healthcare, parish/pastoral/spirituality/cross cultural ministries, presence and prayer.
Click here for a timeline of significant dates in Ursuline Sisters’ history.