In 1916 Mother Angela Leininger, superior, directed the construction of a convent on Cherokee Drive (now Lexington Road), east of downtown Louisville. The building, which consists of residential wings and a chapel, replaced the original Motherhouse built in the 1860s at the corner of East Chestnut and Shelby streets in Louisville.
The center of the new convent, both in location and in the life of the Sisters, was the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception. The cornerstone of the new building was laid on December 8, 1916. Exactly one year to that date, the building was dedicated and the first Mass celebrated in the Chapel. From archival accounts, “the ceremonies were private, the temperature was the coldest, and the snow was the deepest in Kentucky’s history.”
Over the years, the Chapel interior and exterior have undergone renovations and restorations to preserve its history, beauty, ambiance and craftsmanship. Work was done in 1944, 1957, 1980 and 1991. Today, the Chapel is in continual use by the Ursuline Sisters for Mass and daily prayer and by Sacred Heart Schools for Mass and other prayer services, and for special campus events.
At our closing Mass on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017, President Sister Janet Marie Peterworth remarked, “And so we have come to the end of our year-long centennial celebration for this beautiful and sacred space. Thank you, Archbishop Kurtz for being our presider and homilist. Glad you did not have to walk through knee-deep snow this year. It has been a wonderful year from start to finish. We have had culturally and musically diverse celebrations here. We have entertained hundreds of guests—meeting old and new friends along the way. These celebrations have taken us into new technology…at least new for us…as we have forayed into live-streaming so our sisters and friends off campus can participate in some of the celebrations in real time.
Of course, you know that this year did not just happen magically…even though it may seem that way, because it went off so smoothly. There was a planning committee as you might guess and many people were a part of that. I am not going to name everyone who participated less I forget someone or embarrass someone. But I do want to speak in the name of the Ursuline Sisters and say how grateful we are to all who helped to make this year memorable especially our Centennial Event Sponsors and Preservation Donors.
And so, this centennial year of the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception is officially closed. May it live on, however, in our hearts and memories.”