August - Month of Anniversaries
It seems quite appropriate to write the first blog from the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill Archives in August. August is the month of many new beginnings for our Congregation. We begin this new adventure telling of our August anniversaries.
August 20, 1870 – Sisters Aloysia Lowe, Blanche O’Keefe, and Maria Theresa O’Donnell, along with two novices arrived by train from Cincinnati, Ohio to start a foundation of Sisters of Charity in Altoona, PA., then part of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Bishop Domenec, the second Bishop of Pittsburgh at the request of Father John Tuigg wrote to the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati asking them to send sisters to teach in the Diocese. While the superiors in Cincinnati felt unable to staff schools for Pittsburgh, they offered to send sisters to help establish a base in the Diocese. Thus, the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill began in August 1870 with Sister Aloysia named the first Mother Superior of the new Congregation.
The young community flourished and at the end of ten years, the convent at Saint John’s in Altoona was no longer able to house the growing number of Sisters and Novices. Mother Aloysia Lowe set out with great determination to find a “Home for the Sisters.” After traveling many miles from Altoona to Beaver County through Allegheny County, tramping through orchards, meadows, and woods, Mother Aloysia found the spot of her dreams when the Jennings Farm in Greensburg, Pa was on the market.
After confronting objections from the Bishop and financial concerns, Mother Aloysia was able to purchase the farm that housed the “Stokes Mansion” with the help of generous friends. The purchase price had risen from the original $50,000 to $75,000. using the contents of her “black bag” along with a loan procured from the Johnstown Savings Bank, Mother Aloysia paid $30,000 in cash and the balance secured by a mortgage at 5%. The Sisters were to be in possession of the farm on August 2, 1882. Mother Aloysia received the deed on August 7, 1882. Mother Aloysia Lowe along with Sisters Adelaide Dunn, Raphael Kane, and Fidelis Ruffner took possession. The Sisters had a HOME!
Statistics for the Sisters of Charity (1870-1880)
92 Individuals entered
12 were dismissed
19 left the Community
As 1881 began there were 55 sisters to staff the schools, maintain the convents, and administer the community. Father John Tuigg became the third Roman Catholic Bishop of Pittsburgh.
-Written by Sister Louise Grundish