History

The Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph have a rich history that goes all the way back to the 16th century when Saint Angela Merici started the Company of Saint Ursula. To learn more, watch the video below describing the history of the Ursuline Sisters.

Established in 1874

First entrance of five young women into the novitiate.

The Ursulines of Mount Saint Joseph trace their origin to Saint Angela Merici, who founded the first teaching order of women in the Church, the Company of Saint Ursula, in Brescia, Italy, in 1535. In 1858, Bishop Martin John Spalding invited the Ursulines from Straubing, Bavaria, to establish a foundation in Louisville, Kentucky. At the request of Father Paul Joseph Volk, five Ursuline Sisters came from Louisville in 1874 to establish a school in western Daviess County at the site that is now Maple Mount, Kentucky.

In 1912, the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph became an autonomous congregation. Maple Mount is the Motherhouse of these Ursuline Sisters, women religious who live an apostolic life supported by prayer and contemplation. They proclaim Jesus to all people through the ministry of education and Christian formation.

The Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph minister in Kentucky, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Washington, D.C., and in Chile, South America. The first building at Mount Saint Joseph (shown left) was the first Motherhouse for Roman Catholic Sisters in Kentucky west of Louisville and the oldest girls’ Academy in Daviess County. It was founded on August 14, 1874. By 1912, 78 girls had graduated from the Academy and 89 Ursuline Sisters had lived and worked at Mount Saint Joseph. 

In 1925, the Sisters continued their dedication to education and opened Mount Saint Joseph Junior College for Women. The location was transferred to Owensboro in 1950 where it became co-educational and changed its name to Brescia College (now Brescia University). By the time of its centennial in 1974, over 1,600 women had attended Mount Saint Joseph Academy, but demands for services were changing. Guided by the advice of Saint Angela Merici, the 16th century foundress of the Ursuline Sisters, “to make changes according to the times and needs,” after 109 years of service, Mount Saint Joseph Academy closed in 1983. The original building still stands today and is now being used for the Mount Saint Joseph Conference and Retreat Center, a center for spiritual, cultural and educational enrichment.