The following information was taken from “The Yes Heard Round the World,” a history of the Ursuline Sisters of Paola from 1895-1975.
The Ursuline Sisters of Paola have returned “home” to be with their Kentucky cousins at Mount Saint Joseph. Both communities got their start in Louisville, where Ursuline Sisters from Straubing, Bavaria, established a motherhouse in 1858. It was the same Louisville bishop who helped the Ursulines of Mount Saint Joseph gain their independence, the Most Rev. William McCloskey, who also helped the Paola sisters break free.
A small group of Louisville sisters were teaching in the German school in St. Louis in the early 1890s when the priest who’d invited them suggested they start an independent community rather than face resistance from the Louisville Motherhouse. Sister Maurice Albert was the leader of a group of 13 sisters who wanted to stay in St. Louis, but knowing she needed more moral and financial help, she recruited Sister Jerome Schaub, an Ursuline Sister for 18 years who was teaching music in a school in Cumberland, Md. She would some to be known as “Mother Jerome” the rest of her days.
All did not go smoothly with the sisters’ attempt to separate from Louisville. The superior in Louisville, angry about the splinter group, recalled all the sisters teaching in St. Louis. The vicar general in St. Louis, who did not like what was happening to the schools, told the sisters seeking to separate they could not remain in St. Louis. Bishop McCloskey brought the 13 sisters to Shelbyville, Ky., a small town near Louisville, to establish an independent community in 1893. While there they received a letter of encouragement from Fr. Paul Joseph Volk, who had been instrumental in starting Mount Saint Joseph Academy and supporting an independent community at Maple Mount. The sisters continued their efforts to return to teach in the St. Louis schools, and in 1894, they were allowed to do so. Bishop McCloskey suggested they be prepared to teach in English-speaking schools in St. Louis, and they did so for the first time at St. Cronin’s in the fall of 1894.
With resistance still strong to forming an independent community in St. Louis, Mother Jerome spoke with Bishop Louis Mary Fink of Kansas, who was happy to have the sisters come to his diocese along the Kansas-Missouri border. He had a place ready in Scipio, Kansas, where he was in need of teachers, and was open to having them establish a motherhouse in his diocese. On Dec. 8, 1894, the sisters arrived in Paola to investigate a possible new home.
The motherhouse was established in 1895 on five acres of a former cornfield on the east edge of town. Ursuline Academy was built in 1896, and served students until it was closed in 1971, due to declining enrollment and a lack of sisters to teach. Mother Jerome was officially elected superior in 1901, and served in that role at various times for more than 30 years. She died in December 1942.
Note: The Ursuline Sisters of Paola merged with the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph in 2008.