Maryhurst celebrated the installation of an historical marker recognizing Good Shepherd work in North America since 1843. Several public officials, foundation leaders, donors, board members, Maryhurst staff, and Good Shepherd Sisters joined in the celebration on September 14, 2018. It was an honor to have Sisters travel here for the event from St. Louis, Cincinnati, and St. Paul.
The historical marker sits at the corner of 8th Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard (originally named Walnut Street) in the heart of Louisville, Kentucky. This is near the site of the original Maryhurst building.
The actual corner where all of Maryhurst’s original buildings were doesn’t exist anymore because of urban development that took place in the 1960’s. The corner of 8th Street and Muhammad Ali is as close as we could get to Maryhurst’s original site.
Maryhurst’s other large building (erected in the 1860’s) was built at the corner of 23rd Street and Bank Street in Louisville’s Portland neighborhood. Maryhurst sold that property to Shawnee Baptist Church when we moved to Dorsey Lane in 1976. Shawnee Baptist is still located at 23rd and Bank. They’ve made a number of modifications to the site, but it still has many of the historical components.
Tribute to past and present
Sr. Brigid Lawlor said of the commemoration to Good Shepherd, “This is a marvelous tribute to the great work of the past and more so today, in the present work at Maryhurst. Maryhurst expresses the values lived through the Congregation and the countless people in Louisville who participate in the holy work.”
Sisters of the Good Shepherd came to Louisville at the invitation of Kentucky Archbishop Joseph Flaget, a native of France. Saint Mary Euphrasia accepted the invitation and sent five young Sisters to the “New World” in 1842.
After a harrowing trip across the Atlantic Ocean, the Sisters landed in NewYork and slowly made their way to Louisville. As the first Good Shepherd Sisters in North America, these young women had no home of their own and were graciously taken in by the Sisters of Loretto.
After many months of construction and preparation, the Sisters opened their convent. On September 15, 1843, they welcomed their first girl, Mary Fitzpatrick. Word spread quickly about the Sisters and before long they were establishing houses across the United States.
Good Shepherd work has had a significant impact on the Louisville community and on the entire state of Kentucky. As a result, the Commonwealth of Kentucky took little convincing to approve an official historical marker that commemorates Good Shepherd’s humble yet courageous beginnings in the New World.
Historical marker captures Good Shepherd legacy
The bronze historical marker reads:
“On this site in 1843, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd opened their first home in the U.S. Here, the Sisters provided shelter and care to girls who found themselves shunned by society and without resources. By 1867 the Louisville City Court referred homeless and at-risk women to the Sisters, who could care for and find proper homes for them.
After opening a second home on Bank Street in the 1860s, the Sisters provided vocational training to women in fields such as sewing and stenography. In the years after the Civil War, the Sisters sheltered African American children at this site. In 1939, the work of the Sisters was renamed Maryhurst. Sponsored by the Sedita family in honor of Maryhurst’s 175th Anniversary, 2018. Dedicated September 14, 2018.”
Long-time Maryhurst benefactor, board member and financial consultant Steve Sedita and his family sponsored the historic marker. Their daughter Christine has worked at Maryhurst for nearly 20 years and is vice president of campus programs. Christine was a pilgrim at the Motherhouse in Angers several years ago.
Sisters who attended the event were Renee Scheich, Chris Hock, Mary Carolyn McQuaid, Elise Kramer, Dolores Kalina, Dorothy Doyle, Glynis McManamon, Gayle Lwanga Crumbley, and Bernadette Faulhaber. Monte Abbott, Province Archivist, also attended.