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New chapter – Sisters close sale of Queen of Angels campus

By Stephen Floyd

The Benedictine Sisters of Mount Angel have officially sold the Queen of Angels Monastery after relocating from the property last year.

On Dec. 27, 2023, the Sisters closed the sale of the property to Salem-based Catholic Community Services (CCS), which has long been a ministry partner with the Sisters.

Sister Jane Hibbard, pastoral administrator of the order, said they are grateful to CCS for the continued partnership and for the support of the Mount Angel community.

“The Sisters look forward to seeing what develops and also promise to pray daily for what will emerge for the future use of the buildings and property,” said Hibbard.

CCS CEO Josh Graves said the group was “honored and humbled by the confidence the Sisters have placed in us.”

“We look forward to our continued partnership to sustain the ministries they founded and to preserve the monastery as a place of hope and healing,” said Graves.

A formal transfer ceremony is planned for March 20 during which local residents are encouraged by the stakeholders to join CCS and the Sisters in prayer and celebration, and share visions for the future of the property.

CCS has said it plans to renovate the living area of the monastery into apartments for St. Joseph’s Shelter, a transitional housing program for families in crisis currently located across the street.

The monastery was completed in 1888 and until last year served as the headquarters and primary home for the Sisters. As their ministries grew so did the campus, which eventually included a boarding school and teaching college.

The facility is also iconic for the 129-foot redwood towering outside the front steps, planted there as a sapling by Sister Protasia Schindler in 1893.

Membership in Catholic monastic orders has declined since the 1960s and the Sisters were no exception. From their peak six decades ago with more than 140 members, the order currently has 19 professed members, many of whom are 80 or older, plus 80 oblates.

In 2022 the Sisters made the difficult decision to move on from the monastery as it was too large to meet their needs. The building itself needed attention which they struggled to provide. 

By June of 2023 most of the Sisters had moved into Orchard House, an assisted living facility next door that grew out of a healthcare ministry the Sisters founded in 1955. Others who required less assistance moved into Mount Angel Towers across from Mount Angel Abbey.

The order continues to actively engage the community through prayer and ministry. They maintain an office at the former monastery and will continue to do so under CCS.

While the transition was in the works, the Sisters sought out a partner that could take ownership of the monastery in a manner that would continue the Sister’s legacy.

They initially partnered with Mountain West Investments which expressed interest in building a “front porch community” on the undeveloped areas of the monastery grounds. This would have involved mixed-density housing with an emphasis on walkability and open spaces to encourage active relationships between neighbors.

After initial planning efforts, Mountain West pulled out in early 2023 and the Sisters began talking with CCS about sale of the property. CCS already had a history of stewardship over ministries and property begun by the Sisters. 

In 2017 CCS assumed operations of St. Joseph’s Shelter as well as Mission Benedict, a food and resource center, and Casa Adele, which provides housing for migrant workers. In 2018 CCS also purchased the properties associated with these ministries on Main Street through Saint Joseph Shelter, LLC.

These programs are expected to continue under CCS from their current locations for the time being. The transition of programs into the former monastery is expected to occur after facility planning and potential renovations occur over the next year or so.

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