St. Mary’s Parish to take ownership of historic monastery property

Photo submitted – The 15-acre St. Joseph Monastery is shown in an aerial photo along with the St. Mary’s Church and the nearby parish center. The church and the monastery have been neighboring properties since the 1850s and are joined together by a shared wall.Photo submitted  – Shown were the 17 remaining Benedictine Sisters of Elk County in a photo taken in 2013, prior to the closing of the historic St. Joseph Monastery in January 2014.
Amy Cherry
Staff Writer

St. Mary’s Parish has reached an agreement with the Benedictine Sisters of Elk County to transfer ownership of their St. Joseph Monastery lands to the parish.
“Our first goal in accepting the responsibility of now being stewards of the Sister’s Monastery lands is to protect our parish congregation into the future, and our parish home, the historic mother church of St. Marys,” said St. Mary’s Church Pastor Fr. Peter Augustine Pierjok, OSB.
Built in 1852, St. Joseph’s is the nation’s first Benedictine monastery, home to the Benedictine Sisters of Elk County. It closed in January 2014. At the time 17 sisters were living in the convent.
The parish will pay the appraised value of the land as well as make a charitable gift to help support the retired sisters who served at the monastery.
Funds to purchase the monastery will come from the parish’s reserve savings which will be replenished with money recently allocated to the church as a beneficiary from a local resident’s estate.

For more on this story, see today's print edition of The Daily Press.