A religious community that’s been part of Oxford for 71 years is preparing to leave and sell its property.
The Dominican Sisters Motherhouse, located at 775 W. Drahner Rd., will be closing its doors. Exactly when has not been determined.
“Too few sisters and too much space” was the reason given by Sr. Joan Marie Jereb, O.P., one of the residents.
“We have a lot of empty rooms . . . It’s not efficient to keep the whole building running when only a few of the rooms are used,” she said.
According to Alice Black, director of communications for the Dominican Sisters of Peace, there are currently only 10 sisters living in the 57,860-square-foot motherhouse, which has 43 bedrooms and opened in 1998, and “the median age of the sisters is 82.”
“It is sad to leave Oxford, but the sisters see the necessity of such a move due to the decline in the number of sisters in the house,” said Sr. Sheila Marie McIntyre, O.P., mission group coordinator for the Oxford Motherhouse.
“It’s not something we have chosen to do, but something that the economy requires that we do,” Jereb explained. “Most of us are rather devastated by the whole decision, but we live a life that is under obedience . . . We feel very sad about it, but it’s what we have to do.”
The 10 sisters in Oxford will be moving to other convents, according to Black.
Black said the motherhouse property, which spans approximately 30 acres and includes the 16,862-square-foot St. Mary’s Retreat House, is currently “under contract” with a potential buyer. She noted if the sale goes through, the cemetery on the property “will be preserved.”
“There’s an easement allowing access to (it) in the contract,” Black said.
The Dominican Sisters came to Oxford in 1948 when they were part of the Congregation of St. Rose of Lima. They settled on a piece of property that was originally a little more than 800 acres because, according to a January 1998 Leader article, it was beautiful, “close to town” and “offered privacy.”
In April 2009, the Dominican Sisters of Oxford joined with six other Dominican congregations, “whose origins were different, but whose Dominican traditions were the same,” to form the Dominican Sisters of Peace, which is based in Columbus, Ohio.
Once the Oxford Motherhouse closes, the Dominican Sisters of Peace will have four motherhouses left in Ohio, Kansas and Kentucky.
“We have many friends (here) and we’re very sad to have to leave that all behind,” Jereb said. “The people of Oxford, as well as (the) people in the surrounding area, have been very, very good to us.”
Black noted the Dominican Sisters of Peace will continue to maintain a presence in the area through the Lourdes Senior Community and convent in Waterford.