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The Cloister

Posted 2/26/2019

Were Toledo Ursulines to be cloistered on not?


" While the nuns in their first years in Toledo observed the constitutions by not leaving the Convent grounds to teach, with the parish school population increasing so rapidly it became evident that all the children could not be accommodated at the convent site.  Mother Alphonsus therefore approached Bishop Gilmour for a solution.  He settled it in his usual expeditious manner by saying: 'Go to the children.  You are North American missionaries, not contemplatives.'

But Mother Amadeus, in her desire to establish the cloister saw no inconsistency, rather an opportunity to follow the rule of the monastic life more perfectly."

She and two others went to Quebec to observe how they were living the cloister and came back with many ideas to put in place in Toledo.

"By December 8, 1877, everything was ready for the establishment of the cloister. For some days before, visitors were allowed one last look at the parts of the house heretofore accessible.  As the number of schools continued to increase inconsistencies became apparent.  Those teaching in the outside schools could meet the pupil's parents without restriction of grates, while in the Convent even their own parents were separated from them.

The Bishop himself became impatient as the number of demands for outside affairs multiplied.  At one time he wrote, 'You will please not leave your convent, neither superior or others, except for the schools of Toledo, either going or coming, except with the permission of the Bishop... If you are cloistered then you are cloistered, if you are not, then cease to say you are.'

After twelve-years' trial the grates were removed in 1889, and time has proved the decision a wise one. Realizing that an active order could not sacrifice its apostolic work for an ideal,... the community removed the external aspects of enclosure in favor of keeping the spirit of cloister."

The material quoted here is taken from A Tree in the Valley by Sr. Lelia Mahoney.