Through the Years
Through the years the school has felt the blow of hard economic times which resulted in low enrollment. With financial recovery came growing enrollment and the necessity for more space. Through all the moves and life changes one thing has always remained the same—Ursuline Academy’s mission and vision for educating young women. Here is how it began:
Ursuline Academy was a seed sown in 1474 when Angela Merici was born in Desenzano, a small town in northern Italy. Early in her life Angela had a direct indication from the Holy Spirit that she would found, in Brescia, a company of women consecrated to the Lord. Angela established the Ursulines in 1535. It was the first non-cloistered community of women in the history of the church, and the first religious community for women begun by a woman. Inspired by Gospel challenges, Angela and her followers reached out to rich and poor alike with special concern for the development of a strong family life. A true educator, Angela empowered people to reach their full potential and to use their skills in service.
From their foundation in Italy, Ursuline communities were established all over Europe. They came to the "New World" via Canada in 1639. Ursulines established the very first religious community of women in the United States in New Orleans in 1727.
The Ursulines of Brown County were founded by another woman of vision and faith, Julia Chatfield. As an Ursuline of Bologne-sur-mer, her pioneer spirit enticed her to accept the invitation of Bishop John Purcell to come to the newly formed Cincinnati diocese in 1845. The Ursulines of Bologne-sur-mer and Beaulieu joined forces and sent Julia Chatfield and ten other nuns to St. Martin where the diocese had built a seminary and established a parish. The seminary was being moved back to Cincinnati and the sisters were given 400 acres of land to be used for educational purposes.
Sister Julia Chatfield became Ohio’s “pioneer nun” whose determination to establish education in the wilderness endures after 165 years. She was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame on June 5, 2001 in recognition of the accomplishments she achieved:
- In 1845 Sr. Julia answered a call to come to Ohio from France;
- Sr. Julia founded the Ursulines of Brown County in Ohio, a congregation of women religious that endures today;
- Sr. Julia established a resident school for young women incorporated in 1846 under the title St. Ursula Literary Institute. After 135 years, the school closed in 1981;
- Sr. Julia instilled her determination to promote education into her successors; for example:
- 1896 – establishment of Ursuline Academy of Cincinnati, a college preparatory school for young women;
- 1940s – Ursuline Sisters’ participation in elementary and secondary education in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and beyond, in higher education, and adult education;
- 1971 – Chatfield College – St. Martin and Cincinnati campuses serving Appalachian and inner city populations.
The Ohio Memory project has a great section on the Ursulines. To get to the Ursulines click on explore, then contributing institutions, and then Ursulines. When you click on the pictures, text appears to further explain them.
Fifty-one years later, in 1896, it was decided, in keeping with the changing times, that a second school should be established in Cincinnati, a day school for students from first through twelfth grades. In 1905, because the original building was already outgrown, the school was moved to Oak and Reading Roads, to be expanded in 1928 to accommodate an ever-increasing student population. In 1963 the decision was made to eliminate the grade school and concentrate on the secondary level. In 1970, space again being a crucial factor, the move was made to the current location in Blue Ash.