Benedictine Sisters

The Catholic order of the Bendedictine Sisters was the religious order that successfully initiated education for women at the Catholic University of America.  The Benedictine Sisters of Elizabeth, New Jersey moved into the Brooks Mansion between 9th and 10th Streets NE in Brookland in 1905.  In the convent, they founded St. Anthony’s Academy  for young children and, in, 1906 had 25 students; the tuition was $1 a month per child.  The Sisters also rented rooms to women to help them recover from abusive relationships and to regain their lives.  The Benedictine Sisters requested higher education from the Catholic Unversity of America in order to better educate the Brookland residents, and they were finally granted their request in 1911 when the University agreed to educate the Sisters during the summer at the Brooks Mansion.  Because the summer of Catholic University education had been a popular success, the University decided to found Sisters’ College at the Mansion and to educate the Sisters year round beginning that fall in 1911.  A portable building with a chapel was built in 1914 on the grounds of the Mansion to accomodate a growing number of Sisters enrolled at the College.  When women began to attend the Catholic University of America in 1928, Sisters’ College disappeared with the establishment of St. Anthony’s High School taking its place.  The Catholic University of America became the only co-educational institituion in Washington, DC at the time.  The Benedictine Sisters continued their services to Brookland residents at the Brooks Mansion until it was purchased by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority in 1970 to be used for the Metrorail System.  They moved St. Anthony’s High School to a new location in Brookland where they continue to serve the community today.

Further Reading:

Sister Cornelia Boyle, “Benedictine Sisters mark 75 years here, " Catholic Standard, Archdiocesian, D.C., 17 September 1981.

“Brooks Mansion -- Then and Now”, CUA Archives

Author: Tirzah O'Beirne

Date:  17 Nov. 2002


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