Convent history, as told by a small hallway

By Jessica Ortiz

Have you ever been to the third floor of the convent? I am guessing that most of you who are reading this article have not. Do not worry, I was like you once. However, all that changed the day I moved in to the convent with 11 other residents.

One night, a few other residents and myself decided to explore behind a double door that connects our dormitory to a hallway. The hallways looked abandoned, with cabinets that appeared to be old lockers and rooms that looked like classrooms.

I was curious and determined to know what that hallway was all about. So I started my research. First, I mentioned to Michael Laney, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, what I saw the previous night and he stated that it could have been the high school. I did further investigating and made a visit to the Archives Office located in the convent. He was correct!

I had the pleasure to speak two wonderful sisters of Divine Providence, Sr. Charlotte Kitowski and Sr. Julian Honza. I must admit that the history of the university is simply breathtaking and interesting.

The convent started its curriculum for middle school, high school and a two-year college program for girls only. The dormitory where I live now used to be a dormitory for the girls who were in the process to become Sisters of the Congregation of Divine Providence.

“The school became where the sisters in college would take courses, [then] they would come to the Lake for classes and lived in Moye Hall for a number of years,” said Sr. Kitowski.

It wasn’t until the late 1940’s that the school was introduced to the boys’ military school. This was the time when the boys from St. Luis High School started taking classes in Moye Hall along with the girls.

“We had boys coming in taking English and Chemistry and our girls would go across and take some other classes. So it was a joint student council at this moment,” Sr. Kitowski said.

The institution was also a boarding school for students from Mexico who took classes in St. Martin Hall. These students stayed all through high school and college. Sister Julian Honza mentioned that, in 1968, there were a total of 70 girls who attended school in Moye Hall.

When asked what had happened to the high school, Sr. Kitowski said, “The high school faded out in the late 1960’s.”

However, today, OLLU continues as an institution of higher education for both females and males.

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