Our Lady of Peace

For many years, Mother St. Cyril, Provincial of Canada, dreamed of opening a house in New York where the sisters travelling to and from Europe could interrupt their journey. In 1890, she received authorization from His Grace Archbishop Corrigan to open a convent.

One year later, because of an anti-religious law in France, many communities sought asylum in New York. Mother Cyril, who had been elected general, was informed that she should act quickly if she wished to establish a foundation in the city. She entrusted this undertaking to Mother Euphemia, a Canadian religious. Overcome by this responsibility, Mother Euphemia turned to prayer and had a dream of Our Lady of Peace who gave her courage.

In 1902, the Religious of Jesus and Mary arrived in New York to establish a free school for Spanish immigrants. They supported themselves by giving private lessons in French, music and art. They also took in boarders in a rented house on West 14th Street.

In 1904, at the request of the Jesuits, the sisters took charge of the Italian School of Loretto. In order to accept this work, the nuns had to give up the Spanish school at West 14th St. Thus, more space was available to receive boarders at the 14th St. property. After 15 years, the School of Loretto was entrusted to the Religious of St. Frances Cabrini.

The work of providing a comfortable home for girls in New York City was much needed, and God came to Mother St. Euphemia’s assistance. She received unexpected gifts which enabled her to acquire a neighboring property, to which she gave the name of “Our Lady of Peace.”

In 1909, Mother Euphemia purchased two houses on 15th St. facing the first residence. These were demolished and a large building with a beautiful chapel and 150 rooms was constructed.


St. John’s Kingsbridge

In August, 1903, the Religious of Jesus and Mary seized the opportunity to open a school in the Bronx. Mother Euphemia and Mother St. Ferdinand purchased a property from the Murray sisters. They renovated, repaired, cleaned and decorated the classrooms.

At the Sunday Mass on September 13th, the pastor of the parish, Father O’Dwyer, introduced the Religious of Jesus and Mary to the parishioners and announced the opening of school for the following day. On the 14th, 60 students attended the opening Mass for the school year.

The school was quickly filled to capacity; however, it suffered from a lack of financial resources. In 1916, Mother St. Adelaide, Superior, petitioned Cardinal Farley for assistance. His response resulted in an expansion of the facility that could now accommodate more than 700 students.

Highland Mills

During a visit to the United States, Reverend Mother St. Clare, Superior General, planned to buy property outside of New York City where a summer house could provide rest for the sisters, and perhaps later, an academy for young girls.

In 1911, the community purchased 125 acres in Highland Mills not far from the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains. In addition to a local community, a novitiate was established. A year later, financial difficulties prompted the sisters to close the house and the novitiate was transferred to Kingsbridge. The house at Highland Mills remained open during the summer months when the sisters of Our Lady of Peace came to enjoy the fresh country air.

Mother St. Clare never abandoned her dream of establishing a school in Highland Mills. Her dream was realized in July, 1914, when Mother St. John of God, Superior, opened a boarding school, Thevenet Hall.

After preliminary difficulties, the school flourished and was incorporated as a secondary school with the University of New York. The house was enlarged in 1919, and later again extended, and an additional wing was built for the beautiful chapel which was opened by His Eminence Cardinal Hayes in 1927.