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St. Mary’s convent closing; relics to be sold

A gentle and caring chapter of Port Arthur’s history has closed, and with the ending a convent full of religious artifacts and household furnishings are to be sold at an estate sale this weekend.

On Oct. 20 Sisters Aloysius Mannion and Maryann Shanahan officially retired from active ministry at Christus Hospital – St. Mary. The Sisters were the last two of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word serving at the hospital which first opened in 1930.

Since their leaving, the 35-room convent on the grounds of the hospital closed. At this time, no other Sisters are scheduled to replace the pair, and the hospital has announced plans to close the  convent.

“There are no other Sisters available for active ministry now,” Linda Macdonald, director of communications with the Congregation, said in a telephone interview Thursday.

Though the convent was staffed by the Congregation, the building is owned by the hospital system. Contents of the convent will be sold at an Estate Sale from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday, at Christus Hospital, 3600 Gates Blvd., Port Arthur.

Proceeds from the sale will benefit the Congregation.

Macdonald said the 160 Sisters actively serving in the Congregation are stretched thin, over five countries in varying capacities.

“The Congregation has remained true to its founding call, but to do so, has had to evolve to meet the needs of the people,” Macdonald said.

The Sisters, she said, are still doing hospital work, but in different roles.

Greg Hale, spokesperson for Christus Hospital – St. Mary, said the convent has closed, but hospital officials are still hopeful other Sisters will be assigned to Port Arthur.

If so, likely they will be housed in an apartment, or in private housing.

“Most of our hospitals don’t maintain convents any longer,” Hale said in a telephone interview Thursday. “Ideally, we are hopeful we will have representatives from Sisters of Charity of Incarnate Word on the St. Mary Campus again.”

In the meantime, the numerous religious artifacts and household furnishings housed in the convent will be sold.

Though used by the healing hands of Sisters for decades, Macdonald said neither the items or the convent should be representative of the Sisters’ ministry at St. Mary’s.

“The ministry of the Sisters is more than bricks and mortar, more  than a chair or a coffee table. It is about caring for people who are suffering,” Macdonald said.

skoonce@panews.com