|Belleville Holy Spirit Ursuline Aspirancy School
|Ursuline Convent Had 6 Bldgs. Corner of Lebanon & Douglas Streets, This Building Held H.S. Classes
The History of Belleville Holy Spirit Ursuline Aspirancy High School
Belleville (population 41,410) is located in southeastern Illinois about 12 miles southeast of East
St. Louis in the center of St. Clair County. The Illinois Routes of 13, 15, 158, 159, and 161 all pass through the town
of Belleville. Interstate Highway 64 passes to the north of town.The Norfolk Southern and Illinois Central Gulf are two of
the railroads that pass through Belleville. The Richland Creek flows through town as well.
Our good friend and avid historian, Michael M., provided
the following information on Belleville Holy Spirit Ursuline Aspirancy High School:
"The presence of Holy Spirit
Ursuline Aspirancy High School in Belleville, Illinois, from 1949 to 1966,
went largely unnoticed by many, yet it equipped its students with a solid education and moral formation that would serve them
throughout life. In many cases, it also established bonds of friendship that
would endure for a lifetime.
Located at 1026 N. Douglas, Holy Spirit was a convent aspirancy for high school girls who wished to become members of
the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Calvary, a German-based international Order of nun-educators.
The Douglas Hill location also served as this Order’s American motherhouse.
Since the aspirants (students), being of high school age, were actually too young become nuns, they would reside in
a section of the convent complex assigned to them during the school term and return to their families for weekends and vacation
The Ursuline Sisters
operated several other schools in the area, including the Catholic parish schools of Queen of Peace, Belleville;
St. Henry, East St. Louis; St. Regis, East St. Louis; and the
parish schools in the nearby Illinois towns of Millstadt, Mascoutah, Fairmont
City, Mounds and Bonnots Mill,
Missouri. They also taught at several
grade and high schools in North Dakota. In addition, Sisters of this Order were on the faculties of Cathedral
Boys High School in Belleville
and later at Althoff High School
(when it replaced Cathedral Boys High) and for a short time at Mater Dei High School, Breese.
Despite all of this academic expertise and the sophisticated credentials of the Ursuline nuns who taught at the
Aspirancy, the convent never sought to establish Holy Spirit Aspirancy as an independent high school in its own right. At the official level, the Aspirancy was recognized as an extension campus of Notre Dame Academy, a girls’ Catholic high on the
west side of Belleville operated by the School Sisters of
Notre Dame. This was a fine example of the collaboration that existed between
the various Orders of nuns at that time.
Because the enrollment
was always small, the faculty was never large, and even included some Sisters who were able to teach a course or two while
engaged in other assignments. Among the various Sisters who taught at the Aspirancy
during the years of its existence, perhaps those most readily identified with it were Sister Emily, Sister Clementia,
Sister Mary Rose, Sister Angelita, Sister Marie, Sister Anne Marie, Sister Marie Therese, Sister Donna Marie,
and Sister Mariella. The Aspirancy closed in 1966 and in 2005
the Belleville Ursuline Sisters’ Congregation merged into the larger congregation of Ursuline Sisters of Mt. St. Joseph,
Kentucky. The former convent complex on Douglas
is now for sale."
These two nuns (pictured above) served
as the Mother Superior of the American Branch of the
Ursuline Order during the years that the Aspirancy was in operation. Left,
Mother Mary Barbara (who was later known as Sister Estelle Jacoby) was the
Superior when the Aspirancy was opened. After many years in that position,
after a short interim period, she resumed office and ultimately, closed the
Aspirancy. Right, Mother Mary Constance (later, Sister Mary Constance) served
as the Mother Superior during the interim between Mother Mary Barbara's two
mandates in office.
Holy Spirit Ursuline Aspirancy
High School Quick Facts
Sports likely not offered
|Sister Mary Agnes