Sisters mark the beginning of the end

Sisters of Charity assembly votes not to take new sisters, wind down after 200 years


The Sisters of Charity of New York have started the process of winding down its 200+year-old sisterhood congregation after its delegates voted April 13 to begin a “path to completion.”

Essentially, the vote means the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul of New York will no longer accept new sister candidates. Considering that the last person to seek sisterhood was more than 20 years ago and the median age of the sisters is 82, that means the organization will most likely stop existing in the next two decades or so.

“The many ministries started by the Sisters of Charity will continue long after the Sisters are gone,” said James Rowe, director of communications for Sisters of Charity.

Among the many ministries and assets, including the convent on the campus of the College of Mount Saint Vincent, Rowe said they will continue operate separately as the transition starts. More importantly for Riverdale, the impact on Mount Saint Vincent will be minimal for now. The school will continue to operate but the convent and any other buildings associated with the Sisters of Charity will most likely close in the next decade or two, a Sisters official said.

A spokesperson from the college referred all questions about the impact on the college to the Sisters of Charity.

“The new leadership team that was just elected for 2023-2027 will oversee the Sisters of Charity’s mission and assets,” Rowe said.

After a long and prayerful discernment process delegates voted unanimously on April 13 to accept the following recommendations from their congregation’s executive council, according to an April 27 news release.:

Specifically, the Sisters of Charity will no longer work toward finding nor accepting new members to  Congregation, in the United States. “However, because we believe in the future of religious life, we will continue to promote vocations, and redirect inquiries to Federation congregations and/or to the Religious Formation Conference,” the release stated.

The council also asked the Assembly to affirm that Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul of New York “continue to live our mission to the fullest, while acknowledging that we are on a path to completion.

“The decision was not an easy one,” Rowe said. “Currently there are 154 Sisters of Charity of New York. We will continue to grow in love.  We will continue to deepen our relationships with each other, with our Associates and with our ministry partners. We will continue to deepen our relationship with our God.”

Rowe pointed out that other similar congregations are facing similar decisions as the demand for those women who want to become sisters continues to decrease.

Some alumni and partners with the Sisters of Charity offered their feelings of gratitude and sadness at the news on the Sisters website.

“God Bless each and every Sister of Charity of New York who inspired me to my vocation. Almighty God has a great plan for you dear Sisters. Be certain of my gratitude for all you will continue to do for the Mission of Charity among us. With great admiration and love, Brother David,” David Migliorino, class of 1963 Epiphany School, wrote on the Sisters website.

Another former student shared her experiences with the Sisters.

“It’s very sad. I had the Sisters of Charity in Incarnation Grammar School in Washington Heights & Blessed Sacrament High School, Manhattan,” Maureen Kelly Caunitz wrote on the website. “My experience with these wonderful women as teachers, caregivers and devoted woman of faith was a true blessing. Thank you for sharing yourselves with us.”

The Sisters of Charity also announced the delegates of Assembly 2023 elected Sister Donna Dodge as president and approved the appointment of Sister Margaret O’Brien as first assistant to the president, and Sister Mary Mc Cormick as second assistant to the president, for a term of four years, 2023 to 2027.

Sisters of Charity, College of Mount Saint Vincent, James Rowe, path to completion