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St. Angela Merici founded the Ursulines in 1535, nearly 500 years ago, in Brescia Italy. She named them for Saint Ursula, patroness of learning in the Middle Ages. Angela, born in Desenzano, Italy joined the Third Order Franciscans so as to be of service to her neighbors. When she moved to Brescia she gathered a group of local women around her to live outside the cloister and influence the young girls in her neighborhood because Angela believed that hope for the future rested in the hands of women.


Angela Merici founded the Company of St. Ursula in Brescia Italy


Pope Paul III approved the Company


Following the Council of Trent the Company became a monastic Order in Paris, France


First New World Foundation in Quebec


Ursulines established a foundation in New Orleans


Archbishop Purcell invited 11 Ursulines under the direction of Mother Julia Chatfield to come from Boulogne-sur Mer and Beaulieu, France to St. Martin in Brown County, Ohio to establish a school. The first three boarders arrived in October and classes were organized for local day students.


The community moved into the new four story structure built on property donated to the Archdiocese by General Lytle, near the seminary buildings and the local parish church. Eventually the church was moved to the center of the town of St. Martin.


A group of Sisters left to serve in Opelousas, LA. During the Civil War years the daughters of Generals from both the north and south attended the boarding school. This created such tension that the sisters forbad the girls to discuss the war. As Morgan’s men marched past the front gate the girls and nuns prayed in a blacked-out building that the raiders would pass by, leaving the necessary food and equipment undisturbed.


A group of Sisters opened St. Patrick School in London, Ohio.


Benn Pitman, famous woodcarver from Cincinnati, came to the convent to hold classes in woodcarving for the sisters and the students. Some of their carvings were used to decorate the chapel.


A group of Sisters left for Santa Rosa, California to begin a new foundation.


Sacred Heart Chapel was designed by Sister Eulalia Dunn. Workers from Cincinnati built the chapel with wood from the property and quarried the stone from the creek bed.


Ursuline Academy opened with 40 pupils as a day school in the city of Cincinnati.


Day classes moved to St. Martin Parish to become a Parish School. When the Parish School closed and joined the Public School System, the sisters remained as teachers and administrators until 1960.


Began weekend and summer religion classes that were taught in local parishes in Brown, Highland and Clinton Counties.


Summer Camp for girls ages 7-14 at Brown County campus was opened.


St. Vivian Parish in Finneytown sent some girls and boys to Ursuline Academy.


St. Vivian School opened in Finneytown with a faculty of two Ursulines and expanded considerably within a few years.


St. Louis School opened in Owensville, Ohio, with Ursulines as faculty and administration.


Between 1958 - 1986, we operated two-week summer religion programs for local parishes held on the Brown County campus.


St. Peter School in Huber Heights, Ohio opened with Ursuline faculty and administration. Two Sisters joined the Carroll High School Faculty in Dayton.


Ursuline Teacher Training Institute became Chatfield College and opened its doors to Glenmary Sisters, Franciscan Brothers and local lay students. Ugandan students, religious and lay, came to college and boarding school.


Sisters Miriam and Dorothy Thompson began a program to serve the local poor. When it outgrew available space on campus it was moved to Fayetteville. Eventually a piece of land with buildings already in place was purchased and the project became the the Hope Emergency Program serving the surrounding counties.


The Brown County Ursuline Boarding School closed and the original building was torn down. A new residence was built on campus and named Brescia after the city in Italy where Angela Merici established the Ursuline Order.


Cincinnati Branch of Chatfield College moved from Lower Price Hill to North Fairmont.


Cincinnati Branch of Chatfield College moved to Mercy/St. John near Findlay Market.


Sisters continue their ministry of education in Brown and the surrounding counties and throughout the greater Cincinnati area as well as in the diocese of Toledo. 


85.4 acres of farmland placed in a conservation easement held by Cardinal Land Conservancy.


We hope and expect that the heritage being passed on to Chatfield College and Ursuline Academy through our Legacy Agreement will be a source of direction and vitality for generations to come.

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The waterway was returned to its original configuration as Solomon’s Run through a grant from Ohio EPA which assisted in the removal of the Low-head Dam. Conservation easement is held by Brown County Ohio Soil and Water Conservation District.


The decision was made to sell the non-farm property to Chatfield College, which the Ursulines founded in 1971, effective July 1, 2017.

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In October an auction was held for the farmland that has been held in a conservation easement since 2010. Sold to an area farmer.


Celebration of the 175th Anniversary of the arrival of the Ursuline foundresses on July 21, 1845.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to push back our in-person celebration, but many celebrations were had over Zoom to commemorate this very important anniversary.

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Chatfield College transitioned from a two-year, private liberal arts college to a nonprofit agency focused on supporting postsecondary education attainment under a new name: The Chatfield Edge. This transition began in January 2023.


The Chatfield Edge provides education attainment services, academic scholarships, mentoring, and job readiness support to qualified first-generation and non-traditional students in Greater Cincinnati.


The Ursulines of Brown County are incredibly proud of the 51-years of educational programs provided by Chatfield College. Chatfield has always been and will remain a wonderful legacy of the Ursulines of Brown County, Ohio and Sr. Julia Chatfield, who traveled a long journey here to the United States to help others pursue quality education.


In commemoration of our foundresses' pioneering spirit, sacrifice, and service, the BCU Alumni Association wanted to celebrate the 175th anniversary and honor the Legacy of the Ursulines of Brown County in a special way. On September 17, 2021, the Ursulines of Brown County hosted a gathering for the dedication of an Ohio Historical Marker at St. Martin Campus. 


Through the dedication and support of former graduates and Chatfield College, an application was submitted to the Ohio History Connection in September of 2020, requesting that the Ursulines of Brown County be recognized for their contribution to Education in the Wilderness. In mid-November we received word that the Alumni Association was awarded a grant from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation to cover the cost of the Marker. The Marker establishes a permanent recognition for future generations to share the Ursuline history and legacy.

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