April 1, 2024 | Archives
Fr. Stephen Van Lal Than

A historic photograph of Mount Saint Joseph Academy girls, undated. COURTESY OF MSJ ARCHIVES

Mount Saint Joseph archives releases year-long video series to celebrate the Mount’s 150-year anniversary


Throughout this year, Mount Saint Joseph is celebrating its 150th anniversary. As a result, there are several special events and projects planned for the occasion. If you have ever read the tag at the end of these articles, you may have spotted that I am not only the archivist for the Diocese of Owensboro but also for the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph. This means that I am very much a part of these projects and events. The primary project I would like to cover in this article is for those interested in the history of the Mount and its Ursulines. Each month we are releasing a video that will cover roughly 10 to 15 years of the Mount’s history from 1874 through the present. The video series will be released the 15th of each month on the Mount’s Facebook page (facebook.com/ursulinesmsj), website (ursulinesmsj.org), and YouTube channel (youtube.com/user/ursulinesistersmsj).

The purpose of the video series is to bring to life the Mount’s incredible history utilizing its rich repository of historic holdings. There are tens of thousands of historic photographs as well as hundreds of hours of archived video and audio. Nearly every medium of information retention imaginable is held in the archives at the Mount. Reel to reel, glass slides, VHS, tin types, and countless others, all are held in the archives, each containing history unique to its own era. We will be endeavoring to utilize as many of these as possible for the series.

Coherency is the primary focus of this project. The videos will be short. They will range from roughly 3-4 minutes. They are rich with history but not bogged down with trivial information. You will be introduced to many key individuals of the Mount such as Fr. Paul Joseph Volk, Mother Augustine Bloemer, Mother Aloysius Willett, Mother Agnes O’Flynn and many others. These individuals are our very own local heroes and saints. If you’ve ever wanted to know more about the history of local Catholicism or even local history in general, these would be helpful.

The MSJ Ursulines’ role as a bedrock for Catholic education in western Kentucky cannot be overstated. Many, if not most, of you reading this, were likely taught by these Ursuline Sisters and I’m sure that many of you have fond memories of an Ursuline who had an incredibly positive effect on your life. We have already had people reach out and ask if we would be covering certain periods that they hold dear; if you are wondering the same thing, don’t worry, the answer is yes.

The story of the Ursulines at Mount Saint Joseph is truly an incredible one. At 150 years old, it is one of the oldest continuously-running institutions in the area. They have built schools, educated countless and brought thousands to Christ. Their contribution to the world is truly astounding. However, if you ask them, they will likely respond, it’s not too bad for a bunch of farm girls in little St. Joseph, Kentucky.

Edward Wilson is the director of the Diocese of Owensboro’s Archives and the Archives of the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph. Comments and questions may be sent to [email protected].

Originally printed in the April 2024 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.

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