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Plans unveiled for Catholic Sisters’ Heritage Center in Cleveland

News of the Diocese

March 10, 2024

Plans unveiled for Catholic Sisters’ Heritage Center in Cleveland

The Women’s Religious Archives Collaborative will establish a Heritage Center in Cleveland to preserve and celebrate the unique histories and contributions of more than 35 congregations of Catholic sisters. It will be the first independent heritage center in the country for women religious.

The WRAC Heritage Center plans to open in 2025. It will offer public programming, exhibitions, meeting space and will be a place for research and remembrance.

The 30,000-square-foot facility will be constructed on a 1.5-acre parcel of land at 2490 E. 22nd St. in Cleveland’s Central neighborhood. WRAC purchased the property from St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, a sponsored ministry of the Sister of Charity Health System. The CSA congregation has had a presence in Cleveland since 1865, serving in many ministries including education and health care.

WRAC has secured archival and financial commitments from 35 congregations and a capital campaign is underway to generate additional funding for the project.

“As members of Catholic sisters’ congregations grow older and decline in number, hundreds of years of their histories are at risk of being lost,” said Ursuline Sister Susan Durkin, executive director of WRAC. “These women and their forbearers have made immeasurable contributions to our communities and our nation, as leaders in spiritual formation, education, health care, social service and justice efforts. The need to preserve their archival collections and the histories they represent for future generations has become increasingly urgent.”

WRAC is a nonprofit organization launched in 2022 after five years of planning. It is a Catholic sisters-led effort committed to ensure preservation of the sisters’ legacies. The group is working with Bostwick Design Partners and Regency Construction. Sister Durkin said the facility will be a dynamic space that will be open to the public for research and programming, both in person and virtually. In addition to being a vibrant local presence, its central location and website presence will facilitate visits from scholars, researchers and genealogists throughout the country, she added.

This joint undertaking would honor the past accomplishments of women religious while also inspiring future generations to think, dream and serve in response to the needs and challenges of their time, Sister Durkin said.

Among the congregations whose archives will be cared for in perpetuity by WRAC are the Carmelite Sisters of Cleveland; the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville; the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland; the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament; Sisters of the Precious Blood; Sisters of the Humility of Mary; the Ursuline Sisters of Cincinnati; the Loretto Community; Sisters of the Holy Spirit; Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis; Sisters of St. Francis; Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine; Sisters of St. Francis (Clinton, Iowa); and the Ursuline Sisters of Toledo, Ohio.

For more information on the project or WRAC, click here or contact sdurkin@archivescollaborative.org or call 216-287-5176. WRAC is located at 2475 E. 22nd St., Cleveland.

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