For about 75 years, the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration have called the monastery at 800 N. Country Club Road home.
But no more.
This past weekend, the sisters announced to volunteers, benefactors and other friends that the monastery will shut its doors within the next two years.
“It was a difficult decision to come to, but it has to do with basically a fewer number of sisters today and the fact that everyone is aging,” said Sister Joan Ridley, superior of the Tucson Monastery. “We don’t have many newer members, so we want to regroup forces and consolidate sisters in one spot.”
The 16 Tucson sisters are part of a larger congregation based in Clyde, Missouri. Including the Tucson nuns, there are about 65 sisters, Ridley said.
Leadership at both sites has worked toward this decision for about a year with the hope that consolidation will revitalize the aging order.
The decision is still too new for the sisters to say for sure whether all will leave Tucson for Clyde. Some of the nuns have lived here for about 25 years, Ridley said.
Stay or go, they will all have to develop a few new habits. The sisters plan to sell the property, which is about 7 acres between East Speedway and East Fifth Street.
“We may be in touch with some other national Catholic organizations that purchase property and convert it to senior housing or things like that,” Ridley said. “Our first desire is that it would be used for the good of seniors and stay within the religious tradition.”
The Tucson convent’s history as documented on its website begins in 1935 with an invitation from Diocese of Tucson Bishop Daniel Gercke to the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. Until the completion of the Tucson Monastery in 1940, the sisters lived in the Steinfeld Mansion , 300 N. Main Ave. Architect Roy Place designed the current monastery.
“The Benedictine Sisters have been a blessing and gift in our community since 1935,” said Bishop Gerald Kicanas of the Diocese of Tucson in a prepared statement. “They have held us in prayer and opened their home to us all. … They cannot imagine the impact they have had on us, not just as Catholics but all in our community.”
Valencia orange and date palm trees dot the property, along with an ancient avocado tree that Ridley suspects is one of the oldest in Tucson.
The sisters sell soaps, salves and lotions and make liturgical vestments, or clothing.
Every day, the monastery holds four services in its chapel, along with Mass on Sunday.
“We’re very sad,” Ridley said. “It’s a real loss to the city of Tucson and the people that we have grown to love and who love us.”