A Welcome Message
From the Provincial Superior Sister Joann Sosler, OSBM
Welcome to the web pages of the Sisters of the Order of Saint Basil the Great! Take a virtual tour of our Monastery grounds and learn something about us as you view this website. May your visit inspire you to visit us in person. You will be most welcome!
Drive down the stretch of Fox Chase Road from Forrest Avenue to Cedar Road in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, and you will see a complex of buildings nestled among the trees. A carved wooden sign with gilt letters marks the entrance to a tree-lined driveway leading to an imposing stone building that is the Motherhouse of the Sisters of the Order of Saint Basil the Great, 710 Fox Chase Road. Peer through the foliage and you will see the statue of Saint Basil the Great welcoming you to the Sisters’ Motherhouse.
The property of the Sisters is located in the Hollywood section of Abington Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, just northwest of Philadelphia and is considered part of the Philadelphia Metropolitan Area. The property lies in a predominately suburban residential area near the township’s Alverthorpe Park and is situated approximately 11 miles north of Center City Philadelphia.
The Sisters acquired the property in five separate transactions from January 1931 through February 1951. The owner of the first tract of land purchased was Abel Satterthwaite. This tract comprised 40 acres of property – subsequent purchases increased the acreage to 135. Mr. Satterthwaite, born on April 15, 1822, was the first vice president and treasurer of what was known as Abington Savings Bank. He was married to Susan Claypool, the daughter of Elizabeth Griscom and Ross Ashburn Claypool – the woman most of us know as Betsy Ross. Betsy used to travel back and forth from her home in Philadelphia to visit her daughter Susan. After she retired she moved to Abington in 1827 and lived with her daughter on the Satterthwaite property (St. Macrina Hall or what is fondly called the “Yellow House”). Built in 1816, this building was the first Motherhouse. It was later used as the chaplain’s residence, as the original Manor College, and finally as the first Novitiate. In the following decades, the property was developed to accommodate the needs of the Sisters and the community they served.
The new Monastery was built in 1930 and dedicated in 1931 to house the growing community of postulants, novices and sisters. In gratitude for this new site for the Monastery Mother Josaphat Theodorovych built a Grotto, dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, over a small springhouse where the waters of five underground springs converged. This is the focal point of the annual pilgrimages to the Mother of God.
Eventually, St. Basil Academy, an all-girl private academy was built on the northeast side of Fox Chase Road. St. Basil Academy opened its doors in 1931 as a convent boarding school for girls. At that time, enrollment totaled ten students. Eventually, day students were admitted; today the academy is a college preparatory school providing an excellent environment and diversified curriculum.
Manor College was founded in 1947 with the first classes held in the old farm house on the Fox Chase property. The college, which opened with a student body of eleven young women, now has an enrollment of over 500 students. Over the years, Manor expanded its facilities to include dormitories and a library. In 1977, an on-campus Ukrainian Heritage Studies Center with the goal of fostering an awareness of Ukrainian heritage and culture was established.
In 2000, the millennium year, the Sisters consecrated their new Holy Trinity Chapel and Basilian Spirituality Center. The contemporary design of the chapel draws its inspiration from the traditional Ukrainian village church of the eighteen and nineteenth centuries. It has a prominent roofline and three towers that reinforce the eclectic elements of the traditional churches. The interior of the chapel with its many icons provides a unique space for liturgical worship, reflection, and prayer. The Spirituality Center has a prayer room and ample space for spiritual programs, prayer groups, lectures, and workshops. The Holy Trinity Chapel and the Spirituality Center both exude the atmosphere of genuine Basilian hospitality to those desiring to deepen their relationship with God.
The Sisters are environmentally sensitive to the property’s wild life, trees, and waterways. The entire property is surrounded by a large wooded area; a creek runs through it, adding a pleasant touch to the pastoral setting, which is conducive to nature walks and reflections on God’s creation.
We respond to the needs of God’s people today, embodying the welcoming presence of the Lord. We lead uniquely effective and innovative ministries in education, spiritual direction, evangelization and lay collaboration. In all that we do, we bring the rich traditions and mysteries of the Eastern Christian Church to those we encounter.