Closing and Aftermath

A memo among Archbishop Leibold's papers titled "Good Shepherd Convent and School Cinn", dated March 30, 1970,  lists reasons for possibly closing the institution: 

  • They cannot make it on the $3 a day they get from County -- across the river they get $7.  It costs $9.50 per girl.  Their maximum is 90 girls (supposed to have one staff for every 14 girls)
  • They also have convent there of two parts -- the old cloistered Magdalines [sic] now called Holy Cross sisters and the regular Good Shepherd Sisters
  • They have closed their novitiate and combined it with others.
  • They have two or three prepostulants in house across the road (where Ruthman's housekeeper still lives).  They get an uncommitted chaplain service from the Jesuits
  • They intend to cut out the festival (25,000)
  • They would like to put their 94 acres of ground to better use
  • They would like a smaller place
  • They would like their chapel used as a diocesan parish church (I told her to look at Milford)
  • They have problems of building, staff and finances and different levels of disturbed girls ((Archdiocese of Cincinnati Archives, RG 01.007 Archbishop Leibold Papers 1969-1971, Religious Women, Box 14 of 32 , folder 2, Good Shepherd Sisters, Archbishop Leibold Transfer Files)

The following spring, Sr. M. Denise, R.G.S,  Local Superior, informed the Archbishop of the decision not to hold the annual festival that summer, instead exploring other means to augment their income for capital expenses and part of operational costs. A "Girls" Town Day" and car raffle at the Coney Island amusement park  took the place of the festival (Girls' Town Day at Coney Island,"  Hilltop News, August 26, 1971).  Later that year, the decision was made to close the institution. Sister Mary Clare, R.G.S., Provincial, wrote to Archbishop Leibold on September 30, 1971, "This will confrm our verbal request for Your Excellency's written authorization to go ahead with plans for the sale of the property and buildings situated here at the Provincial Convent (Girls Town) before submitting formal Petition to Rome...We have not had a recent survey but the land comprises approximately 82 acres.  The buildings are old but have been kept in good condition through the efforts of the Sisters, and the help afforded by our good friends in the local and surrounding civic communities…."  Leibold replied on October 7, 1971,  "This will confirm in writing our approval of your plans to endeavor to sell the property... We understand the practical problems of trying to maintain such an extensive plant for such few clients and Sisters.  Needless to say we would regret to loose [sic] the services and blessed presence of your good sisters, so I must confess a secret hope and prayer that we will be able to find a suitable smaller place in which to operate after you dispose of the big plant.  In any case, I will endorse your petition to sell after you get a reliable real estate approval." (Archdiocese of Cincinnati Archives, RG 01.007 Archbishop Leibold Papers 1969-1971,  Religious Women, Box 14 of 32 , folder 2, Good Shepherd Sisters, Archbishop Leibold Transfer Files))  

Two months later, the Post noted,  "The school is licensed to handle 60 girls, but presently has only 20.  There are 26 sisters in the provincial house at Girls Town.  About 8 work exclusively with the resident girls.  About 25,000 teenagers have been cared for by the sisters in over 114 years of local operation." ("Century-old Girls Town closing hilltop site," Cincinnati Post, November 5, 1971, 15.)