The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament recently made the announcement to sell their 2,200 acre property in Powhatan, Virginia. The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament had been restoring the property and offering new ministries over the past ten years after establishing their 501c3 non-profit called Francis-Emma, Inc. In April, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in Philadelphia, made a decision to sell the property and dissolve the Francis-Emma, Inc., in addition to selling their Mother House in Bensalem, PA. This news came as a complete surprise to the Board of Francis-Emma, Inc., who organized a press conference on Saturday, May 14th at Belmead.
Press Conference — Belmead/St. Francis de Sales/St. Emma in Peril
The former Board of Directors of Francis-Emma, Inc., Jennie Shuklis, called the community, alumni, and press to ask for a call to action to help save this Sacred American site. This amazing piece of land holds the American History of Native Americans, African-Americans during slavery and The Civil War, the sacred site of Saint Katherine Drexel’s first schools, a rich ecology, and now home to a museum, preschool, and many ministries serving the community. The sisters also lease to local businesses which include a very active stable and riding clubs for horses.
Many people came to support the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and Francis-Emma, Inc. to see if there is a way forward to change the decision of the sale, and find a new solution to save the Belmead property. An online petition has been organized and urge you to sign this petition being made to the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. At this time, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament will be at the site and continuing to run their ministries until December 2016, and they currently do not know of future plans for the land or buildings.
NOTE: Francis-Emma, Inc. has been dissolved and not currently able to take donations.
Please also read my two previous stories about Francis-Emma and the new museum, and I urge you to visit this wonderful treasure of our church.
You can write to the Leadership Team of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament to let them know what impact Belmead’s loss will have:
Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament
1663 Bristol Pike
Bensalem, PA 19020
New Museum at Belmead – the spirit of St. Katharine Drexel lives on (John Clem, O.F.S. – Call To Holiness)
Saving an American Sacred Site of St. Katharine Drexel + NEW Museum (John Clem, O.F.S. – Call To Holiness)
Belmead’s history must be preserved (Richmond Times Dispatch)
Former students, preservationists fight to save historic Belmead Mansion (CBS6 – Richmond)
Hundreds Rally to Save Historic Powhatan Property (ABC8 – Richmond)
MAPS of Belmead — Francis-Emma property
Trail Map of Belmead — 30 miles of walking and riding trails
Historical Sites at Belmead