by Patricia Erikson
The real estate agent took the Sisters to see the small stone chapel. The rest is history.
For the Aztecs, it was the prophecy of an eagle, perched on a prickly pear cactus and devouring a snake. For Brigham Young and the Latter Day Saints, it was a dream about a barren valley skirted with timber. For two Sisters of Mercy, it was two stained glass windows whose names mirrored their own.
Mexico City. Salt Lake City. The Saint Joseph’s College campus on Sebago Lake. All three locations are thought to have their location influenced by divine inspiration.
When College Archivist Sister Mary George O’Toole tells the story of how Saint Joseph’s College moved from its original home in Portland, Maine to the shore of Sebago Lake, the audience settles into their seats to enjoy a raconteur at work.
Sister Mary George in the Saint Joseph’s College Archives
As the local expert on College history, Sister Mary George makes sure her audience knows that Saint Joseph’s College, like many institutions, has varied its name over time. Originally established in Portland in 1912 as St. Joseph’s College & Academy–and known for a few years as College of Our Lady of Mercy–the College has remained “Saint Joseph’s” since 1956.
Sister Mary George sets the stage for her listeners, “In the mid 1950s, the college faced a challenge: it was squeezed into a small building on the grounds of the Sisters of Mercy Motherhouse, a location known for its striking, gold-domed brick building on Stevens Avenue in Portland. Looking far afield for ample real estate, Monsignor George Johnson suggested that he and two Sisters of Mercy–Mother Mary Evangelist and Mother Mary Edwina–travel to Standish to evaluate the gentleman’s estate of Harry M. Verrill as a potential site for relocation.”