1 of 4
Edward Linsmier, Deseret Morning News
Sisters pray during a Friday evening prayer service at Mount Benedict Monastery in Ogden. Photo by Edward Linsmier, July 28 2006

OGDEN — An order of Roman Catholic nuns that moved to Ogden decades ago to build a hospital there confirmed plans to leave northern Utah after 68 years in the area.

Just five sisters remain at Mount Benedict Monastery in Ogden, about 30 miles north of Salt Lake City. They told the Standard-Examiner for a story Tuesday that they'll leave as soon as they sell their home.

The announcement marked the first confirmation of the sisters' plans to leave since they realigned themselves with St. Benedict's Monastery in St. Joseph, Minn., two years ago. One sister already has moved to Minnesota.

The order of sisters came to Ogden in 1944 with a mission of building a hospital, St. Benedict's. Two of the sisters remain employed at Ogden Regional Medical Center today, while the others serve the area as they can in other capacities.

The sisters made the announcement of their departure with emotion but with resolution that they are doing the right thing for themselves as they age.

"We leave with no regrets," Sister Stephanie Mongeon said. "We leave our peace and gratitude with the people of this community."

The $5 million in holdings from the sisters' St. Benedict's Foundation, which focuses on women and children, will be transferred to the United Way of Northern Utah and the Diocese of Salt Lake to be distributed over the next 10 years, according to Yvonne Coiner, the foundation's executive director.

Michael Joseph, a former foundation board member, touted the order for arriving during the "darkest days" of World War II and for bringing with them a holistic solution to medicine decades before it became popular.

A total of 155 sisters have served the order in Ogden over the years.

"They always bring their incredible, uplifting spiritual value," Joseph said. "There is no personal agenda with them."

Ron Thornburg, executive director at Family Counseling Service, said the contribution of the sisters through their foundation, which is geared toward helping women and children, has been invaluable.

"We've come to really appreciate the service the sisters have given to our community," he said, noting that for 16 years St. Benedict's Foundation has been the largest single donor to the agency.

"As a result, we've been able to have a major impact on the community," he said.