Saint Gertrude Monastery
The Ridgely Benedictines originated from Germany in1852 when the first three Benedictine nuns arrived in America and settled in St. Mary's, PA. In 1857 six sisters travelled to Newark, NJ to teach in St. Mary's Parish School and in 1859 they became an independent monastery.
Then in 1887, under the second elected prioress of the Newark community, Mother Dolorosa Berg, the Monastery was transferred from Newark, NJ to "the Plains" near Ridgely, MD in Caroline County. St. Gertrude's Academy was opened on the monastery grounds soon after the sisters arrived - starting the long tradition of wanting to teach young people.
The sisters continued to teach in Newark, NJ and expanded their teaching to several schools in the Wilmington and Rehoboth Beach, DE areas.
In 1959, as the need for special education increased, St. Gertrude's Academy was phased out and The Benedictine School for Exceptional Children was started in the academy building. By 1964, a new school was built and was followed by the Habilitation Center and the Open Community Program. Today these programs are called the Benedictine Programs and Services which encompass many other programs.
After Vatican II, the sisters, responding to the needs of the times, pursued ministries in nursing, social work, counseling, and library work.
In 1982, under the patronage of St. Martin DePorres, several sisters began collecting and distributing food, clothing, and other necessities to the poor of the area, and this was the beginning of St. Martin's Barn. Then in 1993, St. Martin's House was opened as a transitional residence for homeless women and children. These ministries are still very active on the grounds.
As the number of sisters decreased, it became obvious that we could no longer maintain the existing ministries or the upkeep of the monastery. So in 2013, the monastery, the Benedictine School, and the outlying buildings were sold to the Benedictine School.
We then began looking in earnest for property in the DE area that would be close to a church and health care. A Refounding Committee was established and we hired an architect. After exploring the possibility of using an existing building, it became clear that to build was our only option. We were very blessed in locating 3 ½ acres of land on the parish grounds of Holy Family Parish in Newark, DE. It took many meetings, several roadblocks, and many prayers until we were able to begin building a new monastery, which will be completed in 2018. It is very providential that we began our roots in Newark, NJ and will now reside in Newark, DE.
After establishing ourselves in Newark, DE our primary ministries will be communal prayer and hospitality. This is a very exciting time for us because we will be exploring many options for our future. We hope to open our monastery doors to our neighbors, family, friends, and anyone seeking to share our Benedictine way of life.