Victory Noll Campus
In 1925, the new Motherhouse for Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters opened in Huntington, Indiana. It was named Victory Noll to honor Archbishop John Francis Noll, founding editor of Our Sunday Visitor in Huntington, a beloved friend and benefactor, who provided much of the more than 150 acres of land and much of the needed funding for the Motherhouse. Drawing from OLVM’s initial missions in New Mexico, Spanish Mission-style was chosen for the buildings at Victory Noll. Through the collaboration of Archbishop Noll and a sizable donation by Julia and Peter O'Donnell, a retired policeman from Chicago, plans were made and ground broken in September, 1923 for the first building at Victory Noll. The main building was dedicated by Archbishop Noll on July 4, 1925. From this central house Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters have ministered across the United States.
The main building included the OLV Chapel with its specially-commissioned stained-glass windows that were handmade in Munich, Germany.
Victory Noll was added to the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Additional buildings were added over the years.
The St. Joseph Building and garage were added in 1937-38, providing additional residences and work rooms for the expanding congregation. Another residence, the Sacred Heart Building was added to the west in 1948-49. Archbishop Noll purchased a barracks from Fort Wayne’s Baer Field, had it dismantled and shipped to Huntington, where is was reassembled. Later, a brick facade was added.
As the Victory Noll Sisters aged and there was a need for a permanent health-care facility. In 1960, the Holy Family Building was finished, along with the Archbishop Noll Memorial Chapel. Renovations came in 1994, 1998 and 2006.
A bell tower was added and served as a gathering place, and the sound of the pealing bell signified the funeral of a Sister or to indicate a special moments of the congregation.
The OLVM Cemetery is located on the Victory Noll grounds. In addition to the graves of the Sisters, Archbishop Noll and Father Sigstein are also interred in the Cemetery.
The remainder of the grounds include undeveloped land. The western half of the land is forested area, containing many old-growth trees and native flora. The eastern side includes a small pond. Other areas once held various fruit trees and farmland that were harvested by the Sisters. In the last 25 years, however, these areas have been allowed to return to their natural states.
TIME OF TRANSITION AND NEW PARTNERSHIPS
With changing demographics and needs, the OLVM Sisters began to contemplate future care of the Victory Noll Sisters and the use of their land and buildings. They entered into multiple collaborations to address these needs.
SAINT ANNE COMMUNITIES
The first partnership came in 2016 when they formed a partnership with the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and Saint Anne Communities. An updated health care and residence facility was constructed and attached to the Holy Family Building. The new complex sold to the diocese, and Saint Anne's took over the health care and housing for many of the retired Sisters, in addition to providing resident care for a lay population under the new name of Saint Anne Communities at Victory Noll.
ACRES LAND TRUST
A second partnership was formed when the Sisters sold the undeveloped areas to ACRES Land Trust. In accordance with the OLVM Land Ethic and the Sisters’ commitment to the care of the earth, these areas will remain undeveloped in perpetuity.
This partnership came about in 2021.
With few Sisters living on campus and remaining buildings sitting mostly empty, the decision was made to sell the remaining buildings to an organization that would use them in a manner consistent to with the OLVM Charism. Months went by with no suitable buyer, so the Sisters made the emotional decision to deconstruct the buildings and let the land return to nature.
That situation changed when Huntington City Mayer Richard Strick, along with Huntington County Corrections, approached the Sisters with a plan to repurpose the buildings for a new program that serves as a rehabilitation facility for low-level drug offenders.
The sale of the remaining buildings was completed in April, 2022, and Huntington County began the process of converting the facilities to meet their program needs. To honor the legacy of OLVM, the new facility was renamed O’Donnell Center.
In addition, Huntington County Emergency Management also moved into the O’Donnell Center, and a new communications tower erected on the campus.
As part of the agreement with the county, the OLVM Sisters will maintain congregational offices and a few residence rooms in the St. Joseph Building.