Give Now

Terre Haute Nuns Look For New Revenue After Oil Deal Fails

The Sisters of Providence agreed to let CountryMark search for oil on their property, but the company did not find enough to start drilling.

Sisters of Providence Nun

Photo: Bill Shaw

A nun at Sisters of Providence of St. Mary of the Woods prunes a garden. Eco-justice is an important mission in the community.

A community of nuns in Terre Haute is searching for new ways to make up for the millions of dollars in health care costs they expect to incur as the sisters age.

The Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary of the Woods signed a deal last year allowing CountryMark to search for oil on their property. If the company began extracting oil, the nuns could have received part of the profits.

After scanning the ground, CountryMark did find oil but not enough to drill.

“We’re hoping that Providence sends us another source of income, but I think we’re glad it wasn’t oil,” Sister Denise Wilkinson, the general superior of the Sisters of Providence, who adds that the sisters were conflicted about allowing oil drilling on their land from the beginning.

The Sisters of Providence are known for their mission of eco-justice and the environmentally conscious way they maintain their 1,200 acres, which includes land dedicated to organic farming and raising alpacas.

The community will soon need several million dollars in additional revenue as many of its 350 sisters age and, therefore, need additional health care and have additional retirement costs.

The nunnery recently received a grant from the National Religious Retirement Office to hire a Wisconsin consulting firm that will explore alternative sources of revenue.

Revenue sources could include selling land or re-purposing buildings. Wilkinson says many sisters hope they could also expand their organic farming operations to become more profitable or use the woodlands to establish a land trust.

“But I think I personally don’t want to get too attached to any idea before I see the whole range of ideas that are out there,” Wilksonson says.

The consulting process is expected take about a year.

Gretchen Frazee

Gretchen Frazee is a reporter/producer for WFIU and WTIU news. Prior to her current role, Frazee worked as the associate online content coordinator for WFIU/WTIU. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia where she studied multimedia journalism and anthropology. You can follow her on Twitter @gretchenfrazee.

View all posts by this author »

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Indiana Public Media News:

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

Search News

Stay Connected

RSS e-mail itunes Facebook Twitter Flickr YouTube

Follow us on Twitter

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Indiana Public Media News:

Recent Business & Economy Stories

Recent Videos

Find Us on Facebook