Father John Joseph Sigstein, a Chicago Catholic priest, organized a group of women desiring to become missionaries into a religious community known as Missionary Catechists in 1922. These women ministered to the poor, brought them the good news of Christ and helped them meet the needs of those they ministered to. The first two members were Julia Doyle and Marie Benes, sent to New Mexico in 1922 with a ministry that continues today.
Our Sunday Visitor founder and editor of that day, Reverend John Francis Noll, D.D, observed the development of this venture and saw the need for a central house for the newly formed missionary group. Toward this aim, Father Noll donated a wooded area of 150 acres, a mile and a quarter west of downtown Huntington, and a layman of Long Beach, California, Peter O’Donnell, contributed $100,000 toward the project. Ground was broken for the first building in September 1923. A Spanish Missionary Style architecture was chosen as the Missionary Sisters had begun their services as Catechists in New Mexico.
Seven Sisters moved in to what became known as Victory Noll, 1900 W. Park Drive, on December 7, 1924. It was dedicated on July 5, 1925, and it is recorded that the event was attended by 7,000 people. Victory Noll became the motherhouse or central house of the Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters, a religious community of women in the Catholic Church. Our Lady of Victory is the name of a famous shrine in Paris, France dedicated to Mary, the Mother or God. The “Noll” honors Father Noll. The Our Lady of Victory Chapel in the center of the original building opened December 8, 1924.
Victory Noll’s second building was constructed in 1936-37, and connects to the original structure by a breezeway. The new addition included a garage and rooms for office and printing work with a second floor living quarters. The third structure was added in 1947 when Father Noll obtained barracks from Baer Field, a post war assets building. It was attached to the west of the main building. A health care structure and Archbishop Noll Memorial Chapel were erected in 1960-61.
Victory Noll is not only a beautiful spot in our community but is also a symbol of dedication and service to the poor and oppressed for the love of Jesus. The Missionary Sisters have been sent out from Victory Noll over the years to a variety of fields with a three-fold ministry of religious education, social services and health care. As the Sisters age their ministry focuses on prayer, presence and a refocusing of the property for community use.
The Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters announced on June 6, 2017 that 107 acres of prairie and forest land at the motherhouse were sold to Acres Land Trust. This would ensure that the land enjoyed by the Missionary Sisters for recreation, solace and prayer would be forever preserved from development. The property is on the top of a bluff overlooking the Wabash River valley, with the edge of the bluff forming the original bank of the river, first carved out by the rushing waters of a melting glacier.
A collaboration with Saint Anne Communities for health care began with a brand new building on the property, connected to the chapel, dedicated in July 2017. Residents enjoy a person-centered care approach focusing on the individual as a whole rather than focusing only on one’s illness or inability. Their mission encourages respect for one’s preferences, values, family situation and social circumstances through a team-approach to care. The resident, their family and the Saint Anne Victory Noll team work together to provide a loving and high quality plan of care for independent living, assisted living and rehabilitation services.
Officially transferred to Huntington County, April 23, 2021, The Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters also worked with local officials to repurpose part of the Victory Noll campus to host the O’Donnell Center, offices for both Huntington County Community Corrections and the Emergency Management Agency, operations for the combined city-county Public Safety Dispatch and a Parkview Behavioral Health Institute Park Center treatment center.
The O’Donnell Center at Victory Noll houses a restorative work release program that accommodates the residents under a Huntington County Community Corrections alternative sentencing initiative in collaboration with the Huntington County Drug Court. Through a partnership with Parkview Behavioral Health Institute Park Center, residents at the O’Donnell Center receive meaningful care, on-site addictions recovery counseling and comprehensive mental health services in a 24-hour per day, 365-day per year setting.