The History of the Academy of the Sisters of Mercy
Bourbonnais (population 15,256) is located in northeastern Illinois in central Kankakee County, just north of Kankakee. The town was home to the Pottawatomi Indians, who were befriended by French explorer Robert Cavalier deLaSalle during an expedition in 1679, but it wasn’t until 1830 when Canadian fur trader Francois Bourbonnais established Bourbonnais Grove. Slowly but surely, more French-Canadians made their way to the area and settled. The community was incorporated in 1875.
Bourbonnais is approximately 15 miles west of the Indiana state border. The following roadways now lead to and from this busy metropolis: Interstate Highway 57, U.S. Route 45, Illinois Routes 17, 50, and 102. The Kankakee River flows to the west and south of town. The Illinois Central Gulf Railroad also has tracks which pass through town.
The Sisters of Mercy (who had only come to Illinois only six years earlier to set up several schools and convents within a short time) branched out to Bourbonnais in order to educate young ladies in the area,
About 90 students were enrolled after the school opened in the spring of 1852, as they learned from an order of nuns that was dedicated to teaching the fine points of life as well to live in a Christian manner.
However, the school closed in 1854 due to numerous difficulties, including the lack of room for boarding students as well as the amount of hard labor needed to educate the students and few privations given to the sisters for their efforts.
This was not the end of Catholic education in the Bourbonnais area, which was a stronghold to the French-Canadians who settled in Bourbonnais and in surrounding towns like Kankakee, St. Anne, and Irwin. Another school would form in 1860 when Notre Dame Academy would open its doors in Boubonnais and stay there until 1949.
FACTS ABOUT BOURBONNAIS ACADEMY OF THE SISTERS OF MERCY
Year opened: 1852
Year closed: 1854
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