The Oregon Catholic Historical Society offers a tour of Jordan's historical sites Saturday, April 21. Artifacts and photos of a schismatic colony and Trappist Abbey will be on view. Participants may even follow the escape route of young women who wanted to leave the town to become nuns in the archdiocese. The tour will begin at the church hall at 11 a.m. For information, call (541) 367-4907.



JORDAN - In the 1880s, a schismatic group of German Catholics from Minnesota trekked westward, bearing the body of their ascetic pastor.

Scorning dancing and feminine vanity and all things worldly, the group arrived in Jordan, Oregon, and hoped to set up a colony as home for their beliefs.

With no Mass or charismatic leader, some in the group began to doubt the ambitious project. Some of the doubters were women who had entered a kind of sisterhood for the sect.

They sent an emissary to the Benedictines and Mount Angel, hoping for help.

The monks suggested that Archbishop William Gross pay the colony a visit. When he arrived, the archbishop set out terms for reconciling with the church.

The elders rejected the plan, but the young women stood up to accompany the archbishop. The women had to escape secretly and take refuge in a home.

Such is the colorful history here.

The women evolved into the community that became today's Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon.

Jordan also was the home briefly of a community of Trappist monks expelled from France by the government of Georges Clemenceau as 'useless drones.'

The monks made their way to Oregon in 1904 and bought a farm near Jordan. They built a lumber mill and began to fashion a monastery.

But fire and the high costs of hauling logs hampered the monks' projects. They even tried a dairy, but high interest on loans in the post Spanish-American War era left them in embarrassing debt.

The sawmill went up in flames.

In 1908 a Trappist superior visited and saw the debris of fire and financial struggle. A year later, the monks were ordered back to France. Some followed the order, but others became Benedictines, and still others became priests of the Archdiocese of Oregon City.

Source: Jesuit Father Wilfred Schoenberg's A History of the Catholic Church in the Pacific Northwest.