[Update] Good Counsel Academy High School Continues to Operate Pending Sale of Property

The 16-acre campus at 52 North Broadway is adjacent to the White Plains commercial center and includes 12 buildings comprising 162,180 square feet.

The landmark Chapel of the Divine Compassion on North Broadway in White Plains. Photo credit: Sisters of the Divine Compassion
The landmark Chapel of the Divine Compassion on North Broadway in White Plains. Photo credit: Sisters of the Divine Compassion
Update, 7:25 p.m. Saturday, May 31, 2014: Good Counsel Academy High School, which is located at the North Broadway property that the Sisters of the Divine Compassion is seeking to sell, released a statement Saturday that the school is continuing to operate and is at full capacity.

Below is the school's statement:

In light of the recent announcement of the Sisters of the Divine Compassion “that they are exploring the sale of a portion or all of the property” at 52 North Broadway, Good Counsel Academy High School reaffirms that it is open and at full capacity.

Good Counsel enrolls 400+ students, proudly graduates 73 Seniors next week and prepares to welcome 90 Freshmen in the Fall. Sr. Laura Donovan, Principal, states “Good Counsel Academy is a vibrant girls’ high school alive in mission with 400+ students. We will continue to operate a full academic and extracurricular program.”

Sr. Imma De Stefanis, Board President said, “Good Counsel Academy retained the services of CBRE realtors to assist in identifying potential future locations for Good Counsel Academy High School should the need arise beyond the 2014-2015 academic year. Our commitment to educating confident women and compassionate leaders for the 21st century stands firm.”

Original story: The Sisters of the Divine Compassion, which owns a 16-acre campus in White Plains, announced Friday that it had retained CBRE Group Inc. to help it sell some or all of the North Broadway property.

The religious group, which had tried for years to renovate the property, had been at the site for 124 years.

Among other things, the group operates schools on the property, for which it is looking at alternative locations.

Below is the full press release announcing the pending sale:

Following a ten-year, in-depth strategic planning process and a two-year review of the future of its 16-acre Good Counsel campus in White Plains, the Sisters of the Divine Compassion said today that they are exploring the sale of all or a portion of the property. They have retained the world’s largest real estate services and investment firm, CBRE Group Inc., to determine interest in the property and to market it.


The campus at 52 North Broadway is adjacent to the White Plains commercial center and includes 12 buildings comprising 162,180 square feet. Among the buildings are the Roman Catholic order’s Motherhouse, which today also serves as a convent, administrative offices, and a spirituality and conference center. The site also includes the Good Counsel Academy Elementary and High Schools, the RDC Counseling Center, and the Chapel of the Divine Compassion.


“We have been blessed to be the stewards of this wonderful property for 124 years,” said Sister Carol Wagner, RDC, President of the Sisters of the Divine Compassion, “and our mission and ministries throughout the region emanate from here. At the same time, to assure that we continue our mission and that we are able to provide for the Sisters particularly in their later years, upon careful reflection and thorough analysis we are actively researching and exploring the possible sale of the property.”


She said that the future of the Good Counsel Schools is a particular concern.  The schools have a long history of academic excellence, graduating young women and children who later in their careers serve in their professions locally and globally as leaders and agents of compassion and change in the world.  Both schools have outgrown the existing facilities on the campus. The Board of Trustees and administration of the schools, who report to the Sisters, are exploring various options and potential locations for the schools.  While the Sisters of the Divine Compassion serve within the Archdiocese of New York, the Good Counsel Schools are independent and are owned and operated by the Sisters.  Currently, there are 400 students attending Good Counsel High School, and 160 students enrolled at Good Counsel Elementary.


In addition to 75 Associates and Companions of the Divine Compassion, there are 82 Sisters of the Divine Compassion who live and minister throughout the Northeast United States, from Tennessee to New England.  Twenty-four sisters live on the motherhouse campus, and 58 live in other convents near where they are in ministry.


While widely known for the schools they operate in White Plains, the ministries of the Sisters of the Divine Compassion in Westchester are extensive, diverse and widespread.  The Sisters have been educators, administrators, social workers, counselors, religious education teachers, healthcare professionals and pastoral care ministers at more than 40 schools, parishes and agencies across Westchester.  


CBRE is serving as the exclusive real estate agent for the property. The CBRE team is headed by William Cuddy, Executive Vice President.  A resident of White Plains, he is fully familiar with the unique nature of the campus.  “This is a significant and iconic property,” he said.  “Because of its strategic location and its in-place infrastructure, it provides the perfect investment opportunity for a real estate investor or an academic institution.  Our initial marketing outreach will gauge the level and type of interest there is in the property, an essential step for the Sisters to be able to explore options and strategically plan for the future.”


Sister Carol said:  "We recognize that for us to continue to serve the needs of so many and to preserve our mission, we must explore paths that while difficult are necessary." She said the Congregation has been working with a group of local planning, real estate and business professionals.  “We are very fortunate to have a team of expert professionals who understand our mission and are committed to our future, as we formulate strategies and plans to move forward.”


   About Sisters of the Divine Compassion


The founding mission of the Sisters of the Divine Compassion began in 1870, when Mary Starr (later Mother Mary Veronica) opened the House of the Holy Family in lower Manhattan.  Abandoned and abused young girls living in poverty on the streets of NYC were welcomed into a family- like setting which provided compassion and empowerment, education, healing and love, helping the girls to heal and grow, and move on into independent and productive lives. 


In 1886, the Sisters of the Divine Compassion Religious Institute was founded to support and continue the Mission of Compassion into the future.  After purchasing property in White Plains in 1890, the Sisters continued to expand the Divine Compassion mission and responded to the needs of the growing Catholic population, founding and staffing Catholic schools in Manhattan, the Bronx, Westchester and other northern counties throughout the NY Archdiocese.  Good Counsel Elementary and High School, as well as Good Counsel College/the College of White Plains (which merged with Pace in 1977), were formed on the Sisters’ White Plains campus. 


During the 1960s, the RDCs embraced the spirit and mandates of Vatican II and opened their hearts and homes to expand their mission into social service, parish ministry, immigration, health care, counseling, and bereavement services, offering spirituality programs and new opportunities for lay women and men to become involved as associates and companions of the Divine Compassion.  Additional sponsored ministries include: the Divine Compassion Spirituality Center, the RDC Counseling Center, Preston High School and Preston Center of Compassion in the Bronx, Mustard Seed Migrant Ministry in Goshen and the Center of Compassion in Dover Plains, NY.

Paula June 01, 2014 at 08:27 AM
One of the social networks had a comment that the reason they are looking into selling is to be able to have more capacity. I would like one of the Sisters that updated the story to also say the reason for looking into other locations. Would it need to hold more students or fewer students..or maybe it is for more or less services that the Sisters of the Divine Compassion. I love the campus as it is and the work that they do over there and hope the need is because they need to grow...that would be great, but hard to believe in these hard economic times. If they did move for good reason, I would be happy for them, but think it would be a great opportunity to shuffle the plans and intentions for the French School over to that location...they already have the classes built for it and a beautiful campus.
Laura H June 01, 2014 at 09:13 AM
If Good Counsel wants to expand they should do it on their own historical grounds. There is plenty of land. I don't believe they could find a place more beautiful and serene. Westchester developers would love to get their hands on this place. And what happens to the church? Selling is just a bad, bad idea.
Paula June 01, 2014 at 09:17 AM
I am not happy about their selling and/or it becoming overdeveloped, but it would take the pain off of it if I thought the sisters were doing well and it was for expansion, rather than dying away.
Paula June 01, 2014 at 09:01 PM
"Our Lady of the Highway" as some called it, is still around - somewhere on the other side of the Hudson, I heard. I've meant to go look for it and say hello to an old friend.
Marie Gagliardi Del Bene June 10, 2014 at 10:59 AM
I Remember Good Counsel College! I Hope they don't destroy this as well! Was there a path in the back with statues? In the winter you could see them from highway if you looked up just right. I agree with Laura, let them use the land they have ,it's beautiful and full of HISTORY!!!


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