Marydell Sisters/Hook Mountain

Marydell Sisters/Hook Mountain, New YorkPhoto credit: Ben Weiland

In the early 1924, the Sisters of Our Lady of Christian Doctrine established a summer camp in Upper Nyak for youth from New York City. The camp ran until 1988, when the sisters converted the camp into the Marydell Faith and Life Center—"a place that by its very existence fosters a respect for the beauty and integrity of the Earth."

But with only 17 women left in the order-the youngest in her 60s-the sisters knew they needed to make plans for the property. "To me, this beautiful piece of God's creation is sacred ground," Sister Veronica Mendez, the order's director, told the Journal News. "We don't want mansions built on it. From my grave, I want to hear children's laughter on this property."

The Trust for Public Land is working with the sisters to protect 30 acres of the property adjacent to Hook Mountain State Park. If the effort is successful, Palisades Interstate Park Commission will add the Marydell property to the park system, while the religious order will retain the retreat center and residences for the remaining sisters.

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