By Jano Tantongco
A nun and former St. Anthony’s High School teacher has been reported missing during her travels in Hallstatt, Austria.
According to a report published by The Local Austrian, Hallstatt police found Sister Eileen Christie’s passport and wallet at the Haus Jodler hostel after she disappeared on July 6.
Christie, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph congregation in Brentwood, has been traveling solo across Europe since last month. She also volunteers at St. Anthony’s of Padua Church in East Northport as a director of lectors and spiritual director, according to Rev. Joseph Mirro, pastor at the church.
“The authorities in Austria have conducted extensive investigations for her, but to no avail,” Mirro said. “We’ll be praying for her safe return, we still are praying in our parishes along with the Sisters of St. Joseph and St. Anthony’s High School.”
The church was slated to offer a prayer service for Christie on Wednesday evening. Christie also worked as a teacher for St. Anthony’s High School in South Huntington, retiring one year ago, according to nephew Bill Freda.
Freda, of Valley Stream, said that Christie, 72, began her trip in Croatia. He said she’s a “veteran hiker, swimmer and traveler to that part of the world,” and that she has been taking these trips for at least 25 years. Christie typically travels alone since it was difficult to find companions that could travel for six to eight weeks at a time, according to Freda.
“She likes Europe, the change in topography, she likes the mountain views of Europe,” he said.
Christie was staying in Hallstatt for six days, staying at Haus Jodler. Christie periodically checked in with emails that she would then send to her family members. Freda said he last heard from Christie on July 6, when she sent an email that said she was headed to the supermarket.
But, when he hadn’t received an email for four days after that, he grew concerned.
By July 9, she was scheduled to arrive at her next guest house in the city of Innsbruck. Freda called the establishment on July 11, but was told that she she never checked in. Freda then called Haus Jodler and spoke with the innkeeper, who said he hadn’t seen Christie since July 6.
“He said that her possessions were still in her room,” Freda said. “This, of course, is when the ‘uh-oh’ moment happened.”
Freda said that Christie’s credit card was last used on July 6. He said Hallstatt police have been using canines to search, including at a nearby lake since Christie was an “avid swimmer.” Freda said authorities speculate that Christie may have fallen off a hiking trail and possibly fell down a precipice.
“Either it was a hiking accident, a swimming accident or foul play,” Freda said. “We really don’t know which of those is the ultimate answer.”
Neither the U.S. Embassy in Austria nor Hallstatt police returned requests for comment before deadline Wednesday.