HUNTINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A beloved Long Island teacher and nun is missing after disappearing more than a week ago while traveling alone in Austria, leaving behind all her possessions in a hotel room.
CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff spoke with loved ones who are hoping someone out there knows something about her whereabouts.
From a bridge over a churning Alpine stream, Sister Eileen Christie was happily in her element when she took a cellphone video days before disappearing. She has been missing for eight days and has her loved ones worried sick.
“The worst possible scenario. She loves these vacations, she lives for them and now she’s missing,” nephew Bill Freda told CBS2.
The sister of Saint Joseph and 72-year-old teacher was travelling alone in Austria and checked in with her nephew often until the emails suddenly stopped on July 6. Her possessions, a passport and wallet, were all found in her room at Haus Jodler in the tiny village of Hallstatt. She hadn’t checked out nor checked into her next stop, Innsbrook.
“She possibly went swimming, police right now are searching the lake because Eileen was an avid swimmer,” Freda said. “It’s not an encouraging situation, we’re just hoping someone maybe who hears this story crossed her path while on vacation or knows something.”
Christie is an experienced traveler, which makes the situation even more disconcerting. Prayers were said at Saint Anthony’s High School in Huntington, where she taught for decades.
The beloved theology teacher is known for her vibrant energy and adventurous spirit. Those who know her said she would never do anything risky and always checked in. At her convent in Brentwood, amid hope, there is worry.
The family has been working with the U.S. Embassy and local police in Austria investigating the disappearance, using Sister Eileen’s cell videos and photographs to search the streams, lakes, mountains and trails she visited.
The president of Sisters of St. Joseph said they are very confident everything is being done, but their concern is great and they just hold out hope she will come home.
A State Department official told CBS2 that when a U.S. citizen is missing abroad, they work closely with local authorities.
“The U.S. Department of State has no higher priority than the protection of U.S. citizens overseas. If a U.S. citizen is missing, we work closely with local authorities and cooperate fully in their search efforts. Due to privacy considerations we have no further comment at this time,” the department said in a statement.