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Dec232009

1911 - "Death is Coming Soon"

The new school year opened with 95 boarders and 200 day pupils.  Owing to the severity of the winter weather, work on the new building had to be temporarily abandoned, and Sisters and pupils had to accommodate themselves again to the cramped and congested conditions.  This naturally brought many sacrifices and much self-denial.  In addition to this, we had a very stormy spring which brought on much sickness from which we also had a severe visitation.  50 children were down with measles and ten with varioloid, a mild form of smallpox.  We kept it a secret and Divine Providence favored us for our school of all in the surrounding country remained unclosed.  On February 24 Gladys Sterling, a Protestant child of eight years, died here of pneumonia. Her mother and her aunts, all nurses, cared for her them­selves.  Four specialists were called in on the case, but the good God took her away to a better world.  Much to our consolation she was baptized secretly before she died.  She begged repeatedly for Holy Communion and always had a picture of the Last Supper in her possession.

The annual -retreat for the children was given Rev­erend P. Theiss, S. J. from March 26 to 30.  It was crowned with great success.  At its close, Frances and Laurene Louis were baptized and received into the Church.  Both received their First Holy Communion.

On the 9th of April Loretta Sullivan entered the novi­tiate at Stella Niagara and was followed in July by Lillian Paull.  On April 30, 115 children received their First Communion.  All were zealous to meet the Holy Father's expectations, so the little children of seven of seven ears, the beloved of the Lord, were carefully prepared to approach the Holy Table.  The older girls received daily and the little ones several times during each week. 

On May 1 we had a severe snow storm.  From the 7th to the 14th of May the Passionist Fathers gave a Mission in our parish, and on May 19, 228 were confirmed.  Most Rev­erend Bishop Keane , of Cheyenne, Wyoming, who came spec­ially for this occasion, officiated.  It just hppened that eight of our little ones who were ill received their First Holy Communion from the hand of His Excellency at the close of his Mass in our chapel.  When blessing them afterwards , he remarked, "These are the pets of Our Holy Father."

On June 15, school closed with the usual commencement and exhibition.

Then the work on the new building began again in great earnestness and we had a noisy, restless summer.  Now we are all glad that the work is finished, the workers gone, and everything proceeds in its usual way. 

On September 7, school reopened with 80 boarders and 200 day pupils.  Soon the number of boarders reached 98.  Thanks be to God, we are now able to provide ample room for the children.

On October 25, our dear Sister Bertranda passed to a better life.  She had arrived here from Sacramento, Calif., in August and, as weeks passed, we prayed and hoped for signs of improvement.  However, she understood only too well how to conceal her pain and sufferings, and we were all surprised when she begged Mother, ten days before her death, to let her receive the Last Sacraments and everything necessary to insure her happy death.  She felt that her end was near.  She received all the consolations of Extreme Unction with the greatest devotion and was as grateful as though she had been restored to health.  She never came again to the refectory.  On Wednesday, October 25, she seemed so much better that she sat up on a chair nearly all day. About five P.M. she said, “Death is coming soon, but not yet.  It will come life a thief in the night.  It may last yet till November.  Just as God wills, when He wills, and where He wills.  His most Holy Will be praised.”  At the ringing of the Angelus, her condition changed suddenly and we called Father Cassidy who brought her Holy Communion once more. She opened her eyes which were beaming with heavenly bliss and then placed her hands on her heart to express her joy. Then Father Cassidy prayed the prayers for the dying, gave her general absolution, followed by the recitation of the rosary, etc. He then went out and we prayed the prayers for the dying in German and renewed the Vows.  At the words Pov­erty, Chastity, and Obedience, she nodded her head with a smile as much as to tell us how grateful she was for the grace to have made them.  Then she tried to speak but could not.  However, we guessed her intention of trying to beg par­don of all the Sisters.  At 7:30 P. P.M. Father Cassidy came back.  With a smile, she thanked him and said, "The Sisters can't wait till I die." He smiled and told us to go to sup­per as he would call us in time.  Sister Bertranda was sit­ting up in bed, her head resting in Mother Leonie's arms. Until the very last, she had the strength to raise her hands and show her appreciation for the ejaculations that were being said, to kiss the crucifix, etc.  Her las word was, “Jesus.”  She died peacefully while the priest was reciting the prayers in the presence of all the Sisters.

Christmas was celebrated in the most solemn manner possible.  Our Christmas joy was increased by the presence of dear Mother Leonarda, who was on her visitation tour.  As nearly all of the children had returned home for the Christ­mas holidays, the Sisters were free to enjoy her visit all the more.  Those were days of grace which we cannot easily forget.  Again we admired the wonderful care of our congrega­tion, both spiritual and temporal, for each of her children sparing herself no sacrifice, however great, to promote the welfare of all.  The pleasant recreations, the inspiring words of instruction, the kind words of encouragement to work zealously, must have aroused an increase of love for the dear Master and made the bond more firm between us and our beloved Superiors.

Several changes were made during the year.  Sr. Afra, novice, was sent to Columbus, Ohio, and she was replaced by Sr. Xaveria of Lead, S. D.

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