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Apr172010

1925 - "Opens its Doors"

With the exception of two, all our boarders returned after Christmas vacation, and these two were replaced by new ones. Sr. Rolanda Bonnes was transferred at the beginning of the year, and she was replaced by Sr. Praxedes Assel who came from Denver.

On January 18 through the influence of St. Mary's, a concert was given in the City Hall. The members of the troupe which furnished the excellent music were inhabitants of Hawaii. As Hawaiian music is so popular at present, the concert was pre­sented to a packed house. A second concert to be given by the well-known Zollner quartet had to be dropped, owing to the severe illness of one of the members.

The boys of Father Flanagan's Home for destitute boys staged a free play which was attended by our pupils. It was for the benefit of the Home and a shower of free gifts for this purpose made the undertaking worthwhile as a benefit.

On St. Patrick's day, March 17, the Seniors presented a play entitled "The Princess Kiku." Every seat was sold be­fore the performance and, to accommodate the ever increasing number of friends and well-wishers, chairs and benches had to be carried in so that finally no passage way was left clear. Other numbers, songs, and declamations preceded the play, and couples of little boys and girls in old-fashioned Irish costume appeared on the stage and sang various lively little Irish songs. A spectroscope, presented by the Seniors, was used for the first time, and added much towards the suc­cess of the program.

The days after the beautiful Easter holidays passed very rapidly, filled with the many activities which belong to the closing of the school year. On May 31 fifteen of our lit­tle tots received their First Holy Communion. The grade school closed on June 5 and on June 10 Commencement took place. The Sisters' retreat began on June 21, conducted by Father O'Brien, S. J. These were veritable recreation days for soul and body after the fatiguing hurry and scurry of the last weeks of school. At the close of retreat, Sr. Lydia went to Buffalo to attend Canisius College. Sr. Ascensia went to Denver to be temporary organist at St. Elizabeth's, and at the same time to get extra instructions on the violin from Sr. Vitalis.

Vacation which passed quietly and pleasantly gave the Sisters an opportunity to rest and to gather new strength, if the broiling heat of Nebraska summer would permit them to do so. The thermometer rose to 108° Fahrenheit and the crops in our vicinity suffered immensely, as the heat continued through the summer. Corn was completely ruined—burned up by the intense heat and but little hay and few potatoes were saved. From August first on, the cattle had to be fed dry fodder as the pastures were turned into desert areas. It was at this time of crop failure and general depression that repair work had to be made in our heating system. The work was carried on during the greatest heat and many unexpected difficulties presented themselves. As it was impossible to get at one part of the heating system, the wall had to be broken open from outside and the ground floor excavated to a depth of about 16 to 18 feet so as to get down into the cellar. Two mechanics from Sioux City did the work and boarded at the hotel for four weeks. It is worthy of note, that our hired man, Conrad Loehr, took the place of one mechanic, thus saving the Academy quite an item of expense. With permission from both­er Gerard repairs were begun in July on the chapel. The ceil­ing which was continually casting down its loosened plaster was replaced by a steel one of Gothic design. Instead of the small door at the entrance to the chapel, a large glass one in Gothic style with a window on either side was erected. The balustrade along the choir was also removed and a new one put in. The frescoing of the chapel was done by the firm of Fuchs & Dehle of Omaha. The colors are now artistic, bright, and cheerful. The altars are done over in white enamel and the electric lights harmonize splendidly in daylight through their delicate tints, with the other decorations of the chapel. At night, they fill the room with a soft, white light, wonder­fully bright. A new clock with chimes was donated for our chapel by the Catholic Daughters of America and the melodious tones of this artistic timekeeper, as it rings out the quar­ters and hours, tends to increase the devout feelings which per­vade the mind of one contemplating the beauty of our little chapel.

Our Community was called upon to make two sacrifices. Sr. Hildegarde Clauter was transferred to Cowlitz and Sr. Assissia Sheitinker to St. Francis Mission. In their stead came Sr. Antonia Binninger for Sr. Hildegarde and Sr. Olinda Tewilt for Sr. Assissia. Sr. Winifred Sweeney also came to work again at St. Mary's. One of our pupils, Pauline Wierer entered the novitiate at Stella in August.

School reopened on September 1. As we had expected and feared, fewer boarders arrived than in the previous year. Many parents hesitated and could not decide so that the board­ers who did come were late in doing so. Besides, the intense heat of the first weeks of school prevented to a great extent any serious application to study.

In accordance with the wish of Reverend Mother, St. Mary's opened her doors for the first time to high school boys, but only ninth graders to begin with. About the mid­dle of September Mother Gerard arrived for visitation, and as we had not seen her for two years, it was a great pleasure for us. Mother Justine's nameday was celebrated in the usual joyful and happy manner. A splendid rain, lasting three or four days, so refreshed the dry and burnt surroundings that all was fresh and green for the celebration of our Silver Jubilee. The celebration began on October 1 with a solemn High Mass in our chapel, as this was to be more for the com­munity end for visiting Sisters. Our visitors were, Sr. Kostka Sr. Cleopha, Sr. Laurissa Tierney, Sr. Jolenta, Sr. Teresa, and Sr. Bertranda. Theodore Piekenbrock also was happy to accept an invitation to be present. He had worked on the first build­ing with Brother Stander, and St. Mary's owed much to his gen­erosity and interest for her welfare. He was janitor at the convent in the first years of its existence. October 22 was the day appointed for our pupils. A banquet was served for them in the children's dining room which was beautifully dec­orated in white, blue and silver. This of course was a free day, and closed with a play suitable for the occasion, in the City Hall. The play consisted of three parts. The first part was of a symbolic nature. The spirit of the church and the spirit of the prairie opened the play with a dialogue. Their theme is the building of the convent school by the parishioners of St. Patrick's. During their talk, a bright flame ap­pears, that which destroys the first convent immediately after its completion. Both speakers fall to their knees, weeping, but a brown-robed Franciscan in the garb of our Order appears as the "Love of our holy Father, St. Francis" and offers help. This first part closes with a tableau , Hope, according to the famous painting by Watts. Two of our former pupils sang a duet back of the scenes,—voices of Hope. The explanations for the different acts were given by one of the pupils who be­tween acts read in a loud clear voice the whole history of St. Mary's, referring to the various scenes being presented. The second part showed the first A, B, C class with its young teacher. The erection of a new sanctuary was vivified in a most pleasing picture. An adoring angel, assisted by two smaller angels before the Blessed Sacrament, was lighting the new sanctuary lamp. Then came the First Communicants and the Children of Mary. The tableau shown here was the Chil­dren of Mary under the protection of the patroness of the house, Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The third part of the play depicted the later years of the Academy. The boys of the ninth grade held a mock meeting of the City Council where a discussion took place about the closing of the street which crossed our premises. This action had taken place in order to enable us to erect a new building in 1910 when mayor Ed. F. Gallagher was in office. Those of our pupils who had con­secrated their lives to God in religion were represented by a band of virgins clothed in white garments, who turned away and despised the luring spirits of a worldly life and devoted themselves to the angels of the three vows of Poverty, Chas­tity and Obedience. This last part ended with a tableau of Alma Mater and the choir, singing "0 God we praise Thee." These festivities found the greatest acclamation from every­one and they are often recalled with great admiration. The next day began with a Requiem High Lass for all the de­ceased Sisters who had labored here, and for deceased pupils and friends of St. Mary's. A banquet was given in the after­noon to former pupils—Alumnae—and invited guests. In the beautifully decorated gym the tables were set and a large gathering assembled to revive old friendships and recall past happenings in pleasant fashion. Toasts were given, jolly and serious, with songs and declamations and variations. The ap­pearance of graduates of each of the past 25 years, dressed in the style of her day, and marching around the room to mus­ic, called forth prolonged applause. The music for this oc­casion was furnished by the city orchestra under the direction of Dr. Luebker.  Just before the close of the banquet little Louise O’Donnell presented a purse to St. Mary's amounting to $3,000. This had been collected by the Alumnae members and people of the parish. It was used to defray the expenses caused by the renovation of the chapel. The last day of the Jubilee celebration was given over to a church celebration and the afternoon was spent in visiting with friends and ben­efactors of the Academy. The sermon on this occasion was given by Reverend Father Grollig, S. J. from St. Francis Mission who had come down especially as our guest. With gratitude to God we ended these days of celebration—also with hearts full of joy and happiness. The memories of it will dwell long in the minds of all who witnessed it, and it will often be recalled with gladness of heart. But joy is often turned to sorrow. About the middle of October, Sr. Praxedes had the misfortune to get her hand caught in the electric bread mixer, while she was preparing the dough. It was badly cut and crushed. The doctor who was called immed­iately declared that her middle finger would have to be am­putated. We stormed heaven and held novena after novena to Mother Magdalen, but the will of God was adverse to ours and to that of the doctor. After untold suffering, at the be­ginning of December, the middle finger had to be taken off.  Her whole hand was badly inflamed and healed slowly, and the index finger also had to be amputated.

On December 8, reception of 20 young ladies into the Sodality was held. A play of serious theme was given on December 12.

To the great benefit of our coal supply, our winter has been an open and mild one with no frost and no snow. However, just before Christmas, the Nebraska winter pro­claimed his arrival with heavy frosts and snow, and amid scenes of icicles and frosted trees, we passed a quiet and peaceful Christmastide.

Again we were permitted to have Midnight Mass in our newly renovated and beautifully decorated chapel. Our good friends and benefactors sent us oranges, apples, cakes, etc. in abundance to make sure that our Christmas would be a Merry one.

We close this year with deepest thanks to the good God Who strengthened and supported us in sorrow as in joy during the past year.

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