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1926 - "O'Neill Has Changed"

After Christmas vacation, our boarders all returned and their number was increased by several newcomers which made the New Year appear full of good cheer and hopes for success.

On January 17, under the auspices of our Academy, a vocal concert was given in the K. of C. Hall by a male quar­tet from a conservatory in Chicago. The songs were chosen from those dealing with colonial times of North America and the singers appeared in the costumes of that day.

On January 27, fire broke out in our cellar and its cause was never discovered.  In spite of the fact that it was late at night, it was noticed in time to prevent any great damage. Conrad Lohr, our engineer and janitor, dashed through the suffocating smoke and had the fire almost extinguished when the fire department arrived. To make sure that the fire was really out, they applied their chemicals.

A pleasant evening of fun and frolic was furnished us in February by the ninth grade boys who presented the operetta "Freshies,” and the eleventh grade girls who put on a one-act play, "Lady Frances." On February 11, a religious play was given portraying the apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes to Bernadette. On February 14, Mother gave the boarders a party in honor of their much loved St. Valentine’s Day. On February 26, a lecture was given here for the ladies of O’Neill by Dr. Anne Nicholson, as representative of the Catholic Welfare Conference. Her subject was: The necessity for Catholic Women's Clubs for the protection of young girls. Admission was free to all.

About the middle of March, the retreat for our students opened, given by Reverend Andrew Cook, S. J. who had con­ducted one here four years previous. He was received with enthusiasm on the record he made at the last one. His practical points arid applications found attentive, willing listeners, especially when he repeated again and again, "The only really happy life is a holy life." The students showed great recollection and attention to his lectures, as did also former students who attended, especially on Saturday and Sunday.

The month of April was uneventful, but May brought some changes in the Community. Sr. Polycarp went to St. Aloysius, New Lexington, and Sr. Reiharda Christmann came from there to O'Neill. On May 31 the Alumnae banquet was given. On June 2 Commencement was held with 18 young lad­ies completing the prescribed course of studies.

The Sisters retreat opened June 8 and was conducted by Reverend F. D. Stephenson, S. J. Before the opening of the retreat, Sr. Lydia was transferred to Alliance, St. Agnes Academy, and Sr. Josaphat Grady came from there to replace her. A week after the close of retreat, Sr. Roberta, Sr. Maxine and Sr. Praxedes went to St. Francis Mission to make their retreat. Sr. Josaphat had arrived here too late to make retreat, so she, too, went to St. Francis with them. Sr. Praxedes did not return to O'Neill-with the other three Sisters, as word had come from Mother Gerard that she was to remain at St. Francis and to be replaced by Sr. Bernita Betzhold.

Mother Justine and Sr. Dolores left on June 2O for Chicago to attend the International Eucharistic Congress. As they had received an invitation to visit Stella Niagara, they did not return until July 5. From July 18-21, we had the honor to have Reverend Father Humilis, 0. F. M., of Los Angeles, Calif., as our guest. He, also, had attended the Eucharistic Congress, and on his homeward trip stopped off here and there to meet old friends.

During the last week of August, Sr. Augustine arrived here from Uniontown, Wash., to become one of our community. An automatic electric apparatus was installed and connected with our refrigerator so that we can manufacture our own ice at all seasons of the year. This is less expensive and more sanitary than getting the ice from the sluggish rivers of Nebraska.

It was with some apprehension that we saw the new school year approaching. The past spring and the first half of the summer months had been so hot and dry that no good crops could be expected and now, to crown it all with com­plete failure, heavy rain and hail in the second half were of very frequent occurrence. The hail stones were as large as hens' eggs. A bit of consolation, however, came in the form of a second crop of hay. The dried, burnt prairie became fresh and green and the foliage of the trees was a beautiful golden color, something rare here, for the leaves are usually so dry and burnt that they fall to the ground before autumn arrives.

During vacation, we made a pilgrimage every evening to the statue of Our Lady of Victory that she should bring us many good boarders, and she blessed our efforts in a wonderful way. We had the same number as the previous year, but a better class of children, always pleasant and satis­fied, but among all these young ladies not a single voca­tion to the religious life - no postulant for Stella Niagara.

Mother's name day passed in the usual way with song and gladness. Reverend Father Cassidy, our pastor, who was ail­ing and his niece who kept house for him also frequently ill, went to a summer resort. As the maid took her vacation dur­ing their absence, the assistant, Father Brady, took his meals at the convent.

Mother Justine had planned a triduum in preparation for the seventh centenary of our Holy Father St. Francis. At  first, it was intended to be only for the Sisters, but later arranged to have a retreat for the students connected with it, so as to awaken in their young hearts the true spirit of St. Francis. Reverend Francis Gliebe, O.F.M., of Los Angeles, who has three sisters in our congregation, conducted the exercises which seemed to bear abundant fruit.

On October 14 a concert was given in our assembly by a young violinist named Farbman. It was well attended and the audience rendered hearty applause to the splendid technique of the player.

Nothing of importance happened during the month of November except the election of state and county officials. The Sisters took part and registered their votes. In the last few years O’Neill has changed in some respects. The Catholics who founded the town and were in the majority always set the pace in public and social affairs, but many Protestants of good standing have settled here also, and work to some extent against the Catholics. On this ac­count, the election did not turn out as we desired. Our Catholic superintendent of schools, Miss Anna Donohoe, a great friend and benefactor of St. Mary’s, was obliged to give up her position to her opponent.

At the beginning of December, Sr. Augustine was trans­ferred to Minot, N. D. to take charge of the office work as requested by Mother Borgia Schneider. Reception of the- Sodality was held on December 8.

On December 21, the pupils presented a Christmas play most pleasing to everyone. By evening the house was al­most empty as all except seven left immediately after the play for home and Christmas holidays. On Christmas Eve we again had the happiness of kneeling before our Christmas Crib in the chapel and of having Midnight Mass followed by two low Masses, as Father Cassidy, for the past eight weeks, had two assistants. Our good benefactors remembered us as usual with turkeys, geese, ducks, cakes, etc.

We close this year with hearty thanks to God, begging His blessing for the coming year. Twenty-two Sisters are working at St. Mary’s.

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