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1923 - "God will Provide"

The opening of the new school year did not predict the happiest sailing, for many of the pupils did not return after Christmas to the Academy. The financial condition of the famers hereabouts and of the people of neighboring villages and towns, was not such as to permit them to send their children back to us. They were not even able to pay up their debts for the last school year.

On January 6, the sad news of the death of dear Mother Seraphine Luders reached us. Mother Seraphine, the German Provincial; made a visitation of the American convents in 1907and so endeared herself to all by her great kindness that she erected a lasting monument for herself in the memory of all who were so fortunate as to meet her. Since her accident in Heythuzen she had been compelled to keep to her bed, but her ever active mind in all its freshness as ever, followed every interest of our beloved Congregation. For the continued existence and further development of the Congregation in the United States, she was especially interested. Our Congregation here in the United States owes her special thanks, as it was she who gave it a strong upward swing and promoted its growth and well-being. Never shall we forget the motherly care she manifested towards us, and her great love for America. R. I. P.

From January 18 to 25 the Unity Octave as prescribed by our Holy Father was held in our chapel. The program of prayers and songs "That all may be one" was carried out accurately. The second semester opened in February. This month was spent preparing and drilling the grades for an operetta, "Over the Rainbow" which was to be given in March.

On March 11 the children's retreat opened and was con-ducted by Reverend Andrew Cook, S. J., Chaplain of Cook Co. Hospital, Chicago. Although Father Cook is entirely deaf and can only understand by using an ear apparatus for the deaf, his lectures were unusually interesting and inspiring and held the listeners in rapt attention. The pupils derived great spiritual benefit and one can truthfully say that this was the best retreat ever given at St. Mary's to the pupils.  Father Cook has not only a keen insight into the workings of the human heart, but also a warm and understanding heart for children.

On March 17, when the Operetta was to be presented, a heavy snowfall caused it to be postponed for several days. The play demanded a great outlay of time for drill and expense for costumes, but it was played several times, each time winning applause and bringing in a substantial amount at the box office, so that it was really a great success financially.

Sister Angelica who, since October had been at St. Joseph's Hospital, Omaha under the doctor's constant care returned to St. Mary's on April 15.

On April 26, the Senior pupils presented the play "Old New York." The name was changed to "Lost and Found Again." It was a colonial play of Washington's time.  As the City Hall did not have the colonial scenery required, the play was carried in our own assembly, and the scenes and costumes prepared for it were stored away for future use. The young ladies' acting was more like professionals than amateurs and the audience applauded them over and over. They won great praise from everyone present.

On April 29 a Mission, lasting a week, was begun. It was conducted by two Redemptorist Fathers. It was well attended and the two priests held the best attention of the people throughout. On the last three days, a children's i mission was added during school hours, and the mission closed with a procession of the children and a consecration to the Blessed Mother of God.

The beautiful month of May brought us again the great joyto see one of our pupils brought into the one true Church.

On May 9, our music teacher, Sr. Angeline Bott, was transferred to Stella Niagara and Sr. Longina to Buffalo. No one replaced Sr. Angeline but Sr. Longina was replaced by Sr. Eligia from Buffalo. Fifteen little boys and sixteen little girls received Our dear Lord for the first time into their pure young hearts during the month of May.

It is customary for them to pray and sing during their First Holy Communion Mass, unassisted by the older pupils. This makes the occasion all the more touching and solemn.

On June 7 a picnic was held on the campus opposite the Academy. A graphophone was set up on the playground and played while the children marched along. Games for prizes were played and races were held. Refreshments were served and the picnic ended by singing a song before the statue of the Sacred Heart. On June 10 the Alumnae banquet was held, and on June 15 Commencement took place with seventeen graduates. Reverend Father Sipchen, S. J. gave the address before a large audience. There was a note of sadness when the moment for farewells arrived, for the girls realized that their happy school days were over. We all hope that the principles and impressions received at St. Mary's may bear abundant fruit in their future lives. Twenty-three boys and girls completed the courses of the elementary grades.

On June 17 Sister Honoria left us for Alliance to help at Summer School. Sr. Leo Lutz was transferred to New Lexington, Ohio and Sr. Electa Mackin left for Buffalo to continue her studies at Canisius College. Sr. Ascensia Popp came to replace Sr. Angeline in the music department. On July 2, while we were assembled in the chapel for Benediction a tornado from the northeast swept over our Academy and was followed immediately by a cloud burst. The storm tore the slates from the roof of the northeast corner of the building and the rain poured in through the openings in the roof, even down to the second story. As soon as-the storm abated, the roof had to be immediately repaired. Our two hired men worked till dark on the slippery, sloping roof, even endangering their lives in the attempt. The damage to the roof was fully covered by insurance, but the fifty little chicks which perished in the chicken yard could not be called back to life. The tornado had swept the chicks, two weeks old, against the barbed wire fence, where they remained hanging, and the cloud burst completed the disaster.

On July 4 a parade was held in O'Neill, led by the youngest citizens of the city—little boys on ponies, bicycles, or in autos; little girls in fancy costumes with their beautifully decorated doll buggies marched majestically through the streets of the city. Among the decorated autos was our float, representing the school, and again the play of March "Over the Rainbow" was featured. At the distribution of prizes St. Mary's won second place.

Retreat for the Sisters opened on July 29 given by Reverend Leahy, S. J. of St. Louis. Mother Mathilde and Sr. Cartona had already made their retreat at St. Francis Mission. The month of August brought us a period of many sacrifices. Many changes were made at that time in our Congregation. On August 19 Sr. Cartona was transferred to Buffalo. Soon after, on August 27, Sr. Ascemsia went to Holy Rosary Mission. On the same day, our good Mother Mathilde left us for Uniontown, Washington. Her successor here was Mother Justine Michels from Denver. She arrived here on August 23. Sr. Honoria and Sr. Electa did not return here after Summer School. Sr. Cyrilla Tormay and Sr. Leontine Simmermacher came to replace them. Sr. Austin King arrived on August 25 to replace Sr. Cartona. The music was taken over by Sr. Hildegarde Clauter who arrived on August 21. Sr. Thea Wesselman came with Sr. Cyrilla as Sr. Eligia left us on September 2 for Buffalo. On September 5 school reopened. Sr. Agnella Ritzman who was at the hospital in Alliance for treatment was to come for the first grade, but she was found unable to leave the hospital and take up the work assigned to her. Miss Dorothy Hall, one of the June graduates, was engaged for the class but only for one month, as she had a contract for a rural school to begin in October. For the fourth and fifth grades Miss Helen Connelly was engaged. For vocal, violin, and elocution lessons, young ladies had to be engaged as no Sisters here were able to undertake them. Miss Agnes Shoemaker who had been the assistant in the music department took up the same work this year.

On September 21 and 22, Institute was held in the public School building and our Sisters attended all the sessions. The lectures, given by professors and out-of-town teachers from large cities and universities, were very interesting and instructive and well suited to the purpose of the Institute.

On September 26 Mother Justine celebrated her first name day at St. Mary's. It was a pleasant and enjoyable day. On the next day we celebrated another festal day—one of rare occurrence. Dear old Sr. Euphrasia celebrated her Diamond Jubilee and Mother Justine put forth every effort to make the occasion as solemn and beautiful as possible. During the solemn High Mass the aged Sister knelt on a prie-dieu which was decorated symbolically for the occasion. Little girls in white led her into the chapel and Mother fastened the diamond (imitation) wreath on her veil.

The sermon for the occasion was preached by Father Leecker, pastor of Atkinson and the celebrant of the Mass was Father Alberts from Ewing. The latter while in Europe in 1922 for the Passion play at Oberammergau and to visit his relatives, made it his business also to visit our Sisters at Nonnenwerth. Sr. Euphrasia received many beautiful presents and many congratulations. Of the latter, one from Archbishop Moeller of Cincinnati, Ohio, Bishop Hartley of Columbus, Ohio, arid Bishop of Covington, Ky.—also others. Good old Sister Martha with. Sr. Perpetua came down from St. Francis Mission specially for this occasion and touching, indeed, was the happiness and surprise of Sr. Euphrasia to meet again so unexpectedly this true and tried faithful old sister who had works so long with her at St. Vincent’s.   The Jubilarian enjoyed to the full her day of celebration without showing fatigue and remained with us till evening in order to be present at the little Franciscan program the Sisters had prepared for her.

At the state fair in Lincoln our flowers and garden vegetables were awarded first, second and third prizes. To the joy of all, two of our former pupils (Sr. Patrice McCarthy and Sr. Antonella Troshynski) entered the Novitiate at Stella this fall. Quite unexpectedly the news reached us of Mother Gerard's visitation on October 2. We all rejoiced to be able to welcome her so soon into our midst. As we still had no teacher for the first grade, Mother Gerard called Sr. Ascensia back from Holy Rosary Mission to take charge of it. Besides the work of the first grade, Sr. Ascensia asked, for the opportunity to continue her study of violin, as an excellent violin instructress from the Conservatory came weekly to O'Neill.

From Nov. 19-23, Education Week was held.  Every afternoon, a special program was given which was well attended by parents of the pupils, friends, and benefactors of the Academy.  No admittance fee was required.  The ladies of the parish offered refreshments at reasonable prices in the children’s dining room. They had prepared everything in their own homes, so we had no expense but the amount realized was turned over to St. Mary’s. After deducting the amount paid out for meant, etc., they were able to give Mother $197.00. 

On November 27 the Reading Circle of our school held their annual meeting in honor of St. Catherine of Alexandria. Entertainment, suitable for the occasion, was offered as also a banquet. The Sodality of the Blessed Virgin is growing, since day pupils are permitted to join. Thirty new members were received on December 8. On December 9 Sr. Eugene left us for Cowlitz as they were badly in need of help.

For many weeks we prepared for a bazaar to be held in our gym on Dec. 13-14. The ladies again had charge of the refreshments and many articles were raffled.  The financial returns amounted to $600.

On December 17 the news of the sudden death of Mother Leonarda reached us. Each of us felt that we owed much to her and that it is our duty now to repay her generously.  We at once prayed Office of the Dead for her and had a Requiem High Mass the following morning for the repose of her soul. Not even a year had passed since the death of Mother Seraphine, and she had called after her the faithful companion of her novitiate. What these two great women did for the honor and glory of God is written in the Book of Life. Much, but not all, is known to us. Mother Leonarda's untiring zeal and still more her extraordinary spirit of prayer brought our Congregation in the United States into great prominence and renown. An outstanding characteristic of Mother Leonarda was her childlike cheerfulness and simplicity. She could rejoice and be gladder over a little flower than for rich presents.  Like our Holy Father St. Francis, she had deep love and devotion for the Divine Babe of Bethlehem. The writer of this (Sr. Maxine von Brixen) remembers to have seen Mother Leonarda lift the Infant from the crib and kiss its little face, hands and feet. We can well imagine that on the birthday of the Redeemer of the world, Mother Leonarda will be allowed to kneel at His feet, see Him face to face, and receive His divine and loving embrace. R. I. P.

For the first time we had Midnight Mass in our chapel for which we owe special thanks to our little Saviour. The parents of one of our Sisters donated a radio for our Academy and it was set up at once to entertain the Sisters at Christmas.  Mr. Hargesheimer, one of our German hired men, worked all day in the cold wind to erect the aerial so that the Sisters could enjoy it on Christmas.

Mother Gerard gave permission for us to take boy boarders again from the grades only, so the preparations for them are being made during the Christmas holidays.

The year of 1923 began under the stress of many difficulties, but Divine Providence turned everything to the welfare of St. Mary's so that at the close of the year, we can with all our hearts render Him grateful praise and love. Crosses and sufferings will not be wanting in the coming year, but as children of our Blessed Foundress, we shall raise our eyes towards the heavens which here on the prairie stretch as deep azure canopy over us, and say with her in Franciscan simplicity, "God will Provide."

The personnel of St. Mary's at the close of this year is as follows: 22 Sisters, 50 boarders, 2 hired men, 2 housekeepers, and two lady teachers who live in the Academy.

Reader Comments (1)

How many kids were in this year altogehter

November 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMr.E

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