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Jun152010

1929 - "Losing Their Land"

At the beginning of school after Christmas, several new boarders were to be seen in the classrooms, and the New Year opened with an extraordinarily satisfied and joyful spirit among the pupils. On January 17, the members of the choir, under Sr. Humiliate’s direction, gave an operetta depicting life in Holland. The audience responded to it with hearty applause.

At the beginning of the year, a Red Cross nurse was appointed for this District to look after the health of the school children. She spent the morning in the public school and the afternoon in St. Mary’s. Unusually warm weather during the month of January brought an epidemic of undesirable sicknesses to O'Neill and vicinity. Several cases which appeared to be the first stage of smallpox were found even among our pupils, and the doctor ordered all to be vaccinated. Scarlet fever and diphtheria were also prevalent. One of our high school girls, a day pupil (Gertrude Enright) was a victim.

On March 7 retreat opened for the students and was conducted with great success by Reverend J. A. Weis, S. J. of Mankato, Minn.

On March 1, Mother Justine with the two superiors from the Missions, Mother Mathilda and Mother Ludgera, left for Stella Niagara to attend the retreat for superiors. On the same day, our basketball team left for Sioux City to participate in a tournament. They won the trophy for "good sportsmanship.” Their outstanding qualities were said to be: manliness, politeness, kind and obliging ways towards others and good, clean sportsmanship. Our boys were not a little proud of the trophy—a large silver cup engraved the gift of his Excellency Bishop Heelan, of Sioux City.

After a mild winter and bright sunny days in March, we had an extraordinarily cold Easter season. A severe snow storm raged over the Nebraska prairie and called for great activity in the furnace room.

After Easter vacation, great preparations were begun for the meeting of the Nebraska Council of the International Federation of Catholic Alumnae which was to open on May 5. Each room, each corridor, even each cell had to undergo a thorough over-hauling. It was not a question of entertaining lay people only, for members of the various religious congregations were well represented. The new wing seemed just made for them. The Sisters who occupied the cells generously vacated them, so that the whole upper and lower stories could be used by the visiting Sisters. Most of these were Dominicans as most of the others, for example, Sisters of Mercy, Benedictines, etc. were lodged with their own relatives and friends in the city. There were about 175 visitors, and some arrived already on Friday and Saturday, May 3 and 4. The real program opened on Sunday morning with Solemn High Mass sung by St. Mary’s Alumnae. Several solos like Ave Maria and Veni Jesu, sung by a quartet, made the occasion especially solemn. The following schools sent a delegation of Sisters and pupils:

St. Agnes Academy, Alliance

4

Sacred Heart Academy, Falls City

1

Immaculate Conception College and Academy, Hastings

9

Sacred Heart High School, Omaha

6

Duchesne College, Omaha

3

Cathedral High School, Omaha

1

St. Mary's College, Omaha

8

St. Berchmann’ s, Omaha

9

St. John's High School, Omaha

10

Assumption High School, Chadron

12

Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, Spalding

26

Guardian Angel High School, West Point

2

St. Mary's Academy, O'Neill

91

 

Besides these, the following guests were present: Rt. Reverend Msgr. M. F. Cassidy, Reverend J. H. Ostdiek, Supt. of Catholic Schools, Omaha, Reverend B. J. Leahy, O'Neill, Reverend A. s. Kluthe, Spencer, Reverend Mother Gertrude, 0. S. B. , Sioux City, Mrs. Mary B. Finan, President of the I. F. C. A., Chicago, Mrs. W. W. Jeffrey, Omaha, and Mrs. Arthur Mullen, Omaha.  It is worthy of note to remark here that one of our graduates of the year received a prize, conferred during the business meetings, on the one who could best answer the question proposed by the I. F. C. A. The latter had a capital fund to be used for the education of members of religious orders, and the question revolved around this issue. Mary Conway answered the proposed question most satisfactorily and received the prize. This meeting proved a great, success from every viewpoint, and countless remarks of appreciation and praise were bestowed upon our academy. This should be a consolation and a reward to those who were active here at the time and a strong incentive to those in the future working here to keep St. Mary's abreast in high ideals and up to the standard in every good way.  “All for the master, whether success in our day or after years of trials and hard labor. With His help and under His protection, every good work must bring its- reward.

Anyone who has labored here knows that it is no slight undertaking to keep the standards up to present day requirements. It is mostly the children of farmers who are brought to us as boarders, and the aftermath of the World War makes it difficult for them to meet the amount required as tuition. The farmers invested heavily in machinery during the war to turn out great supplies, mortgaging their land in payment. How in the hard times when prices are very low and there are no markets, many are losing their land through taxes or foreclosure of mortgages. This lessens our source of income. More and more is being demanded from our teachers by the State Department; new features and changes are being introduced continually; and for this some extra funds are necessary. After this meeting was concluded, only four weeks remained until the close of school. An exhibit of school work drawings, paintings, and needlework, was on display for the meeting on May 5, and school closed May 31 with Commencement and the conferring of diplomas. For the first time in the history of St. Mary's, the Bishop was to preside at the Commencement and confer the honors. However, he was unable to come on May 31, so the affair was postponed till June 3. For the first time also Commencement took place in the parish church at 8:00 P.M. It was simple but truly religious occasion, most fitting for the close of a Catholic school. Bishop Rummell was appointed to the diocese of Omaha about a year and a half ago, his first appointment. He is a very fervent and zealous man.

Sr. Winifred Sweeney and Sr. Pauline Russ left immediately after the close of school for Spencer, a neighboring parish. The pastor, who has no parochial school, had begged for two Sisters to come there for two weeks to instruct his children and prepare them for their First Holy Communion about the middle of June. As soon as they returned, four Sisters prepared to leave on June 18 for Creighton University, Omaha. They were Sr. Winifred Sweeney, Sr. Etheldreda Bracken, Sr. Serafia Strot and Sr. Remigia Finneran who had arrived here from Alliance to join our three Sisters.

On July 7, Sr. Loyola Miller left us to help during the summer in the hospital at Havre, Montana. She did not return here after vacation, but was transferred to Columbus, Ohio. Sr. Ascensia Popp and Sr. Josaphat Grady went to the hospital in Alliance, the former for a slight operation, the latter for medical care.

Heavy storms here and in our vicinity did much damage by lightning which caused fires of light and heavy damages. Thanks to the fire department, the losses were kept at a minimum. Although our building is the highest in the neighborhood and stands on the highest part of the town, the lightning sought other points, and we ascribe this to the power of prayer and the blessed candles that were kept burning during the atoms .

This summer we enjoyed at various times, visitors from our other convents. This is always a great pleasure for us as we are situated so from any of our other foundations. Bishop Rummell remarked this the first time he visited us. We trust God may soon give us another convent of our Sisters near enough to permit us to see each other occasionally—an O’Neill hospital, for example. Another one of our Sisters had to pack up her bundle and depart for another clime. This time it was our dear Sr. Juventia who was transferred, in August, to St. Rita’s, Columbus.

The Sisters retreat was held August 10-17 and was given by Reverend F. Schulte, S.J. of Chicago. On August 18, Mother Justine left us, after a six years’ term of successful labor. We were sorry to see her go as she had done all in her power to promote the welfare and the progress of St. Mary’s. Many improvements in the school and convent will be constant reminders of her constant endeavors to progress.

Mother Alphonse Kampshoff arrived here on August 2I. On August 28, Sr. Salome and Sr. Scholastics came to replace Sr. Loyola and Sr. Juventia.

The new school year opened on September 3 with 235 pupils—more than the school had ever registered, but we had hoped for at least ten more boarders. Everything seemed to be going on as usual, but man proposes and God disposes. On September 22, our dear Sr. Humiliata was stricken with a severe case of pneumonia, and succumbed to it on Sept. 30. By her death we lost one of our best teachers—a self-sacrificing, generous soul who would offer herself for the hardest and most unpleasant tasks, and spend countless hours untiringly, when it meant rendering an act of charity to others. Her great, heroic character sheered itself so vividly in her last sickness. Sr. Humiliata was a convert, and no longer young, when she entered our congregation. God, alone, knows how many silent acts of resignation she was called on to make. They are all recorded in her book of life. May God reward her for her many generous sacrifices. R. I. P.

Sr. Antoinette, on her way to St. Francis mission, arrived here two days before Sr. Humiliata’s death, Mother Gerard notified her to take up Sr. Humiliate’s work, and when word reached Stella of the latter’s death, Sr. Antoinette was appointed to do the work until the end of the year. Miss Roberta Arbuthnot, one of our Alumnae, was called on to take part of Sr. Humiliata’ s work. Miss Arbuthnot had received her degree at the University of Lincoln and was qualified to be a member of the staff of St. Mary's.

On October 6, the Holy Name Society held a great religious demonstration on the campus opposite our Academy. A large speakers’ platform was erected and in front of it, the various Holy Name Societies from the surrounding towns and O'Neill, took their places. All wore the Holy Name badge, and it was a touching scene to see these stalwart men marching along and testifying to their faith in God. His Excellency, Most Reverend Joseph Rummell, was present for the ceremonies.

There were several speakers, and as a close Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was given, followed by the singing of "Holy God.”

The feast of Christ the King was celebrated in our chapel.  An act of consecration for all was made, and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament followed.  Members were received from the grades into the Angels’ Sodality on the Feast of St. Raphael.

The month of the Poor Souls passed quietly and without much ado, except Education Week which opened on November 15. It was closed with a program in which Longfellow’s "Hiawatha" was dramatized. Our boarders left on November 27 for a four days Thanksgiving vacation. On December 1 school reopened.

The Diamond Jubilee of the proclamation of the "Immaculate Conception" was celebrated in a special way. A contest was opened between the Grade School and the High School to see who could recite the most Hail Mary’s. A program was started On Dec. 6 in which both Grades and High School pupils participated, and on the feast itself, the new members of the Sodality were received. Christmas was approaching, and great preparations -were being made for it. A nice Christmas program, put everyone—pupils and Sisters—in the right mood for it, and on December 2O, our boarders left for home.

Christmas here passed quietly and happily, and with grateful hearts, we closed the year of 1929. It had been an eventful year, rich in great and beautiful deeds accomplished but not without trials and sorrows; however, these latter are conducive of our spiritual welfare.

Our fields and pastures this year have not been very good—scarcely any potatoes, but our garden provided well for the kitchen. We had many apples donated. Our cows furnished us plenty of milk during the year.

The personnel of St. Mary's is now: 21 Sisters, 63 boarders, (55 of them girls and 7 boys.) 1 hired man, 1 hired woman, 2 boys who attend school as boarders and care for the garden and stable.



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