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1937 - "A Year of Anticipation"

The New Year dawned cold and snowy, a year of anticipation, for we awaited the visitation of our dear Reverend Mother Aloysia’s delegate. On January 4 school reopened, but a number of the children could not return because of the heavy snowfall. The seventh day registered 24 degrees below zero. January 11 was set for a sale for the missions. Though confined to the children of the school, the sum of $68.00 was realized. The eve of February 1 was spent in preparation for our dear Mother Cherubim's feast day. It was a day of rejoicing for all.

Our dear Right Reverend Msgr. McNamara was really and truly surprised on the occasion of his Ruby Jubilee March 4. Sisters, children and parish joined in the festivities. The men sang, and little ones rejoiced his dear fatherly heart with their words of congratulation. On March 10 the children retreat began, conducted by Reverend Thomas Martin, S.J., Father has his own way of attracting the children. The retreat was very successful.

Sr. Aloysius was called on March 24 to her dear Mother who was critically ill. Sister reached home just a little too late to meet her beloved mother this side of eternity. On March 29, a missionary friend of Father Burke, a St. Columban Father, talked to the children on his experiences in China. The talk was very interesting. In April the month we have been waiting for, especially the 6th, the day on which our two dear Mothers, Reverend Mother Ancilla and I Mother Alphonse arrived at St. Mary's, our expectations were fulfilled. Can we ever forget the gentle sweetness of dear Mother Ancilla, and the joy of dear Mother Alphonse on arriving at her old home. How full of pleasures were those two weeks, how full of blessings, but oh, how quickly gone their way taking with them our two dear Mothers. During their sojourn with us, we had the happiness of celebrating the Silver Jubilee of Sr. Radegund Cavin and Electa Mackin.  It was a beautifully simple celebration; the joy of which was enhanced by the presence of our two guests.  On the evening of the 11th we were entertained in our assembly room with pictures from Holland and elsewhere.  Our thanks to the two mothers.

April 19 brought sad farewells.  Mothers Ancilla and Alphonse have gone but their memory remains.  Just after the departure of our two mothers, Mother Cherubim was under observation prior to an operation Sister recovered nicely, thank God, but was advised not to resume class duties until September.  One of our Sophomore pupils, the son of the mayor, Jacques Kersenbrock, met with an accident with promised to be fatal.  The whole school stormed heaven, and with the help of skillful Lincoln doctors, his life was spared.

May was a rather uneventful month except in its dedication to Our Blessed Mother, and the devotion of the Sisters and children to her on each and every day.  Many were the visits paid to shrines during the day, and each evening cam the crowning glory of the day, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.  The Seniors presented their class play, “The Making of Miss Graduate,  by Reverend Daniel Lord, S. J.  It was particularly beautiful and significant for the class of girl-graduates only, and although very different from the ordinary play, was very well received by the audience.  The close of the month brought First Holy Communion to 21 boys and 24 girls.  The alumnae banquet was unusually well attended. The gathering of so many old girls from all parts of the country successfully engaged in various activities makes one realize that the influence of the school has been for good, and that god’s work is carried on through the years. Immediately after school at Ewing, while Srs. Leontine and Aloysius conducted classes at St. John’s at Clearwater.  Sr. Alexia spent her vacation at Denver, Colorado to escape hay fever.  Her letters during the visit indicated that Sister was enjoying every minute of her stay among the mountains.  Class day exercises took place on the evening of June 5, followed by Commencement June 6, First Friday.  Reverend Father Beyersdorfer delivered a very beautiful address to the graduates, seventeen in number.  By noon, the peace and quiet of vacation were upon us.

As is usual, July brought changes among the Sisters.  Sister Denis exchanged places with Sr. Bertolfa of Alliance.  Srs. Lydia and Redempta left for Charleston, W. Va. To be replaced by Srs. Christine and Constance, the former from Holy Rosary, Columbus, Ohio, the latter from Havre, Mont.  The change was particularly pleasing to Sr. Constance, one of our St. Mary’s graduates, and an O’Neill girl.  Sr. Pancratia accompanied Sr. Constance to be an extra helper at St. Mary’s. During one of our electric storms, the lighting struck the stone crosses on both the academy and Convent, making a replacement necessary.  All was covered by insurance.  Three of the Sisters made use of the State University Extension Course during the summer and earned College hours here at home.  Mrs. Parker, former County Superintendent, was very kind and helpful to the Sisters throughout the course. 

In August one of our 1935 graduates, Loretta Miller, a sister of Sr. Dolorettta, returned to St. Mary’s to accompany dear Mother Cherubim to Stella.  Mother went for retreat and Chapter, Loretta to consecrate her young life to God.  During Mother’s absence the house got an extra shine from attic to cellar.  The premises, too, were beautified, for Mr. W.J. Froelich sent his landscape gardener to see what he could see for St. Mary’s. All was in readiness to greet Mother and welcome her return after the days of suspense at Stella.

Though all were sorry to lose good Mother Gerard as Provincial Superior, we welcomed with grateful hearts her God to be our shepherdess for the next six years at least.  The school year opened with registration on September 7.  The records showed a larger enrollment than ever before, three hundred eleven, (311) one-third of whom were high school students.  Right Reverend Msgr. McNamara celebrated holy Mass on the morning of the 8th in honor of Our Lady for a blessed and successful school year.

To our great sorrow, Reverend Father Burke was called to Omaha, to act as assistant in Sacred Heart parish.  Father had endeared himself to all during his short stay in O’Neill.  We shall miss his priestly visits to our chapel where he spent hours before the Blessed Sacrament.  Reverend Walter Flynn replaced Father Burke.  On September 28, Reverend Father Ostdiek, diocesan superintendent, visited our school for one day.  His words of praise for St. Mary’s filled our hearts with joy and gratitude.  On the Feast of St. Francis, the boarder choir sang its first High Mass in our chapel.  It was very well sun and helped to make the day beautiful and solemn.  On Friday, October 8, Mother left for Alliance with Sr. Aloysius, who for some time had not been well.  Doctor found an operation necessary, so Sister remained.  Every available resource was used to avoid engaging a lay teacher and Sister’s poor darlings had five teachers a day.  The customary novena in preparation for Christ the King was held in the high school corridor.  A beautiful program on Friday afternoon brought it to a close.  The consecration of the school to the Sacred Heart was renewed.

The boarders sang the requiem in our chapel on the commemoration of All Souls.  That evening, Sr. Aloysius returned from Alliance.  On the 19, Mother again wended her way to the hospital, this time to Minot, with good Sr. Pancratia who for a long time had scarcely been out of bed.  We were sorry to lose our extra help, but Mother brought Sr. Wilfred from Minot to help Sister Ewalda in her work.

On the 21st of November, two feasts were combined and a delightful program was rendered by the music department.  Mr. Durham, director of the O’Neill Band, who services are being given to St. Mary’s as well as to the public school, directed the orchestra.  The coal collection, sponsored each year by the men of the town, for exceeded our expectations.  God is indeed good to St. Mary’s, for nowhere are such wonderful benefactors to be found as here in O’Neill.  Immediately after the Thanksgiving holidays preparations were begun for December 8 and for this Christmas program.  On the 4th, one of the senior boarders, Genevieve Morris of Ewing, who for some time had been receiving instructions from Msgr. McNamara, had the great happiness of being baptized.  She received her dear Lord for the first time the flowing day, and on Dec 8 was received into the Sodality.  How grateful we should be for such evident signs of God’s blessing on our work.  Father Flynn conducted the beautiful ceremonies on the feast of Our Immaculate Mother.  Forty candidates were received into the Sodality.

Classrooms were decked in festive array, music rang through the building, and , with the sound of Christmas hymns and carols, and the lovely Christmas Contata,  “The Prince of Peace, “ the Christmas spirit was upon us, and Christmas vacation. The children left on December 17, only two remaining.  St. Nicholas and the Christ Child must have been pleased with us, for never were days more peacefully and happily spent than during the vacation of 1937.  In the midst of worldly turmoil round about us everywhere, an extra share of Christmas peace seems to have entered our cloistered home with eh coming of God of Peace.  May it abide with us throughout the New Year.

Perhaps an outstanding event of the year should be recorded here, the settlement of the Cavanaugh case which, since 1928, has hung over St. Mary’s like a heavy cloud.  Thanks to the kindness of Mr. W. J. Hammond, that deed is blotted from the pages of history and thanks to God, St. Mary’s breaths freely again. Deo Gratias.

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