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1951 - "Married within a Month"

Jan.1 ’50 

The late months of the dying year, 1949, had marked the end of fifty four glorious, priestly years of Right Rev. Monsignor J. S. McNamara. The New Year and installation ceremonies penned with flourish the opening of Father Timothy O’Sullivan’s apostolate at St. Patrick’s. He had been in the parish since December 19 and had parishioners, young and old, by his kindly, benign, fatherly interest. Father O’Sullivan came to O’Neill from Jackson, Nebraska.

Jan. 10 ’50             

The past year brought to an abrupt close to the earthly career of several other loved and valued personages. Mr. Russell Shoemaker, 41, the father of six, was stricken with polio, and on January 10 began his career of glory, reward of an exemplary Christian life. His sudden death struck sorrow into the hearts of the entire community. His sister, Sister M. George, felt his loss keenly. All, however, recognize that Russell had in a short space fulfilled a long time.

Jan. 17, ’50             

Midyear examinations took their usual toll of sweat and tears, but a beautiful three day Retreat ironed out all the wrinkles. Left in the dispositions of the students. Father James Preuss, S.J., of St. Francis Mission, conducted the retreat.

Jan.21, ’50             

Another period just as effective ended the work of Father Cyril J. Werner in O’Neill. He was transferred to St. Francis Parish in Omaha. The capital this time opens the term of Father Alex Omak’s work as assistant at St. Patrick’s and religion teacher and chaplain at St. Mary’s.

March 7, ’50             

The record of a cold but open winter was erased by a sudden, unheralded blizzard that paralyzed school, business, parish, and social activities for days before people recovered their equilibrium. This blizzard brought as much snow in one storm as a series of then did in the previous winter’s record breaking history.

Mar. 10, ’50             

Months of practice and drill preceded the school activities contests. In athletics there were two exclamation points. The boys won the Holy County championship, and a few weeks later, won second place in the District Tournament. In speech work there were honors, too. (Mar.19, ’50) St. Mary’s students were awarded first place in oratory, first in dramatic reading, and superior in their one-act play.

Apr. 13, ’50             

Then came the Music Contest, St. Agnes Academy arrived, forty strong, with Mother Virginia and Sister Constance. Their students carried home a high percentage of honors. St. Mary’s, too, won her share of honors and kept in the tradition of past years.

Apr. 15, ’50             

A series of card parties, beginning in January and cover a period of about six weeks, afforded social and charitable outlets for the friends of St. Mary’s. This group, similar to Parent-Teacher associations, but more inclusive, was proud to be able to give the Sisters over a thousand dollars. The money was used for two French horns, new basketball suits, and twenty new beds for the little girls’ dormitory. The beds were from a Federal Housing Project and were, therefore, not entirely new. The Friends of St. Mary’s closed a successful first year of activities on April 15, when new officers were elected for the following year: President, Mrs. Max Golden; Vice President, Mrs. Loretta Hynes; Secretary, Mrs. Edward Vergal; and Treasurer, Mrs. L.G. Becker.

More commas in the routine of school life were the social affairs that give pause to the daily grind. The Valentine Party was a thing of beauty, sponsored as usual by Sister M. Christiana and sophomores. Patrick Hickey was elected King of Heart’s and Jacqueline Lee, Queen of Hearts. The freshman party piloted by Sister M. George was a well planned, interesting party in early spring. The Junior-Senior banquet and prom came early, too, and took a Jubilee beautiful, lovely, unforgettable. Sisters Fides and Maxine guided the entertainers and decorators, and should share the credit for a memorable evening. The Golden Jubilee, soon to follow, used the same decorations.

Apr. 23, ’50

Jubilee days are never to be forgotten. Events had come tumbling fifty years old; the ordinary course of daily living must be interrupted to give everyone time for retrospect, for revival or memories, for gratitude, and for jubilation. Periods, exclamation points, even question marks, punctuated these days. Sisters from every house in the Province, our dear Provincial herself, religious Alumnae from four other Orders, Sisters Antoinette, Geralda, and Cleopha from the East, and all but one of our boys in the priesthood, were here for the great day. April 23 began conspicuously with Solemn High Mass of Thanksgiving in St. Patrick’s Church at 9:00 o’clock. Everyone in the sanctuary, from celebrant to master of ceremonies, was a St. Mary’s boy: Father J. Clement Ryan was celebrants, assisted by Father Gene Gallagher, also a Jesuit, and Father Francis Price. Father Peter Price, S.J., preached the sermon for the occasion. Mr. Basil Price, S.J. and Bill Frachich, S.J. were masters of ceremonies.

After Mass, the alumni had breakfast at the M and M Café, downtown. St. Mary’s held open house for alumni and friends all through the day. As 2:00 P.M., the seniors and juniors, with representatives from every grade in the school, staged a pageant depicting the history of St. Mary’s for the past fifty years. Solemn Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament followed the pageant. Then a picture of all the guest was to be taken in front of the school. However, the planks used in the bleachers were faulty, one of them broke, several people were injured slightly, and the project was abandoned. Mrs. Bernard Matthews (Winifred Murray) received a serious injury to her arch and ankle, and was taken by ambulance to Lincoln. What with good doctors and the prayers of her fellow alumni and former teachers, it is hoped that she may be able to walk as well as ever.

At 6:00 o’clock, four hundred Alumni and guests were seated at banquet tables in the gymnasium, the second grade classroom, and in the two dining rooms. Dinner over, all assembled in the gym for a most interesting program. The speakers included Father Timothy O Sullivan, Father Eugene Gallagher, S.J. , and Sister M. Antoniette. Snatches of these speeches, as well as parts of the other interesting features of the day’s celebration, were broadcast over WCOM, Sioux City. A style show, depicting changes in women’s clothes through the past fifty years, was an interesting addition to the after dinner program. It was a tired but still jubilant and grateful group of faculty members, guests, and children that locked doors and turned out lights that night.

A lovely, one hundred page memory book, containing pictures from 1903 to 1950, memorialized the fifty years that Mother Magdalen’s  daughters have worked in this part of God’s own country.

Two additional causes for gratitude and joy are the financial gift received this year, and the recognition of our educational efforts by the North Central Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges. The former came in the form of a bequest from Mrs. Molly Kelly, a sister of Sister M. Cleopha Harrington. Mrs. Kelly had willed us a form in Illinois. This bequest enabled us to pay out roofing repair bill and other outstanding debts. The alumni also gave a substantial purse toward the purchase of the new pews for the Chapel. One troop of O’Neill’s Girl Scouts had given money toward re-decorating the Sanctuary. As a result, a beautiful Gothic arch in sepia and gold plus natural oak adorns the wall directly behind the altar and harmonizes with the design of windows and doors in the Chapel. It is a satisfying improvement.

April 30, ’50

A great benefactor of St. Mary’s, Mr. J.B. Ryan, father of the Reverent J. Clement Ryan, S.J., felt the hand of God, the Master Penman, put a period to his fruitful career. No one double but that the period became an exclamation point of ecstatic joy upon the realization of what was stored up for him as his eternal Commencement.

May 6 ’50             

On May 6, the Catholic Daughters held their annual Communion breakfast in the Academy dining room. The boarders served the breakfast.

May 8, ’50             

Sister M. Casilda Terney, all unwillingly put a period to her school year by developing a serious cold, which became virus pneumonia, and caused much anxiety and alarm before the danger was over. Sister had gone to Alliance to be with Sister Constance for the celebration of the latter’s Silver Jubilee. The doctors recognized the seriousness of her trouble and ordered complete rest. The prayers of the children back home helped to put her on the road to recovery. Mother Boniface and Mrs. Thelma Riley Cronk substituted for Sister until the end of the school year. Sister Rosemarie took over the care of the Altars in the parish church, a charge that Sister Casilda had performed faithfully for several years.

May 10, ’50             

On May 10 came the long awaited beginning of more frequent visits to our church and school by the Most Reverend Archbishop Gerald T. Bergan. This visit had the purpose of confirming 214 students and adults of St. Patrick’s Parish. After his circuit of the deanery, the Most Reverend Archbishop returned to St. Mary’s to say Mass for the Sisters and have breakfast here. He is kindly disposed marvels as the extents of the work being done by the Sisters, and gives promise of moral and spiritual support.

May 18, ’50

On May 18, Ascension Day, the little ones of Grade Two made their First Holy Communion. This group, plus the country children who came for two weeks of instruction, numbered 56. Their teacher, Sister M. Helenita, could feel as happy as they on their Great Day, for their hearts were ready because of her zeal and hard work.

On the same day, all the classes except Grade Two, held their picnics on outings. The different groups went different distances – all too nearly resorts or ranches. Not to establish a precedent but in appreciation for their cooperation in the Jubilee plans, the seniors were permitted to spend the week end in the Black Hills. It was a memorable trip. That it was a safe one, on highways easily the poorest in 48 States, was due to our Lady’s own protection. Her hand has warded off many dangers from the children of St. Mary’s, and we count on her continued and, spiritually and materially, in the years to come.

May 22, ’50             

May 22 was the climax of Sodality activities for the year. After a colorful procession through park and Church, Nancy Beha crowned the statue of the Blessed Mother, arranged in a prominent place in the Sanctuary.

May 23, ’50             

On the next evening, the eighth grade closed their elementary careers to become high school freshmen. Twenty four boys and girls received their certificates from Father Timothy O’Sullivan. Sister Jolenta could well be proud of another fast admirably accomplished.

May 24, ’50             

May 24 was Class Night. Twenty eight seniors, seven boys and 21 girls, played and acted for the last time on the high school stage. The next day, at 10:30 a.m., solemn graduation exercises were held in the parish church. The Very Reverend Father O’ Sullivan chose to be speaker and gave a touching and appropriate sermon. Solemn Benediction closed the service and put the final period to the Golden Jubilee school year.

June, 1950

Turning the key in the locks of highly polished classrooms at home, and bidding farewell to the new little friends in vacation schools, we filed away for future reference a Jubilee year-full of memories and started upon new guests. The records of the vacation schools read thus: Ewing’s total enrollment was 91; First Communicants, 12. Emmet gathered its 32 children for instruction, nut there was no one for First Holy Communion. The every Sunday classes held at St. Mary’s for country children boasted an enrollment of 73, twenty of whom joined the regular First Communicants in May. The total out-of-the-parish classes in which the Sisters gave instructions provided 168 souls. These, plus the 73 of the Sunday School classes, totals 241 children not enrolled at St. Mary’s, who receive the benefit of instruction.

In early June the Sisters reversed the teacher-pupil relationship and became students again, six at standard colleges, the other eleven in the schools of nature or experience. Sister Casilda had, since her earlier illness in May, been undergoing the not so pleasant experience, at St. Joseph Hospital in Alliance, of wrestling courageously with a series of attacks of rheumatic fever. The classes in this school of suffering have not adjourned. Sister Helenita and Ferdinand went to St. Ambrose, Davenport; Sister Floree to St. Mary, Xavier; Sister Chistiana brought home library credits from Loras; Sisters Fides and Anotnella went to Creighton for education with a capital “E”. Their real need was the renewal of Nebraska certificate. Sister Maxine devoted herself to the outdoors. The other stay-at-home majored in the domestic arts, helping among other things in the transformation of the dormitories in the fifty year old wing of the academy. These sleeping rooms are now places to dream as well as to dream in. The little girls’ dormitory is finished in postal shades of pink and blue, with white ceiling. The week-enders dormitory known as the Middle Dorm, is decorated in green and gold. The old, water- soaked plaster had been replaced by plaster board before the painters began their work. The hundred and one little extras that accompanied this venture offered only one area of endeavor for the “eager beavers” at home. Besides these, classroom desks were sanded and varnished, and a new classroom was literally built into, on out of, the old trunk room.

August 8, 1950

To harmonize with the material face-lifting in our surroundings, souls had to take on a new look too.  For the annual renewal process Father Jordan Schell, O.F.M., came from Chicago for the eight day retreat.  It closed on August 15.

August 23, 1950

A week later, on the Feast of The Immaculate Heart of Mary, we were permitted to have both day and night Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.  It was a soul-satisfying experience, and many people of the parish, both men and women, took their turns in prayer in the evening or at night.

September 2, 1950

The enrollment in September was normal or a little below; one hundred and forty seven registered for high school, fifty seven of whom were boarders; two hundred and ten kept the elementary teachers busy- thirteen of these were boarders.  An initiation party and several football games have given the children something to write home about; though, what makes the Sisters happier, is the entrance into the Minor Seminary of a senior, Allin Bosn.

Those who have been saddened by the weather beaten appearance of the once beautiful and impressive Sacred Heart statue in front of the Academy will be happy to learn that a new Deprato statue will be erected in its place in October.  The unveiling of the statue and the consecration of the school to Christ the King will take place at the same time.

October 4, 1950

Earth dons her jeweled brown robes in October to do honor to the brown robed Seraph of Asisi, present address Heaven.  Tranciscanism  sparkles all over the world.  St. Mary's reviewed the life of God's Troubadour by seeing his movie.  Though done in Spanish and carrying the English Translations, this film is inspiring and makes St. Francis vivid and real to the students.

October 7, 1950

On the Feast of the Holy Rosary the children, under the direction of Sister George, formed a living rosary in Church during evening devotions. It was a new experience of the children, formed a pretty  picture, and pleased the parents too. Daily rosary time for all students kept us "tuned in" to Mary's own station all during October.  Several weeks later, our Blessed Mother granted us a unique privilege.  The famous Pilgrim Virgin statue, blessed at Fatima, came to O'Neill.

November 24, 1950

The statue was enshrined in St. Mary's chapel from the time of the public veneration in Church until Time for mass the following morning.  People kept coming in and out all through the night.  Both the public services and the all night veneration did credit to complacent little O'Neill. The devotion of the people was apparent, and has continued. Many miracles of grace are on record in the rectory as well as in the sacred archives of Heaven. Since that visit, black rosaries are flourishing in both town and country. Holy Hour and public rosary devotion in honor of Mary, Queen of Peace, are being held at the request of the people. The parish is expirencing a spriritual renewal.

November 1, 1950

November 1, too, was marked by special devotion in honor of Mary's lastest Triumph, the declaration of the dogma of her Assumption.

October 22, 1950    

Eucharistic devotion did not take second place. The Eucharistic committee of the Sodality coached by Sister M. Christiana, held a very enlightning discusion on the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in the home. Then followed the Forty Hours devotion in the parish church, and the next week the blesing of the new lawn statue of the Sacred Heart.  This statue is a memorial to Mr. J.B. Ryan, benefactor through many years, whose death has been noted, and who left to St. Mary's a bequest of five thousand dollars.

October 26, 1950

An outdoor Enthronement ceremony for the entire school was held at that time. The Feast of Christ the King, with all day adoration, was an appropriate climax to these events. 

October 1950

Important guests during October were Mother M. Erica and Sister M. Lenore, here on hospital business, and Brother Amady, of his southwestern province, seeking candidates for the Christian Brothers.

A series of monthly card parties, begun in October by the Friends of St. Mary's succeed in raising the total amount due on sixty five new desks purchased for senior and freshmen classrooms. This total was over nine hundred dollars.

The fathers of grade and high school studentrs purchased a Viewflex Filmstrip projectors as well as a tape recorder for classroom use. Beginning in October with a movie of St. Francis, the religious and classical value of good films has been emphasized.

November 9 & 16, 1950

Other purposeful activities of the first semester were the seventh and eighth grade mission bazaar sponsored by Sister M. Jolenta; the Junior play "Maybe Love", directed very successfully by Mrs. Ira eore; and the music clinic in Scottsbluff on November 16 and 17. Six picked vocal and band students attended the latter.  Sister Flores from Denver met the students in Scottsbluff and directed their practices and their appearances.  Nationally known band and chorus leaders worked with the students and made this trip a real learning experience.  The students also enjoyed the delightful hospitality of St. Mary Hospital in Scottsbluff and of St. Agnes Academy in Alliance.

Dec. 5, 1950

Early in December, Mrs. Georgia Rasely treated both schols to a free showing of "Sherwood Forest", a continuation of the Robin Hood classic.  The Christmas spirit was in evidence in many other ways, too.  The annual coal collection was as generous as ever, amounting this year to over seventeen hundred dollars.

Dec. 6, 1950

On December 6, forty three candidates were received into the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Twenty three of these were members of the elementary Sodality last year and they merely renewed their Act of Consecration in a solemn manner. The reception was held in the Convent Chapel, and was followed by a luncheon and games for all the Sodalists.  Two weeks previously, 24 new members had been received into the Junior (elementary) Sodality.

Dec. 18, 1950

Before the two weeks' holiday at Christmas, the records note the usual formal Christmas banquet for the boarders, and a beautiful Christmas cantata, "The Prince of Peace", directed by Mother M. Boniface.  This Christmas enterprise included every child in the school and drew a record crowd.

Dec. 25, 1950 

Sister Flores came home from Denver for two weeks in order to practice the Mass for Christmas Midnight. The  beautiful candlelight processions and the performance of her four voice mixed choir did credit to Sister's efforts.

Dec. 31, 1950 

St. Mary's closes her Jubilee year in union with Heaven's grateful millions who sing, "Blessing and glory and wisdom and Thanksgiving and honor and power and strength to our God forever and ever. Amen"


Mother M. Boniface Hufnagel

Sister M. Helenita Langer

Sister M. Antonella Troshynski

Sister M. Flores Marquey

Sister M. Brigid Butler

Sister M. George Shoemaker

Sister M. Maxine von Brixen

Sister M. Edward Hupgen

Sister M. Jolenta Troshynski

Sister M. Laurita Archer

Sister M. Fides Paull

Sister M. Ferdinand Fields

Sister M. Christiana Keber

Sister M. Rosemarie Miller

Sister M. Serafica Behm

Sister M. Anthony Deginhart


Sister M. Lucy King


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