Celebrating 125 Years of Lisle Benedictine Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery
Day 304: December 1, 2020
Sedlacek, Sister Mary Beatrice b. 11/2/1887 d. 12/1/1964
Sister Mary Beatrice was one of the early pioneers about whom an early history had not been written. Later, Sister Martina, who had worked with her in the orphanage was asked to compile memories of her. Sister Martina wrote that most of Sister Mary Beatrice’s work was at St. Joseph’s Orphanage where she took care of pre-school children. She was described as a short, joyful Sister who had a lot of patience and was very devoted to the little children in her care.
Day 305: December 2, 2020
Jindrich, Sister Mary Florence b. 4/25/1913 d. 12/1/1993
Sister Mary Florence had a zest for life, loved music, had a lovely, trained, soprano voice and was able to praise God while leading the Sisters as a cantor for most of her life at Divine Office or Mass. She particularly loved to sing Gregorian chant, but out of chapel, was ready to sing any popular tune at the spur of the moment. Many of her favorite years of service were spent as a freshman advisor and English teacher (she loved Shakespeare) at Sacred Heart Academy but she also enjoyed teaching on the elementary level. She gave herself wholeheartedly to teaching and developed projects that kept her students highly motivated.
Day 306: December 3, 2020
Transfer of Our Sacred Heart Statue-2005
The Sacred Heart Statue (donated by Frank J. and Anna Stava in 1931) had its original place at the front of Sacred Heart Academy, which is now the front entrance of Benedale, the assisted-living portion of Villa St. Benedict. In this picture, due to the statues’ name, the Sacred Heart statue is being fittingly relocated to the entrance of Sacred Heart Monastery, the former gym. You see the Sisters along with employees and friends gathered for a prayer ritual of blessing of this sacred image in its new, identifying location.
Day 307: December 4, 2020
Kacmarek, Sister Mary Martha b. 12/4
Sister Mary Martha is the newest member of the Byzantine Benedictine Sisters in Warren, Ohio. She was born in Chicago and was baptized and chrismated (confirmed) at St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church in Chicago. Her pastor, Father Bereczky, invited the Sisters of St. Basil the Great from Uniontown, PA to open a parochial school at the parish. The Sisters also moderated the Sodality of Our Lady for young ladies at the parish, and it is there that Sr. Mary Martha had contact with these Sisters. After graduating from college, she entered the Sisters of St. Basil the Great. However, health issues prevented her from staying. By 1966, she regained her health, resumed her interest in pursuing religious life, and joined the new Byzantine Benedictine Community being formed in Warren. There, she continued teaching math on all levels, gave piano lessons, and visited the sick parishioners. Presently, she has moved to Villa Maria in Pennsylvania where she is enjoying her new life as a resident and is grateful for the care she is receiving from the Sisters of the Humility of Mary.
Day 308: December 5, 2020
Aerial View of Villa St. Benedict and Sacred Heart Monastery–2005
The Y shaped building with a dark green roof seen in the background is the Villa Center with 140 available units. In the far right with grey roofs, you see the Villa homes; these have 56 available units. Both the Villa Center and Villa homes comprise the new construction of Villa St. Benedict. In the long building with the light green roof is the assisted-living section called Benedale and has 51 available units and there are 14 available units in Memory Care, called Abbey Lane. The chapel extends at the center of Benedale to the right, which was renovated in 2005 as well, thanks to the help of generous donors. The Monastery stands apart in the forefront also with the light green roof, (the former gym), and the brown roof to the right, covers the garages for the Monastery.
Day 309: December 6, 2020
Our Former Archives Room
Important documents, pictures and artifacts of our History are stored in our archives. In the first picture, the archives room was located on the second floor of the former academy building near the Chapel. In this former space, we see the bulletin board displays of historical events, which Sister Celine at that time made visible to help us stay abreast of what life was like before our modern times. The cabinets below the bulletin board were made-to-order by Sister Mary Bratrsovsky in our carpenter shop, which added an artful finish to the room. Since the move from our Academy building to the former gym, our archives are now stored in a remote section on the garden level. However, some artifacts are on display in the cabinet pictured here or in the other cabinets that Sister Mary constructed on our main floor near the front entrance of the Monastery.
Day 310: December 7, 2020
Monastery Guest Homes-2005
These duplex homes built to welcome guests have helped us to fulfill St. Benedict’s manner of receiving guests by providing us with a place for guests to stay. In his Rule, Benedict states that all guests should be received as Christ with all courtesy and love. First of all, we are to pray with the guests and be grateful for their presence. The guests are to be fed and given adequate service and accommodations. These homes have provided our guests with home-like conveniences and have been a blessing for our mission of hospitality. Many people have had an opportunity to share their life and faith with us and we with them.
Day 311: December 8, 2020
Francl, Sister Mary Generosa b. 9/10/1918 d. 12/8/2008 (Sister of Sister Marie Therese-- a.k.a. Sister Innocencia)
Sister Mary Generosa was a journalist with a Masters’ Degree in English. With her background, she was able to teach English at Sacred Heart College in Alabama as well as at our local Benedictine University, having already taught in our elementary schools, and having been principal of Sacred Heart Academy. Thanks to her, she was instrumental in starting our Lisle Benedictine Women
magazine that continues to be published today. She spent her later years as a librarian at St. James and St. Scholastica Schools. Her special devotion to the Blessed Mother inspired her to share her zeal by corresponding with devotees of Mary in other parts of our country.
Day 312: December 9, 2020
Blessings of the Great Room in the Villa
The Great Room is the latest and largest area constructed in the Villa. Though the pandemic was unexpected, what would they have done without this room? It is well utilized as it provides social distancing space and is in demand constantly for myriads of activities each day such as virtual lectures or entertainment as well as movies and exercise classes. Here we see Tammy Bruner leading Benedale residents observing Covid-19 Rules- sitting six feet apart and wearing masks while holding their signs of gratitude. To whom are they saying “Thank You?” It is to the Villa St. Benedict staff, who have protected them from allowing the dread virus to enter the building, to the Sisters and all who invoke the Lord daily, to keep them patient in their isolation, to the students who have become pen-pals with them, to those who have sewed pretty, fabric masks for them and to all who have in anyway showed their love and concern by keeping in touch with them. How grateful they are!
Day 313: December 10, 2020
Blessing of Villa St. Benedict’s Crucifixes-2005
Bishop Joseph Imesch, the Bishop of the Joliet Diocese in 2005, along with our chaplain Father Becket, celebrated the blessing of crucifixes for Villa St. Benedict. After the blessing, the Sisters or employees, who were assigned to distribute the crucifixes, took them to the resident’s general areas of occupancy to hang on the walls. This Catholic image of Jesus on the Cross is a sacred reminder of the wondrous love of Jesus who carried his cross and died to show us his bountiful love.
Day 314: December 11, 2020
Koliha, Sister Mary Lioba b. 1/6/1884 d. 12/11/1959
Sister Mary Lioba was a highly respected Sister expressly for the wisdom she shared which was unique and trustworthy. As a principal, she gave the Sisters, who were teaching with her, encouragement and reminded them of their Christian responsibility to make character formation in their classes a priority. She inspired the students to a higher sphere of thinking; already being ahead of her times. Bishop Grutka, a former student, gave her high praise for being instrumental in inspiring him in his vocation to the priesthood with her deep-seated wisdom. Besides teaching, Sister was an artist known for her liturgical symbols and for sewing these designs on the priests’ vestments.
Day 315: December 12, 2020
Solemn Chapel Rededication-December 18, 2005
After our chapel was renovated to meet the needs of our resident population, a solemn rededication of the chapel took place in the framework of the Holy Mass. Here we see Bishop Imesch blessing the baptismal font. He is assisted by Sister Benita, sub-prioress and Sister Judith Ann, prioress. The whole community including the Sisters, Oblates and employees had a specific role to play in the rededication by acting as Eucharistic ministers, lectors or in assisting in the blessings of the Bishop. The altar and walls were anointed, the assembly was incensed, a large, white cloth was carried in to cover the altar, the new organ was blessed and during the offertory presentation of bread and wine, several people carried in meaningful gifts to adorn the altar of sacrifice. (Continued on December 13)
Day 316: December 13, 2020
Chapel Rededication Continued-Offertory Gifts
The highlight of the offertory procession of gifts brought to the altar featured our African Sisters, Sister Beatrice and Sister Afra who carried their gift of a poinsettia on their head while doing a slow, sacred dance. It was a spectacular site for our American eyes as we wondered how they managed to keep the flowerpot on their head without dropping it. After Mass, Bishop Imesch remarked that he would never look at a poinsettia the same way again. How true that was for all of us!
Day 317: December 14, 2020
Lesak, Sister Mary Rosalia b. 9/2/1904 d. 12/14/1991
Native of Bohemia, Sister Mary Rosalia came to the U.S. as a teenager. In her early twenties she joined our Benedictine community after having worked for an American family who embraced her for her cheerful manner and outgoing personality. In Community she was exceedingly active with an attitude to accomplish her mission. She served as a sacristan, cooked in the kitchens of our parish convents, always honored for her extra-special, light and fluffy dumplings, baked altar breads and prepared them for shipping to parishes and last of all, baked over a 100 Lamb Cakes for Easter every year, which were shared not only with the Sisters, but with the Alumnae, the Abbey Monks and the Oblates who served the Benedictine Chinese Missions.
Day 318: December 15, 2020
Kallus, Sister Josephine (Sister of Sisters Andrea, Angelica, Mary Agnes and Virginia) b. 12/15
As a former hairdresser, Sister Josephine took pride in keeping the beauty shop in order and when retired, still liked to be called to set a Sister’s hair. She enjoyed using her culinary skills as well spending time to cut up fruit and always presenting an attractive platter to the delight of the Sisters. Always an early bird, she was known to be at Divine Office and Mass way before time and was seen engaged in serene prayer; basking in the presence of the Lord. In her retirement, she worked on puzzles and participated in the Villa St. Benedict activities as well. Now as a resident at St. Patrick’s in Naperville, she continues to be concerned about others and is a delightful person cheering up those who need sunshine in their life.
Sister Josephine peacefully entered into eternal life on December 20, 2020.
Day 319: December 16, 2020
Lenoch, Sister Magdalene b. 2/17/1872 d. 12/15/1928
Sister Magdalene was tall, slender, reserved and calm; reflective of her beautiful, prayerful soul. She enjoyed working in the St. Procopius College kitchen, at St. Joseph’s Orphanage kitchen as well as helping the Novice Mistress at the Monastery. During recreation, she would inspire the Sisters by relating stories about the lives of the saints or talking about other edifying topics related to her beloved Bohemia. Being a model of practicing the virtues of the Holy Rule, it was observingly said that if the Rule of St. Benedict
were ever lost, it could be rewritten from observing Sister’s conduct.
Day 320: December 17, 2020
Trefny, Sister Mary Celestine b. 5/1/1887 d. 12/18/1959
Sister Mary Celestine was a prized seamstress sewing the children’s clothes at St. Joseph’s Orphanage. She was very neat about everything she did and taught the orphans to be the same. During her supervision hours of the orphans at play, she maintained a jolly disposition and angelic patience. Like St. John Bosco, she excused the children’s shenanigans except if they were hurtful to themselves or others; only then she would step in. In her golden years at the Monastery she worked with the fruits and vegetables grown on our farm preparing them for canning or for serving at meals. The Sisters found out later that her brother died on the same day as she did. Their eternal joy must have been doubly blessed.
Day 321: December 18, 2020
Jasurda, Sister Benita b. 7/11/1928 d. 12/18/2018
Sister Benita was an amazing person who brought joy and laughter into her daily ministry. Why would she? Well, because she knew that JESUS was JOY and that was who she wanted to be like. Thus, she chose monastic living which was dear to her heart. Born on the feast of St. Benedict and named for St. Benedict she was linked to Benedictine prayer forms: the Divine Office, Lectio Divina and Centering Prayer. Actually, she was the contact person for the local Contemplative Prayer Outreach
. She was the first woman president of the Rotary Club, the first woman campus minister at Benedictine University, Sub-Prioress at the monastery and was in charge of the formation of the Oblate Program for lay members who wanted to live the Benedictine values. Her goal in life was to live in the present moment and above all, trust in God.
Day 322: December 19, 2020
New Doors in Remembrance of Our 125th Anniversary
These new doors are the Holy Doors that give a finished look to the entrance of our sacred oratory. Made of solid red wood, the window-framed garlands of grapevines in darker wood symbolize the biblical concept of God’s gifts of abundance and prosperity implying the many graces we receive in the presence of God in the chapel especially during the Eucharistic celebration (Holy Mass). Our brother Monks from St. Procopius Abbey contributed to this gift and we are most grateful to them. Mike Holtz of Der Holtzmacher created these doors and Suburban Door Check and Lock Service, Inc. installed these beautiful, fire-rated doors.
Day 323: December 20, 2020
Pavlik, Sister Barbara b. 12/20
Sister Barbara treasures her family upbringing in the Byzantine Catholic Church which is steeped in the tradition of feasting and fasting. In her beginnings with the Sisters at Sacred Heart Monastery in Lisle, she developed a community spirit of Prayer and Work: “Ora et Labora.” Now, as a Benedictine Sister, she continues to create a quiet space within her heart to hear God’s calling in the prayer and work form of the Eastern Rite Catholic Church. Living in a small community she has served in every possible role: in education, administration, clerical and book keeping work, catechetical training and is now the administrator of Queen of Heaven Monastery as well as the Catechetical coordinator of SS. Peter and Paul Byzantine Catholic Church in Warren, Ohio. She has even authored a religion education book series called: “God With Us
” which is used in Byzantine parishes. She is very happy to be where she knows God wants her to be as she gradually moves into retirement.
Day 324: December 21, 2020
Polhorsky, Sister Leocadia b. 8/13/1893 d. 12/23/1917
Sister Leocadia had a fervent desire to become a vowed Benedictine, but was a sickly person. She had been an orphan at St. Joseph’s Orphanage and wanted to continue being with the Sisters. She tried hard to follow the schedule of the monastery. She did not like to talk about her health because she was afraid she would not be allowed to make vows. However, when her diagnosis of Asthma became serious, she affirmed with gratitude the love the sisters gave her and fortified with the sacraments, died at age 24.
Day 325: December 22, 2020
Suk, Sister Mary Vaclava b. 4/22/1887 d. 12/23/1955
Sister Mary Vaclava was childlike and petite and had a satisfied spirit with everything she was told to do. Most of her days were spent working at St. Procopius College kitchen but she was ready to go wherever. Having come from Bohemia, she had a special, fervent devotion to the Infant of Prague and was a meditative soul. Though she frequently suffered from Asthma attacks, she was very patient and long-suffering.
Day 326: December 23, 2020
Spinler, Sister Mary Adella b. 7/5/1899 d. 12/23/1982 (Sister of Sisters Milburg, Bertha, Rose Alice, and Wendeline)
Sister Mary Adella started out teaching in our elementary schools but soon became hearing impaired and had to discontinue. Being a practical, humble, hard-working person she was happy to return to gardening, managing our large laundry and raising poultry on the farm; duties she was used to when growing up on their Minnesota farm. She was such a dear soul who kept up with her daily horarium of prayer. She also was very helpful and willing to introduce the young Sisters to her outdoor work which she managed so conscientiously. Her expertise and kindness were so appreciated especially in the heavy seasons of manual labor.
Day 327: December 24, 2020
A Window Gift for our 125th Anniversary at the Chapel Entrance
This new stained-glass window was designed by Sister Emmanuel Pieper, a Benedictine from St Walburg Monastery in Covington, Kentucky, crafted by Marie Tatina, our friend from California who has created other windows in our Chapel and installed by our maintenance man, Eric Shumaker. The blessing of the window took place on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in June. The window design shows our Sacred Heart Monastery logo- a Heart signed with a Cross in red against a light blue significant cross the length and width in the center of the window and ornamental designs filling the spaces on the sides. Thank you to all of our talented artists whose work glorifies the Lord. May all those who pass by on their way to our Sacred Heart Chapel be reminded of the cross that Jesus carried for us with a loving heart, a sacrificial gift of our salvation!
Day 328: December 25, 2020
Schafer, Sister Hermenegilde b. 2/20/1900 d. 12/25/1995
Sister Hermenegilde, along with Sisters Electa and Norberta, left their native homeland of Moravia inspired by Abbot Procopius Neuzil, OSB from our local Abbey, to further the cause of Christ. The three immigrants were going to be formed in Lisle to be missionaries in Russia as Communism had taken over and religion could no longer be practiced. However, the overthrow of Communism was not forthcoming and the three Sisters were soon enveloped into the mainstream of community living. After having professed their vows of Obedience, Stability and Conversion of Morals, Sister Hermenegilde, being a seamstress of quality, became the community seamstress needed to sew the Sisters’ habits who numbered well over a hundred at that time. Though she served as Novice Mistress for several years as well, she was highly motivated and capable of self-educating herself in every role she played.
Day 329: December 26, 2020
Brejcha, Sister Marie DeLourdes b. 10/27/1902 d. 12/27/1995
How could anyone forget Sister Marie DeLourdes who was a born actress? Well, she loved to dress up as some odd character she invented and entertain us with her quirky, imaginative and very funny performances that filled some of our days with hilarity. Normally however, she was thoughtful and serious known for her typing ability and secretarial work, her teaching in commercial school, and as a well-versed teacher of speech and drama at Sacred Heart Academy. For her hobby, which was collecting angel figurines, she symbolically gave them charge of neglected children especially children she heard about or knew. These collectables reminded her of Psalm 148-“Praise God, all ye Angels, Praise God all creation---” Actually, she loved all the Psalms of praise best of all.
Day 330: December 27, 2020
Choi, Sister Johanna b. 12/27
Our little, Korean Sister, Sister Johanna, was happy to become a United States citizen several years ago. In her growing-up years, she experienced the horrors of living during the Korean War. In coming to the United States to visit her sister and brothers who had emigrated from Korea, she too decided to stay. Then, through the boundless mercy of God, she was led to our Sacred Heart Monastery in 1999, and has been happy here ever since. Now, with her natural talent in music, she tirelessly and delightfully prepares the daily basics of our Liturgy, using her beautiful voice to cantor and is always mindful of St. Benedict’s prayerful instruction: “Let nothing be preferred to the work of God;” a message that is central to the life of a Benedictine Sister.
Day 331: December 28, 2020
Pallus, Sister Mary Mechtilde b. 7/3/1873 d. 12/29/1946
Sister Mary Mechtilde was diligent as she worked in food and cleaning services in our parish convents or in the Orphanage. She learned to live through the poverty of the early days when there was so much scarcity of money and food. With her devotion to her Benedictine patron, Saint Mechtilde, whose life reminded her to stay cheerful and to love everyone and be grateful, made her someone to admire. Her final days were offered to God with love and much patient suffering as she died due to cancer of the esophagus.
Day 332: December 29, 2020
Harvanek, Sister Mary Agatha b. 7/15/1895 d. 12/29/1977 (Sister of Sisters Raymond, Cecilia, Xaveria and Innocencia)
Sister Mary Agatha had a long and fruitful ministry. She taught for 33 years in our elementary, parish schools and was principal for 22 years. She believed in having well-ordered discipline in the classroom and was very helpful to the young Sisters who were coming in as first-year teachers. She spent time with them to help organize their lesson plans and provide them with practical procedures in classroom management. She was single-minded and cheerful in her purpose of serving God and in her ministry wanted to be friends with everyone even with those who thought she was too strict.
Day 333: December 30, 2020
Red Oak Tree Sculpture Gift- From Kevin Gray
Kevin Gray, a nephew of Sister Carolyn Sieg, OSB, has used his scientific knowledge of trees, carpentry and artistic design skills to preserve and transform a tree from our grounds into this beautiful memorial gift for our 125th
anniversary. As a tree cutter, he estimated that the tree he cut down from our grounds had graced our campus since 1834, even before our Sisters came to Lisle. He decided he would set up a memorial at the same location in which the tree had been growing. As you can see, he first made a table from the tree leaving the bark to encase its natural shape of a heart, hoisting it up with smaller logs in an artful arrangement. Then, he split another part of the log in half lengthwise, to form and sculpture a bench elevated by smaller logs as well. He knew this lovely setting would be conducive for the Sisters to use as a peaceful site for Reflexio. To complete the project, he laid a brick foundation and planted flower plants around it. This gift is conveniently located off the walking path that intersects the driveway of our east monastery entrance from Maple Avenue. Our Sisters are thrilled and grateful to Kevin for this magnificent treasure he so thoughtfully created for us.
Pictured left to right: Sister Jo Anne Form, Sister Mary Bratrsovsky, Kevin Gray, and Sister Carolyn Sieg
Day 334: December 31, 2020
Konopa, Sister Mary Eupharsia b. 10/18/1896 d. 12/31/1952 (Sister of Sisters Juliana and Colomba)
Sister Mary Euphrasia had a pleasant disposition and was very approachable. She applied herself dutifully as she loved teaching children. Being an artist, she was able to assist the other classroom Sisters who were teachers with their art projects or classroom decorations. Her last year of teaching was interrupted during the Christmas vacation as she died suddenly leaving an empty space in our hearts as well as in the hearts of the children she taught.
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