Celebrating 125 Years of Lisle Benedictine Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery
Day 1: February 2, 2020
Intro: Mother Nepomucene Jaeger
It was February 2, 1895 that Mother Nepomucene Jaeger, arrived in Chicago from St. Mary’s Convent in St. Joseph, Pennsylvania. Sisters Mary Zita Matous and Sister Mary Benedicta Hruby from St Scholastica’s convent in Chicago joined her and together with Abbot Nepomucene Jaeger celebrated their first Mass and thus began our foundation.
Day 2: February 3, 2020
It was in Norcia, Italy that history records the birth of twins, Saint Benedict and Saint Scholastica in 480 AD. Unfortunately, in 2016 Italy experienced many earthquakes and the Basilica of Saint Benedict was badly damaged but is being restored.
Day 3: February 4, 2020
Krempasky, Sister M. Ursula b. 2/24/1885 d. 2/4/1914
Sister Ursula was born in Hungary and entered the Monastery on October 18, 1911. She was a tall, stately person, a diligent worker, loved cooking for the monks and students at St. Procopius College, but was one of the Sisters who was afflicted during the T.B. epidemic and died at the age of 29.
Day 4: February 5, 2020
Hornicek, Sister Mary Apollonia b. 11/29/1891 d. 2/4/1986
Sister Mary Apollonia came from Czechoslovakia. After spending a few years in the kitchen at St. Procopius College, she was assigned to St. Joseph Orphanage to prepare and serve meals for the Orphans. Her final place was Sacred Heart Monastery where she was a seamstress and helped in making altar breads. She liked to stimulate her heart and mind by praying in the quietness of the Chapel or reading in her room. In her later years she suffered from hypothermia and was seen bundled up for winter even in the summer.
Day 5: February 6, 2020
Nouza, Sister Mary Antonia b. 10/9/1886 d. 2/6/1953
Sister Mary Antonia was a sister of Father Anthony Nouza, O.S.B. and was religiously devoted to living the Holy Rule of St. Benedict. Coming from St. Vitus Parish in Chicago where our Benedictine Sisters began to teach, she was also assigned to that parish school for most of her teaching mission. In her conscientious teaching, she tried to instill faith and gratitude in her pupils’ young lives as well as modeling these qualities for them.
Day 6: February 7, 2020
Jaskovec, Sister M. Hedvika b. 5/10/1894 d. 2/7/1919
Sister M. Hedvika was a good soul who emigrated from Austria-Hungary during World War I. After making her first vows she was sent to work in the kitchen at St. Procopius College. Contracting influenza, which was raging at this time, she became ill and died at the age of 25.
Day 7: February 8, 2020
Kadlub, Sister M. Geraldine b. 12/6/1911 d. 2/8/1937
Sister M. Geraldine entered the Monastery at age 20 but came down with diphtheria before making first vows. She recovered after a month in isolation and was sent to three mission places in the next five years. After making her final vows she appeared healthy but two years later she became ill with T.B. and died at age 25.
Day 8: February 9, 2020
Sladek, Sister Mary Agnes b. 11/20/1895 d. 2/9/1942
Sister Mary Agnes was meek, humble and firm like a lamb just as her name “Agnes” indicates. She was happy to teach and most of her teaching was at St. Vitus School. However, her last assignment was Holy Trinity School in Haugen, Wisconsin where she was dearly loved but died unexpectedly there.
Day 9: February 10, 2020
Feast of St. Scholastica b. circa 480
Scholastica was the sister of St. Benedict of Norcia, and is revered as the patron saint of Benedictine women. She is said to have established a convent at Piumarola in Italy, in accordance with the principles of the monastic rule established by her brother at nearby Monte Cassino.
Day 10: February 11, 2020
Sluka, Sister Mary Jerome b. 11/9/1893 d. 2/9/1977
Sister Mary Jerome was an inspiration and model for everyone and is remembered for her fresh bread and bakery here in the Monastery. She was like a benevolent Grandma to the children at St. Joseph Orphanage where the children delighted to be with her and enjoy her treats. While at Holy Mount School in Cicero, she would later tell about how the number of students was larger than expected, so, to her dismay, she was asked to leave her cooking duties and help supervise the children. She always enjoyed looking forward to visiting her sister, Sister Mary Joella who was a Notre Dame Sister in Wilton, Connecticut.
Day 11: February 12, 2020
Wellik, Sister Louis Mary (a.k.a. Sister Ludvika) b. 6/21/1910 d. 2/9/2003
Sister Louis Mary was from Iowa and was introduced to the Lisle Benedictines through Father Raymond, a Monk from St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle. She fervently devoted herself to directing or working in the Monastery kitchen. She was dearly loved for her home-spun wisdom. When she retired, she would often greet visitors and in her innocent way questioning them saying: “Should I know you?”
Day 12: February 13, 2020
Cisler, Sister Mary Frances b. 9/21/1882 d. 2/14/1973
Sister Mary Frances arrived to experience those laborious, pioneering days when the community was not yet put together and was located on 18th
and Paulina Street in Chicago. First of all, coming from a Wisconsin farm she was not impressed with the clamorous city of Chicago. The house they lived in was cold. Keeping warm meant they had to find kindling wood to stoke the fires, money was scarce and the lack of basic needs was quite despairing. The move to Lisle continued to be a hardship but at least it was a promise of possibilities. Only because of her will to serve God was she able to overcome the hardships, adapt and flourish in her future.
Day 13: February 14, 2020
Heble, Mary Rita b. 1/2/1906 d. 2/14/1988 (Aunt of Sister Judith Ann Heble)
Sister Mary Rita goes down in history with a perfect attendance record of teaching for fifty years without being absent even one day. Though she was a task master teacher, it is interesting to note that students would come back to tell her that her discipline helped them be organized and for that they were grateful. After Sister retired from teaching, she continued tutoring and catechizing, “keeping her hand to the plow” until the Lord called her home.
Day 14: February 15, 2020
Sopkowicz, Sister Mary Gemma b. 9/3/1912 d. 2/15/2005
Sister Mary Gemma adapted easily to every new assignment she was given. First she did culinary work for 13 years and then was a teacher for 21 years. Parents still remember the clever motivation skills she used in teaching their children. After teaching, she became a sacristan with Sister Regis at the Monastery Chapel, a ministry they held with great reverence and delight. Sister was excited about everything she did and in her free time used her nimble fingers to crochet baby blankets and other beautiful items either as gifts or for the craft shop.
Day 15: February 16, 2020
The first Benedictine Monastery, Monte Cassino, was bombed several times and each time rebuilt. This is the restored Monastery after World War II. It is here where Benedict wrote his Rule and saw the soul of his sister, Scholastica, ascend to heaven.
Day 16: February 17, 2020
Jaeger, Mother Mary Nepomucene b. 12/15/1860 d. 2/17/1933 (First Prioress- 1895-1919)
In view of a need of the Czech immigrants in America settling in Chicago to have Priests and Sisters who spoke their language, the German Monastery of St. Vincent in Latrobe, Pennsylvania appointed Reverend Nepomucene Jaeger to be the Abbot of St. Procopius Abbey in Chicago to serve the Czech people of Chicago. He then obtained the community’s permission from St. Mary’s Convent in Pittsburg to let his sister, who was a member of that convent, to come to Chicago to start a new community for Sisters as well. His sister became Mother Nepomucene who officially became the foundress and Prioress of what is now Sacred Heart Monastery in Lisle. Her term lasted from 1895 to 1919. However, the founding location was on 18th
and Paulina Street in Chicago near St. Vitus Parish. Today, our Benedictine Community owes Mother Nepomucene Jaeger a tremendous amount of gratitude for the rigors she and the founding Sisters endured in the establishing process.
Day 17: February 18, 2020
Ruzika, Sister Mary Georgiana b. 9/16/1918 d. 2/18/1989
Sister Mary Georgiana made every effort to live community life in spite of her health. Being creative and someone who loved to be with little children, she was assigned to be a kindergarten teacher at St. Joseph Orphanage. When it closed in 1956, she became a primary teacher in our other schools. After she retired from teaching, she returned to the Monastery where she enjoyed craft work producing items for the gift shop.
Day 18: February 19, 2020
Machala, Sister Roberta Anne (a.k.a. Sister Mary Mechtilde) b. 2/19/1920 b. 2/19/1976
Prior to being in our community, Sister Roberta Anne served in the U.S. Navy (WAVES) where she worked as a typist and a clerk with classified information. After her honorable discharge, she began to correspond with her companion Texan, Sister Mary Martina who was instrumental in Sister Roberta Anne’s entry into our community. Sister Roberta Anne taught in several of our parochial schools through the years before she responded to take care of her Mother who was in poor health in San Antonio. While there, she associated herself with the Benedictine Sisters in Boerne, Texas who later supported her in her ill health where she died.
Day 19: February 20, 2020
Jindra, Sister Mary Philomena. 3/13/1878 d. 2/20/1953
Sister Mary Philomena was the first musician to enter our community. For several years, Sister taught Immigrant children three languages, English, Czech and Slovak, along with being the Church organist which was a hardship for her. Later when other musicians arrived, her load was lightened and she enjoyed teaching the three languages very much. She was culture conscious and followed the celebration of feast days according to their particular customs.
Day 20: February 21, 2020
Novatril, Sister Mary Carmela b. 1/7/1889 d. 2/21/1965
Sister Mary Carmela is remembered for her many acts of charity especially for visiting the sick. She herself had poor eyesight and understood others’ infirmities. Her ministry was to make coifs; the pleated part of the headdress of the habit. Her talent for mastering this art made her the most capable person to teach other Sisters to learn this art.
Day 21: February 22, 2020
Lidinsky, Sister Mary Eleanore b. 12/17/1906 d. 2/22/1978
Sister Mary Eleanore was a very competent person. Her thoughtful consideration for others and her determination in performing her duties with skill were admirable. Her leadership proficiency was notable and after teaching in parochial schools for several years, she became principal of St. Joan of Arc and then at St. Joseph Orphanage. For her last assignment, she was appointed Sub-Prioress and Secretary to the Prioress. When asked what her most rewarding place was, she answered that the Orphanage was the hardest but the most rewarding place.
Day 22: February 23, 2020
Camsky, Sister Mary Matilda b. 5/23/1886 d. 2/22/1979
Sister Mary Matilda was born in Czechoslovakia. Her ministry assignment in community was to teach in our elementary schools. Later, she became novice mistress and then superior of St. Benedict’s Home for the Aged. Her devoted and untiring care won her love, respect and gratitude from the residents. When she became ill and was hospitalized, she became the favorite of the nurses due to her patient and cheerful endurance while suffering.
Day 23: February 24, 2020
Benedict was sent to Rome to study, but instead he spent 3 years in a cave in Subiaco, Italy discerning his vocation. Here he birthed the life of what we know today as Benedictine Religious Monastic life (Monastic means living in community, seeking God under a Prioress/Abbot and the Rule of St. Benedict).
Day 24: February 25, 2020
Cerny, Sister Mary Leona b. 5/2/1899 d. 2/8/1985
Sister Mary Leona, as a Novice in Community, already showed a high level of maturity by being conscientious and hard-working. She amplified these qualities throughout her monastic life by “listening with the ear of her heart” to God and to others. She was faithful to community liturgies every day and spent private time in prayer as well. In her ministries of teaching, working as a sacristan and living a devoted community life, she was an inspiration to everyone. In her retirement she became popular for making many dolls by using soap bottles to be sold in the craftshop.
Day 25: February 26, 2020
Hruby, Sister M. Benedicta b. 5/15/1877 d. 2/27/1902
Sister Benedicta was a postulant (person in training to be a religious sister) at St. Scholastica’s on the north side of Chicago. However, being of Czech origin, she was sent to live with the other Czech Sisters on 18th
and Paulina Street in Chicago. She proved to be a fervent religious, not being dismayed by the poverty around her. The Sisters who lived with her would tell how carefully she measured patches for mending, how she saved soap when washing and how observant she was in turning off lights. We can hardly realize what her self-sacrificing spirit meant in saving money to provide to build our beautiful, present Monastery in Lisle though she never saw it. She died of T.B. at age 24.
Day 26: February 27, 2020
Hruby, Sister Mary Cyrilla b. 9/9/1882 d. 2/27/1956
Sister Mary Cyrilla was a pioneer in the years of establishing the groundwork of our community while in Chicago. Just as the Sisters were about to move to Lisle, she was appointed novice mistress. This meant that she was to teach the young applicants who desired to be Sisters. She was indeed a role model of Benedictine life for them who needed to learn the basics of prayer and how to live the lifestyle according to the Rule of St. Benedict. In her retirement years, still capable of teaching, she was sent to the Orphanage where she taught the orphan girls the rudiments and fancy work of sewing.
Day 27: February 28, 2020
Komarovsky, Sister Mary Hilaria b. 9/13/1888 d. 2/28/1963
Sister Mary Hilaria came from Czechoslovakia where she served as a nurse during World War I. After coming to the U.S., she learned about our community from a Redemptorist Priest who spoke Czech. Being gifted with the ability to do many things, she worked in the monastery as a seamstress, a nurse and was an expert at mending shoes. Finally, she was sent to the old St. Benedict’s Home for the Aged where she experienced many hardships for fifteen years. While there, she did the cooking as well as being the maintenance “man.” Throughout her days, she was dearly loved and respected as a hard worker and peacemaker.
Day 28: February 29, 2020
Benedict and His Gifts to Western Europe: Scriptorium
Benedict looked at a war-torn crumbling society seeking power and selfish pleasure and offered faithfulness to the Gospel. In a society convinced war is the answer, Benedict preached love of neighbor, doing good to those who do harm, and overcoming evil with good. To an uneducated society Benedict brought education in the arts and sciences by establishing a “School of the Lord’s Service” and providing a “Scriptorium.”
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