Knights of Columbus Assisting Historic Catholic Convent
September 9, 2019 | Written by Knights of Columbus Marian Council #3827
Eight Catholic nuns, dressed in traditional black and white habits, five from Peru, have been living in the convent for a year and are faced with having to remodel and re-roofing it.
They succeed the Order of the Poor Claire sisters who have moved to Rochester, after having lived a life of prayer and service in the monastery since 1954.
The new order is Pro Ecclesia Sancta, founded in Peru “to live and promote the vocation to holiness in the Church, through the spirituality of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.”
The sisters are getting special help from the Marian Council of the Knights of Columbus based in Bloomington. Grand Knight Ned O’Doherty says the Council has donated some money to the cause and plans to donate more on an ongoing basis.
The Knights have been helping in other ways. Bill Weldon, Gene Grabel and Jim Haeg are painting, washing windows, repairing floor tile and replacing shingles.
Richard DeGonda , a long-time member of the Knights of Columbus, met Sister Laura at Nativity of Mary church where she learned that his hobby was wood working. She said some old pews in the chapel needed refinishing and prevailed on him to do that work.
DeGonda has refinished 18 pews, sanding, cleaning, staining, and varnishing the fronts and sides of the pews, believed to be 80 years old, originally donated to the Sisters by St. Mark’s church in St. Paul.
More pews in a side room are left for DeGonda, who probably will make them shine as well.
“I enjoy being in the midst of a place that serves the Lord,” he said. “And I enjoy the relationship with the Sisters.”
He is retired from his own business of an engineering land surveying firm, and is active in Nativity of Mary Church in Bloomington.
This involvement of the Knights continues their work at the convent where some had volunteered to help the Poor Claire Sisters for the past 30 years.
Sister Emy Ychikawa, their local superior, said their Sisters have been serving parishes since 2012. Since coming to Bloomington, they have ministered youth and families, assisting parish work at St. Mark in St. Paul, Our Lady of Grace in Edina and St. John the Baptist in Savage. They also serve at the School Chaplaincy of Chesterton Academy in Hopkins and ministering families through their Catholic Advance Movement.
They hope the new convent will be a special place for more women to love and serve the Lord; they already have been blessed with five new vocations from the area.
“We want this to be a place for religious sisters to give their lives to the Lord for many years to come. That’s our hope for this remodeling,” said Sister Emy.
The history of the St. Claire’s Monastery dates back to 1953 when six Sisters of the Monastery of Sauk Rapids came to Minneapolis, and caught the attention of Pastor Alfred Longley of St. Richards parish in Richfield. He asked his members to donate land, a call answered by Mrs. Marie St. Martin who offered five acres of her farm land with no houses around it in Bloomington. In May, 1954, the Monastery was completed.
Today, Sister Emy said, “We have been experiencing the call from God to bring religious life back to this country, as it was in 1954.”
Sister wants everyone to know they are very thankful for all the help and funds they have received since arriving at the Convent. They are confident they will reach their goal of restoring the convent enabling their Sisters to serve more parishes and families of this community.