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Laying of the Cornerstone – Stevens Point, Wisconsin, May 1902

Laying of the cornerstone, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, May 1902

For a number of reasons, the time called for a gala religious and civic celebration in Stevens Point, WI.  May 20, 1902, Pentecost Tuesday, according to tradition was observed as a first-class holyday and holiday by many Polish immigrants, particularly in rural areas. The new convent and academy, where the cornerstone was to be laid that day, symbolized achievement and hope for the Polish American parish communities. Non-Polish civic leaders welcomed the new institution that would enhance the city. The clergy who initiated the movement for the sisterhood rejoiced in the news of its canonical approval. And for the Sisters of St. Joseph, a long vigil was over. People came in great numbers to celebrate: Holy Mass in the church of St. Peter Parish, organ music, singing, a procession or parade to the building site six blocks away—holiday dress, banners, speeches, pictures taken, a sunny spring day to be remembered!

The celebration, however, was incomplete:  only ten of the pioneer sisters (out of 46 sisters) were there. All would come shortly, in August 1902, to be present to one another as a bonded group for the first time: to see and to be seen together as the new community; to share the vision and the pain and the hope of the past year.   


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