Historical Stories 1970 - Sisters from the Benedictine Order Arrive at Parish School

Fr. Ron’s first Sunday Mass was in the school/church, which was used from 1967 to 1973 until the new Church was built.  Mass was celebrated in the area that is now classrooms for the lower grades.  Fr. Ron said this was a revelation, to have a thousand people singing out in a room with an eight foot ceiling.  It was a pleasing experience.  Fr. Ron remembers some of the parishioners saying, “You should have seen Fr. DeBlas intimidate the Altar Space when he stretched out his arms.”  (Fr. Alonso DeBlas who used to come from Santa Barbara to help on weekends, was 6’ 9” tall and weighed 400 lbs).

Sisters_of_the_Benedictine_OrderDuring this time, the school experienced a major transition.  The Franciscan nuns would be leaving.  They had operated and taught at the School since it had opened in 1967.  Like so many congregations of religious sisters in the years following Vatican II, the Sisters of St. Francis were encountering serious problems staffing Catholic grade schools.  A number of sisters were entering different apostolates, some were leaving religious life, and a good number were growing older and facing retirement.  In 1969, the sisters gave notice that they would no longer be able to provide staffing for the grade school at Sts. Simon & Jude. 

Fortunately in 1970, sisters from the Benedictine Order arrived to replace the Franciscan Nuns.  Sr. Loretta Veike, OSB, became the first Benedictine Principal, followed by Sr. Jolinda Naas, OSB, Principal 1971-1972, Sr. Marylyn Becker, OSB, 1972-1974 (no longer with the congregation), Sr. Mary Ann Schepers, OSB, 1974-1976, Sr. Carolyn Gries, OSB, 1976-1982 (no longer with the congregation) and Sr. Virlee Egler, OSB, Principal 1982-1997 (deceased).  Sr. Assuntnta and Sr. Beverly served as Stephen Ministers in the parish.

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