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Home Sweet Home: Sisters return to main house

Home Sweet Home: Sisters return to main house - (06-03-2012)

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Photo: The brick wall in the new correspondence department, part of the original exterior wall of the main house, is one example of incorporating existing features into the new construction. Sister Dawn Annette Mills (foreground) with Sister Maria Victoria Cutaia.

After more than a year of displacement, living from boxes, sleeping in guest quarters and beds placed in office corners and saying a temporary “goodbye” to their Adoration Chapel, the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration at the Clyde, Mo., monastery have moved back into their main house as the Sacred Stones, Sacred Stories renovation project entered its final stages.

“It was a welcome feeling to be back in our space sharing the duties of the daily monastic calling – prayer, work and praise,” Sister Sophia Becker, OSB said.

Shortly before Thanksgiving, the Sisters received the go-ahead to return home, a process that, due to their excitement to settle in, seemed to move much more quickly than when they had to move out over a year ago.

“Moving the Sisters’ personal effects and office-related items from the main house into various guest quarters and other spaces around the monastery was such a laborious project and almost like putting together a huge puzzle to make sure it was done efficiently. It was extremely well organized by (Prioress) Sister Sean Douglas and her staff,” Director of Communications Kelley Baldwin said. “While the Sisters made the best of the situation, continuing to immerse themselves in community and prayer life no matter their surroundings, they were excited to be back in their main house. The thought of gathering for prayer in their Adoration Chapel made the move back lighter and more joyful.” 

The entire process of the Sacred Stones, Sacred Stories renovation took years, beginning with the discernment the Sisters underwent to decide how to proceed with a project of this magnitude. 

“Overall, the project was probably one of the largest ever in this whole area, mostly due to the complexity with it being a major renovation rather than all new construction,” Sister Sean said.

The project included the deconstruction of portion of the main building to decrease the amount of unused space, creation of a new one-level and handicapped-accessible entry for guests, new bedroom and bath areas and added infrastructure for new technology to aid educational opportunities, increasing safety with a new elevator  and generator and installing a geothermal energy project.

“That is one of my favorite features because we no longer have to rely on propane to heat the building,” Sister Sean said with excitement. “Switching to a renewable energy source is a great joy for us.”

She added that the Sisters’ green efforts also extended to recycling or reusing so many different items, including original light fixtures, doors and door frames, cabinets, shelving and  windows. Contractors even incorporated many of the original building’s features in the new construction. For example, the brick wall located within the new correspondence department used to be an exterior wall, offering a visual reminder of the blending of old with new.

“That was one of the Sisters’ goals,” Baldwin said, “to complete the renovations in a way that complimented and enhanced the motherhouse while maintaining the spirit and integrity of the building. They were very successful.”

The new entry, which offers a two-story high clerestory and provides a parking area for cars and buses, includes the portress area, a small receiving room, a gift shop and one-level access straight into the Adoration Chapel. Windows added to the southern side of the building increase the amount of sunlight that filters into formerly dark hallways and office areas.

“The new windows and accessible entry remind us daily that our hearts and our homes are always open to Christ and visitors,” Sister Sean said. “We could not have accomplished this project without the many, many people who have helped us along this amazing journey, and we will always be grateful for the generous offering of their time, talents and gifts.”

FYI - The Adoration Chapel is open once again for visitors to join the Sisters for prayer. For times of prayer services, please call (660) 944-2221.

To view photos and more stories about the Sacred Stones project, please click here.

To make a donation toward the project, please click here.