By Pat Morrison
CINCINNATI — On Nov. 15, more than 275 well-wishers and Precious Blood Sisters filled St. Margaret Mary Church in Cincinnati’s North College Hill neighborhood to offer thanksgiving for God’s blessings and CPPS ministry in the region.
Ties to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati are strong, since CPPS sisters were invited to the then-diocese in 1846, originally to serve the needs of the growing German immigrant population.
The parish is just one of several where Precious Blood Sisters served since their arrival in the Cincinnati area in 1892, where they first began teaching at St. Rose Parish. Their educational ministry in just four schools alone totals 219 years! These include 80 years at St. Mark, 60 at St. Margaret Mary, 30 at St. Rose, and 49 at Regina High School, which the sisters founded and staffed. They also served at St. John, Deer Park and Sts. Peter and Paul.
In addition, over the decades, Precious Blood Sisters were on the staff of St. Gregory and St. Mary seminaries, the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains, the archdiocesan chancery and the archbishop’s residence.
Today, 10 CPPS sisters continue to work in the city of Cincinnati in a variety of ministries, including archdiocesan service and outreach to the sick, poor and marginalized. And of course the congregation’s motherhouse in Dayton and numerous CPPS communities located in archdiocese. In addition to the sisters in retirement at Salem Heights and Emma Hall in Dayton, close to 50 sisters live and work within the archdiocese.
The celebration in Cincinnati was a fitting one, then, both for sisters and their former students and colleagues and friends.
Fathers James Schutte and Jerry Gardner, St. Margaret Mary’s pastor, concelebrated the liturgy, which, appropriate to the celebration, was the votive Mass of the Precious Blood. Fr. Schutte challenged the sisters to keep “shouting” the message of God’s love and care; they “shout” by their presence, their ministry, their prayer, he told the assembly. After the Creed, all CPPS sisters present renewed their vows.
During the liturgy, sisters proclaimed the Scriptures, led song responses, brought up the gifts of bread and wine, distributed Holy Communion, and served as greeters.
Following the liturgy, the celebration continued in the parish’s Madonna Hall. There Sister Florence Seifert, CPPS president, presented a legacy donation of $17,500 on behalf of the congregation to Sister Barbara Hagedorn, president of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. The donation is for the new Cristo Rey School which the Sisters of Charity are sponsoring, scheduled to open in 2011. The new school’s president, Joliet Franciscan Sister Jeanne Bessette, was also on hand to receive the donation.
In her remarks, Sister Florence noted the special connections between the two congregations and this pioneering educational ministry which will serve “a specific educational need in the area.” Both CPPS and the Sisters of Charity are marking special anniversaries of their founding, 175 for CPPS and 200 for the Charity congregation. And both the Sisters of the Precious Blood and the Sisters of Charity were pioneers themselves when they came to the young state of Ohio in the early to mid-1800s. Both groups also have an historic connection with the area, especially in the field of education.
In presenting the donation, Sister Florence noted that while the congregation has worked in many apostolic endeavors in the archdiocese, educational ministry has been a hallmark of CPPS’ 117 years of service in Cincinnati. Just as the Precious Blood Sisters responded to new challenges and invitations in this century-plus in the region, they are happy to assist in this pioneering new venture.
CPPS, she said, is “grateful to the Sisters of Charity for launching the Cristo Rey School in Cincinnati in response to a specific educational need in the area. We see this as a continuation of the legacy of the Sisters of the Precious Blood in education and other ministries in the Cincinnati area.”
The Cristo Rey Schools’ strength is their mix of college-prep Catholic high school and “temporary employment agency,” thanks to a unique partnership with the local business community. The schools, currently a network of 24 across the country, focus on minority and low-income students, who spend four days a week in class and one day working at entry-level jobs off campus. The job enables the student to cover most of the cost of his or her tuition, and at the same time provides a solid preparation for the business world.
The $17,500 legacy donation from CPPS comes just as the new school is making major efforts to secure and increase its funding. The Cincinnati Cristo Rey school is scheduled to open in 2011 with about 100 freshmen, eventually expanding to 500.
“We see this as a continuation of the legacy of the Sisters of the Precious Blood in education and other ministries in the Cincinnati area,” she said, noting that CPPS looks forward to continued collaboration with the Sisters of Charity.
Hundreds of friends joined the sisters in the parish hall for the reception, where they renewed old friendships, connected with former teachers and students, and relaxed as they enjoyed the catered refreshments.