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St. Joseph's Convent Cemetery

St. Joseph Motherhouse Cemetery Walk Stevens Point, WI

June 6, 2012

On this beautiful June evening, approximately 25 tapophiles (tapophilia is a fascination for and an enjoyment of cemeteries and the like), met with Sister Mary Ann Stoltz and Sister Carlene Blavat to tour the cemetery at the St. Joseph Motherhouse on Maria Drive [formerly known as Academy Avenue] in Stevens Point. The Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis were first known as the Polish Sisters of St. Joseph and the name did undergo many changes over the years. The order was first established in July, 1901. Rev. Luke Pescinski, pastor of St. Peter's Parish in Stevens Point, was instrumental in forming this new religious community in order to educate the children of Polish immigrants who were settling in the midwest. After conferring with five Sisters at St. Peters and others, a farm was purchased on Academy Avenue. In less than a year, the cornerstone for the new Motherhouse was blessed. The cemetery with the mausoleum reserved for the family of Rev. Luke Pescinski was established in January, 1902. Among those buried there are the Rev. Luke Pescinski, his parents Stanislas and Rozalia Pescinski, his sisters Veronica and Maryanna and several other relatives.

In 1923, a grotto was built by Frank Spalenka, of Tufa rock which was shipped from Cleveland, Ohio.

It is surrounded by lovely ferns and flowers, and there are three arches, the center arch has an altar below the statue of the Our Lady of Lourdes. It is a beautiful gathering place for prayer and meditation.

Buried in the eastern section of the cemetery, are the Sisters who served as leaders of the congregation, beginning with Mother Mary Felicia and Mother Mary Clara who were elected First Superior General and Assistant, respectively. The Reverend Mothers [or Mother Superiors] are all buried below a large crucifix with St. John and the Blessed Mother. The graves for the Sisters are aligned in rows according to year of death, therefore, if searching for a particular grave and if one knows the date of death, it is not difficult to locate the grave. The oldest grave in the cemetery is believed to be that of Sister Matilda, who died on October 23, 1906. There are approximately 350-400 graves in the cemetery.

In 2001, the 100 th Jubilee of the Sisters, a large memorial was dedicated to the memory of the Sisters and Associates from their congregation who are buried elsewhere. There are currently congregations in Cleveland, Ohio and Bartlett, Illinois.

We were also very privileged to enjoy a tour of the chapel and some of the rooms in the Motherhouse.

The chapel was dedicated on May 1, 1965 and the Sisters are very proud of it and their involvement in planning it.

The stained glass windows were designed by Sister Mary Laureen Omernick and they depict St. Francis' Canticle of the Sun and the Joys and Sorrows of Mary and Joseph. The hallways and rooms are "home" to many of Sister Mary Luciana Kolasinski's magnificent large paintings, both religious and secular.

SPAGS members thank Sister May Ann and Sister Carlene for the very informative tour they conducted. We also would like to thank Fran Wnuk Nelson for arranging our visit and Laura Rowe, PR person for the convent.

Linda Kappell

Secretary, SPAGS