Sister Mary Myles and Sister Cerella Celebrate
50th Jubilee in Hometown
Burke, Allan. "Sister Mary Myles and Sister Cerella Celebrate 50th Jubilee in Hometown." Emmons County Record, 4 July 2002, 8-9.
Sister Mary Myles Schwahn and Sister Cerella Baumgartner
celebrated 50 years as School Sisters of Notre Dame at a special
Liturgy and reception June 26 at Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic
Church in Strasburg.
Father Leonard Eckroth presided, and diocesan priests concelebrated.
Musicians were Victor Schwahn and Kasey Bosch.
Sisters Mary Myles and Sister Cerella renewed their vows during
the Liturgy. Father Leonard gave the history of service to the parish,
first by the Ursuline Sisters and then by the Sisters of Notre Dame.
Sister Rose Schwab was the last of the Sisters of Notre Dame to
serve the parish.
"We are still reaping the benefits of the Sisters being here
for so many years," Father Leonard said. "Members of our
parish are well versed in the practice of their faith."
Father Leonard noted that it is a "sad thing now" that
there is a shortage of nuns, and he said he hoped the 50th Jubilee
would inspire young people to pursue vocations.
Sister Mary Myles and Sister Cerella reminisced about their growing
up years in Strasburg and their opportunities to serve as School
Sisters of Notre Dame.
They thanked their families and friends for their support over
the past 50 years and thanked everyone who made the jubilee possible.
Ecumenical service Sister Mary Myles spoke at the Sunday Ecumenical
Service under the tent.
Here are some excerpts from her remarks:
"In preparation for this talk, I sat down, opened the door
of my heart and read about the history of Strasburg and wrote down
my thoughts that came to me from the past."
"The Centennial is certainly a time to reflect back on the
history of Strasburg and all the People and Religious who have helped
shape the history of Strasburg to make it the town that it is today.
One hundred years of dedicated service are indeed a great tribute
to this community."
"What a great and precious challenge this was and has been
for our ancestors and Religious who have gone before us. We have
real reason to be proud of our town and the people who risked so
much amid the challenges that people encountered to make it the
best town in North Dakota."
"In reading the history of Strasburg, the people's strong
faith in Christ, the love of neighbor and helping each other during
those depression years was one of deep committed service."
"On January 15, 1907, Fr. Alois Strigl, OSB, came as the new
pastor and Sts. Peter and Paul's Parish grew rapidly. With
the continuing rapid growth of the community, Fr. Alois began to
earnestly consider building a bigger and better church."
"In the middle of October of the same year, Fr. Max Spechmeier,
OSB, replaced Fr. Strigl who was recalled to Richardton because
of ill health. Fr. Max began to have Mass in the fully completed
basement of the church and also gave regular catechetical instructions.
This marked the beginning of the St. Benedict Parochial School."
"The first Mass in the new church was celebrated on Christmas
Eve 1910. The cost to complete the magnificent edifice in 1910 was
$45,000. At that time that was considered a major step in faith."
"With the completion of the church were plans for a Catholic
school in the full basement of the church. A solemn High Mass in
honor of the Holy Spirit formally opened the school."
"It was the wish of Bishop Wehrle to have the Ursuline Sisters
come over from Germany and teach in Strasburg. The Ursuline Sisters
arrived in Strasburg, September 21, 1910, and the old church was
remodeled for their convent."
"The Ursuline Sisters were very dedicated and loved the people
in Strasburg and the people loved them. Eventually the convent was
remodeled for the students who boarded. This helped immensely, accommodating
the parents and the sacrifices they were making to have their children
attend the parochial school in Strasburg."
"By 1917 the enrollment had increased so that the church basement
was not large enough anymore and also the children were unable to
continue their education beyond grade school."
"In 1920 St. Benedict school was built. There were 300 grade
school students. Then in 1923 the High School was built and there
were enough students to operate the high school."
"I was taught by the Ursuline Sisters up to the fifth grade.
One of my favorite teachers was Sister Magdalene Schammel whom I
admired very much. I wrote to her many times and she was a great
inspiration in my life."
"While the Sisters were in Strasburg they were happy to have
some of their students enter the Order: Sister Mary Rita Wagner,
Sister Agnes Ternes, Sister Constance Eberle, Barbara Eberle, Elizabeth
Eberle, Adeline Eberle and Bridget Holzer. From 1910 to 1943 the
Ursuline Sisters prayed, worked and carried on the task for which
they had come... teaching the children and youth for 33 years."
"In 1942 a change occurred at the Strasburg Convent. The School
Sisters of Notre Dame whose Motherhouse is in Mankato, Minn., replaced
the Ursuline Sisters. St. Benedict School became noted for students
who were well educated and went on to great achievements in their
"One of the trials the School Sisters of Notre Dame encountered
was the Anti-Garb Bill. The school was a parochial school until
1931 when the school building was rented out to the school district
for its financial administration because the parish was unable to
bear the financial burden. It was therefore known as a Special Public
School. When the Anti-Garb Bill passed in 1948 the school operated
as a public school. In order for the Sisters to continue teaching
in a public school they could not wear their religious habit but
had to go into secular dress. As Sister Richard Anthony stated in
one of the parish books, "You could never imagine with what
fears and trepidation we approached the opening of the new school
year. The first time that we made our appearance in secular clothes,
it was almost a traumatic experience. Now should that have taken
place today, it would be 'no sweat' as they say, because Sisters
are accustomed to donning these clothes worn as a religious habit."
"As a senior in high school, I vividly remember the day the
Sisters arrived in the classrooms with the secular dress and the
curiosity we all had."
"Not very long after the School Sisters of Notre Dame arrived
a number of young women entered the community from Strasburg. Some
responded to the desire of becoming a School Sisters of Notre Dame
but later decided that was not their life-long commitment. The Sisters
who are School Sisters of Notre Dame today from Strasburg and towns
in the area are: Sister Cerella Baumgartner, Katherine Mattern,
Rose Schwab, Mary Rose Brown, Mary George Kuhn, Dora Kuhn, Alene
Kuhn, Daniella Kuhn, Mary Daniel Leintz. Sister Francene Baumgartner,
Sister Irma Lientz and Mary Costa Leintz are deceased. Sister Rose
Schwab was the last School Sister of Notre Dame as parish minister
"The vocations to the priesthood are: Father Jonathon Fischer,
OSB, and Father Pete Kramer, Father Kenneth Wald, Father Tom Welk,
Father Lee Ebach, Father Jerome Schwegman. Arvin Wester, my classmate
from the class of 1949, is a retired minister who ministered in
the Reformed Church in America for 46 years. Deceased priests are
Alban Engel, Landolin Engel, Wilfred Fischer and Francise Lauinger.
"The following Sisters entered the Benedictine Sisters: Frances
Kraft, Judith Fischer, Ursula Mitzel, Consulata Biegler, Fortunata
Bichler, Narcissa Brickner, Appolonia Kuss, Radequnda Engel, Margaret
Mary Engel, Barbara Weber, Assumpta Wagner, Elizabeth Ternes and
"We were prepared for the Ecumenical Movement that came about
with Pope John XXIII because of the dialogue we had experienced
during our school years between the Catholic and Dutch Reform students.
The minister from the Dutch Reformed Church came to school and took
the students for religion and the priests taught religion to the
Catholic students. We joined together with love and friendship that
grew in our school, a spirit of unity so that when one person
rejoiced, all rejoiced, and when one was grieving, everyone grieved
Father Leonard Eckroth poses with Sister
Cerella, left, and Sister Mary Myles.
Sister Mary Myles, left, and Sister
Cerella are pictured with the beautiful cake at their reception.
Sister Mary Myles is pictured with
her brothers and sisters. Left to right are Imogene Schwab of
Strasburg, Sister Mary Myles, Rose Powell of Hernando, Miss.,
Al Schwahn of Tampa, Fla., Larry Schwahn of Buffalo, Minn.,
and Kathy Reimer.
Sister Cerella poses with her family;
left to right, Harvey Baumgartner of Milwaukee, Wis., Nyla Schwab
of Milwaukee, Wis., John Baumgartner, Helen Kraft, Sister Cerella
from Mother House, Mankato, Minn., Virginia Draeger of Milwaukee,
Wis., and Elmer Baumgartner of Florida.
Concelebrants with Father Leonard Eckroth
are, left to right, Father Jerry Kautzman of Dickinson, Father
Don Glover (Missionary from Taiwan), Father Leonard and Father
Bruce Krebs of St. Anthony¹s in Linton.
Relatives and friends of Sister Mary
Myles and Sister Cerella filled Sts. Peter & Paul Church
for the Liturgy.
Joe Schwab, Jr. of Fargo, a nephew
of Sister Mary Myles, reads the Intercessions.
Margaret Senger, right, is Sister Cerella¹s
Pictured after the Jubilee are, left
to right, Sister Mary Myles, Father Vince Schwahn of Mexico
City, Mexico, and Father Leonard Eckroth.
The church was specially decorated
for the Jubilee.
Reprinted with permission of the Emmons County Record.