Sisters Return for Celebration

Gasper-O'Brien, Diane. "Sisters Return for Celebration." Hays Daily News, 29 July 2001.

A Volga-German Homecoming: 125th Jubilee Celebration

VICTORIA ­ Sisters Mary Elise Leiker, Lucy Ann Wasinger and Mary Ann Schippers all grew up in Ellis County.

But they never really knew each other until they all entered the order of the Sisters of St. Agnes in Fond du Lac, Wis.

Little did they know that years later, they would all end up doing mission work together halfway around the world in Siberia.

Last week, they all returned together, just in time to help take part in the 125th anniversary of the Volga-Germans settling communities in Ellis and Rush Counties.

"It´s great to be home," Schippers said Friday.

Schippers looked every bit the grateful part as she sat under a tree just outside St. Fidelis Catholic Church in the town where she spent her childhood.

The three nuns, who have a combined 159 years of religious service among them, were guests at the last of six celebrations honoring the 125th anniversary of Volga-Germans settling in the area.

"I think it´s wonderful how beautifully they celebrated the Volga-German heritage," Schippers said.

The three nuns had been in Siberia doing mission work since 1994 and had returned home only a few times since then.

The Ellis County natives had helped build the parish in Chelyabisnk to nearly 300 members. Money used from memorial contributions from people in Ellis County helped to build the church, Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, which seats 500 people.

As the trio talked of the harsh winters of Siberia and their mission work, the strain of the long trip home was evident.

Now, the nuns said, they will try to make adjustments to being back home before deciding on their future.

"We'll go to Fond du Lac and make a retreat," Wasinger said. "Then we will discern where God needs us."

Reprinted with permission of The Hays Daily News.

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