Renovations to help Sisters better serve community


FERDINAND — For the first time anyone can remember, the Sisters of St. Benedict of Ferdinand closed their Christmas masses to the public.

The decision came in the face of renovations at the Monastery Immaculate Conception that left the public restrooms and surrounding hallways unsafe for visitors. These renovations are part of a multi-phase plan for the monastery building that began around Thanksgiving and will wrap up in the summer 2019.

“The monastery was built in the 1800s, and it’s overdue for updates,” said Dawn Schaefer, director of marketing and communications for the sisters.

The renovations will replace duct work for heating and cooling, and add new insulation to make the historic building more energy-efficient. Old paneling, ceilings and floor tiles will also be replaced, though the original wood floors will be kept where possible. Plumbing will also be updated.

Several donors gave the sisters the funds to complete the work.

Currently, the work is concentrated in the south tower where many of the offices are located. Much of the floor in the area is pulled up, and the main public restrooms are located in the middle of all the work. Since the public restrooms are inaccessible at this time, the sisters chose to close their masses to the public, though the Christmas Day Mass was live-streamed on the monastery’s website.

“Just for safety, [the sisters] didn’t want the public around the area,” Schaefer said.

Schaefer said canceling the masses was a big decision, especially since many people come from out of town to celebrate the holidays with the sisters, but the community is looking forward to holding a Christmas in July event in the newly-renovated facilities.

The renovations are the latest in a series of projects at the monastery. Earlier this year, the sisters opened the Benedictine Hospitality Center in the monastery, which will house many of the programs and offices that were located in the Kordes Center next to the monastery. Schaefer said the sisters are working on a few possible plans for the Kordes Center, but nothing is set in stone.

The renovations and the Benedictine Hospitality Center are all part of the sisters’ efforts to best serve Ferdinand and the surrounding communities through their ministries.

“The [sisters are] always looking for the best ways to serve the community,” Schaefer said, “and for the best ways to use the space to serve their ministries.”

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