STL250: 1936 Happy Anniversary from FDR

STL 250

From Our Archives

This account is from  A Sketch of The Life of Mother Mary Agnes Rossiter by Sister Mary Lucida Savage, 1947

A Centennial Pageant of impressive scope was presented in the St. Louis theatre [now Powell Hall] on the afternoon and evening of April 19 [1936] and the evening of April 20. At Mother Agnes' [Rossiter] request, it was written and its production supervised by Sister Mary Pius Neenan, head of the department of philosophy at Fontbonne College. Professionals directed the performances, trained the dancing groups, and conducted the orchestra.

The cast of a thousand persons was chosen from college, high school, and parochial school students and former students of the Sisters. The pageant traced the history of the Congregation from its founding in France in 1650, and dancing groups symbolized the atmosphere of the various episodes. The Dance of the Elements was especially stirring, depicting the perils of the voyage of the nuns to America with wind, water and lightning interpreted by graceful dancers and colorful costumes, sea green and silver for the billowing waves.

For the benefit of those of the Congregation who could not be present, Mother Agnes had one entire edition of The Carondelet Annual given over to the publication of the manuscript so that all might at least have the pleasure of reading it.

At the performances of the pageant, there was read, at the request of His Excellency, Archbishop Glennon, a letter of congratulation to Mother Agnes from the President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Received by the vast audience with enthusiastic applause, the letter follows:

Dear Reverend Mother:
It has come to my attention that the Sisters of St. Joseph
on April nineteenth and twentieth, will celebrate the
one hundredth anniversary of the arrival of the
members of the Order in St. Louis.

The story of the growth of the order in the United States
since those far-away days of 1836 reads like the parable
of the sower whose seed fell upon good ground.

I am informed that the Order of the Sisters of Saint Joseph,
which made such a modest beginning one hundred years ago when
six heroic women landed in Saint Louis, now numbers thirty-one
hundred sisters who, besides engaging in educational work, operate
hospitals, orphan homes, and deaf-mute institutions--truly a remarkable
increase in good works.

Upon the happy occasion of this centennial I offer to you and through
you all of the members of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, my hearty felicitations.
this anniversary must give to each and every one of your members added
conviction to the words of the Master: "Mary hath chosen the best part, which
shall not be taken away from her."

Very sincerely yours,
Franklin D. Roosevelt

posted June 6, 2014

As St. Louis turns 250 this year (learn more at STL250), the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet join the celebration by sharing bits of our own 175+ years of history in St. Louis, the city of our founding. Look for new posts on Fridays throughout 2014.


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