|The local Terre Haute newspaper on Sept. 25, 1958, announces|
the groundbreaking of the new novitiate building.
Mother Gertrude Clare Owens, general superior from 1954 to 1960, was dedicated to the formation of young women in religious life, and it was under her administration that Providence Novitiate, the former name of Owens Hall, was built. Sacrifices had to be made by all the sisters in order to build this more than $2 million facility. In his sermon during the blessing and dedication of the hall on April 19, 1960, in front of sisters and guests, the Very Rev. Joseph Brokhage, STD, said, “Your Mother [Mother Gertrude Clare] saw a further need, the need of a new Novitiate. Again she appealed to you, her daughters, to save here and skimp there to bear the heavy cost. Again, as loyal daughters, you all said: ‘Mother, we are behind you.’”
In addition to the sacrifices made by the Congregation, generous friends, schools and parishes donated funds for the building project. However, no official capital campaign was undertaken to build the new novitiate building.
Sacrifices were also made for the purchase and installation of a new organ in the hall’s St. Joseph Chapel located on the first floor. According to documents in Archives, sisters who were music teachers “gave extra lessons and taught on free days, during vacation time, etc., and realized over $7,000 in a period of three years. The talent of the music teachers in our own Community was utilized for the summer school in 1960 instead of bringing in outside educators and the money thus saved was added to the amount.”
The pipe organ in St. Joseph Chapel was blessed on Dec. 18, 1960, by the Rev. William Stineman.
During the April 19 blessing and dedication, the Rev. Brokhage touched upon a sad note about the completion of the novitiate. Mother Gertrude Clare was in poor health and did not realize that her dream of a new building had been achieved. The Rev. Brokhage said, “By design of God, your Mother has not been permitted to share your joy in this great day. Were she conscious, she would rejoice for two reasons: first, that she could make the additional sacrifice of not being in the limelight on this great day; secondly, she would rejoice that her beloved novices will now have suitable quarters in this beautiful new building.”
In 1968, Mother Mary Pius Regnier, general superior from 1966 to 1976, and her General Council renamed Providence Novitiate Owens Hall, in honor of Mother Gertrude Clare, who died in 1963. In the resolution for the new name, it was written, “Whereas, No other name could be more fittingly given to the building erected with so much confidence and trust in God than that of Mother Gertrude Clare.”
Now when I walk into Owens Hall I have a greater appreciation for all the women, especially Mother Gertrude Clare, who made it a reality.
|This image of Owens Hall graces the cover of a 1960s brochure printed by the Congregation.|