U.S. Province Dedicates Renewed Novitiate

Godfrey, IL

Novice master, Fr. Frank Kuczera, OMI welcomes the guests to the renewed novitiate

After two years and millions of dollars, the renovation of the historic Immaculate Heart of Mary Novitiate in Godfrey, Illinois has been completed and the building was blessed and re-dedicated on October 17, 2021. The beautiful autumn afternoon saw Oblates and special guests from around the country gather for the ceremony and tours.

During opening prayer, the Zambian novices performed music from their homeland.

The house and acreage of the novitiate were originally owned by the Levis family, owners of the Illinois Glass Company. The main house was a summer home built in the 1920’s on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River known for the prevailing summer breezes at a time when there was no air conditioning. The Oblates acquired it in the late 1940’s for their novitiate. In the 100 years since it’s construction there were additions to the building, but in recent years the need for modernization and renovation became acute. Through the generosity of Oblate benefactors, the building and it’s adjacent, “lodge” have been beautifully restored and modernized for future generations of Oblate novices.

The main house before restoration

The main house after renovation

The invited guests were welcomed by US Provincial, Fr. Louis Studer, as well as Novice Master, Fr. Frank Kuczera. During the opening prayer service, the Zambian novices performed music from their homeland. Afterwards the group moved around to different parts of the novitiate for blessings of the individual areas.

The novices sang and played.

The first additional blessing took place outside the main building

The next blessing took place in one of the classrooms

The small “lodge” on the property, now used for individual retreats and prayer

Fr. Jim Brobst led the blessing of the lodge

Returning to the chapel, Fr. Studer made a presentation of special medallions to two donors whose extraordinary generosity made the renovation possible: Renee Benson and Ms. Jasmine Azima of Jasmine Engineering.

(L-R) Fr. Jim Brobst, OMI, Artie Pingolt, President of the Missionary Oblate Partnership, Renee Benson, Reverend Monsignor David J. Hoefler, V.G, Jasmine Azima, Fr. Louis Studer, Fr. Art Flores, Fr. Jim Chambers

After the prayer service and blessings, the guests were treated to a buffet of  hors d’oeuvres, more opportunities to wander through the novitiate and lots of great conversations!

Fr. Kuczera chats with (L-R) pre-novice, Marlowe Romero, Novice, Chileshe Mulenga, and Pre-novice, Luis Ramirez.

(L-R) Formation Director, Fr. Juan Gaspar (back to camera) , Pre-novice, Marlowe Romero, Vicar-provincial, Fr. Art Flores, OMI, and novice Pablo Henning.

Enjoying the spectacular view of the Mississippi River at the novitiate are: Bill Magrath, of Oblate Charitable Gifts Dept., Chileshe Mulenga, and fellow novice, Sipho Mukobola, Jr, 

(L-R) Honorary Oblates, Gwen Stauder and Betty Rule, with donor, Diane Frierdich , and Jamie Green of Oblate Charitable Gifts Dept.

Novices Chileshe Mulenga (L) and Sipho Mukobola, Jr. (R) pose with Oblate Father Allen Maes.

(L-R) Oblate Partnership President, Artie Pingolt chats with Renee Benson and Bro. Pat McGee, OMI

(L-R) Novice Pablo Henning (back to camera), US provincial, Fr. Louis Studer, OMI, Tom and JoAnn Foppe