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‘The challenge of the Eucharist’

children-of-maryThe former seminary complex once loomed, majestic and abandoned, on its Norwood hillside as a monument to a plunge in religious vocations.

This afternoon, the former campus now known as Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center welcomed its latest transfusion of lifeblood.

mother-mary-magdaleneThe Children of Mary, a community of a dozen religious sisters formerly based about 40 miles east of Columbus, celebrated relocation of their motherhouse to the Norwood site, chosen because it offers them space to expand.

“I’m very optimistic about vocations,” said Mother Margaret Mary, the community’s founder (pictured at left in the side photo, with Sister Agnes Immaculae at today’s reception). “We have two more coming.”

The Children of Mary describe their charism as “to satiate the Thirst of Jesus to be loved in the Most Blessed Sacrament.”

“I call us ‘nunsters,’ not nuns,” Mother Margaret Mary said. “We’re semi-contemplative.”

Today’s event began with a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr, appropriately marking the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In his homily, Archbishop Schnurr urged the faithful “to accept the challenge of the Eucharist.” To the Children of Mary, he said “I assure you of our continuing prayers and ask for your prayers.”

He and Columbus Bishop Frederick Campbell had worked with the community on the move from its former motherhouse in Newark, Ohio, where zoning laws prohibited expansion.

children-of-mary-nunThe sisters will maintain the Newark property as a retreat center. Their Norwood lodgings comprise a renovated north wing with a chapel on the first floor and 17 bedrooms on the second. Another 20 third-floor bedrooms await renovations until additional funds can be raised.

The 13-acre former seminary site, governed by a board of laypersons and religious, has served as a Marian center for more than 20 years. Our Lady of the Holy Spirit offers daily Masses, retreats, weekday confessions, a library, and a variety of special devotions. In addition to the Children of Mary, tenants include Sacred Heart Radio, the Catholic Shop, and Our Lady of Light Foundation.

The architectural jewel originally housed Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West, third-oldest Roman Catholic seminary in the United States. Founded in Cincinnati in 1829, the seminary moved to Norwood in 1923 with an enrollment of just over 180.

By 1980, depleted by the declining in vocations, Mount St. Mary’s moved to its current location in Mount Washington with 70 seminarians, a number that plummeted to fewer than 30 by the late 1990s. The Norwood building sat empty for a dozen years before its re-purposing as a Marian center.

In recent years Mount St. Mary’s has seen substantial success in building enrollment.

This academic year opened with 75 seminarians, the largest class in 35 years. Meanwhile a historic initiative to foster vocations in our archdiocese has been launched thanks to the sacrificial gifts from benefactors of One Faith, One Hope, One Love.

May God richly bless those who’ve been called to religious life. Please remember to pray for them and for future vocations.

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