Full Staniukynas statue

‘Welcome back, Welcome home’

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Sisters of St. Casimir lead ceremony at Motherhouse  

By Kathy Headley

It seems like the sun always shines on the day the Sisters of St. Casimir hold an event that is–at least in part—outdoors. Last Saturday morning was no exception.

After a hiatus due in large part to the pandemic, the Sisters announced a return to a public Mass praying for the beatification of their foundress, Venerable Mother Maria Kaupas. This time it would be accompanied by the rededication of the statue of the Rev. Dr. Anthony Staniukynus, early spiritual director of the congregation.

The crowd, numbering about 150, entered the familiar chapel at 2601 W. Marquette Road amid greetings of “Welcome Back, Welcome Home.”

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The faithful honor the works of Venerable Mother Maria Kaupas and the Rev. Dr. Anthony Staniukynus as they attend a rededication of the staue of the early spiritual director of the congregation. –Photos by Karen Strabel

As folks settled into their pews, Sister Margaret Petcavage opened the day by giving a glimpse into the life of their foundress.

Saying their congregation began in 1907 in Scranton, Penn., Sister continued, “After three short years, Mother Maria–with the help and direction of Father Anthony Staniukynas–established a community here, building a motherhouse, starting a grade school in the motherhouse which grew to include a high school, which grew into Maria High School.”

As time went on, Mother Maria sent members of her order to work in dozens of parishes, schools and hospitals across the United States. Of course, they staffed both Holy Cross and Loretto Hospitals and many schools in Chciago.

“Mother Maria prayed in this very chapel, always in the fourth pew from the back, the left side. She died here, was buried from this chapel and now rests in this chapel,” Sister Margaret said.

She explained that when a person is presented for possible sainthood, Rome requires their body be exhumed, simply to prove that they existed, which is why her sarcophagus now resides in the chapel.SSC double

Saturday was chosen as the date for this occasion because it fell closest to the 83rd anniversary of Mother Maria’s death on April 17.

Celebrant for the Mass was the Rev. Tom Kasputis. Growing up, Father Tom attended Nativity BVM School, which was staffed by the Sisters, and served Mass in the parish church. He was assisted by Deacon Joe Panek, who was encouraged in his pursuit of the deaconate by the Sisters at his home parish of Immaculate Conception. He continues to assist the Sisters at the chapel.

As Mass concluded, attendees made their way out to the statue of the Rev. Dr. Anthony Staniukynas for the rededication ceremony.

Father Staniukynas dedicated himself to the well-being of young Mother Maria and her dream of a Lithuanian order of nuns. Through his help and guidance, the Sisters of St. Casimir became a reality, and with his encouragement and foresight this aided in the growth and development of the surrounding Marquette Manor neighborhood, as well.

The 100-year-old statue, originally a gift from the school children taught by the Sisters, was cleaned and refurbished last fall. New pavement was laid and two pillars were added on the sides. One pillar so aptly states: “He died, but his works live on.”

As always, the Sisters invited everyone back in for refreshments and the crowd readily took advantage of the opportunity to visit with old friends and meet new ones.

The next event will be the Founders’ Day celebration on Saturday, Aug. 26.

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