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.
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 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.
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.
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!