RNDMs celebrate 150th anniversary
By Frank Flegel
REGINA — It was a grand celebration and party as Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions (RNDM), former students and friends gathered for the August 17 - 19 weekend to celebrate 150 years since Euphrasie Barbier founded their congregation in Lyon, France. She died in January 1893 but her spirit was very much alive this weekend.
Friday evening August 17 an estimated 400 attended a banquet in the Conexus Art Centre; Saturday afternoon in Christ the King Parish Hall about 200 were entertained with an afternoon of various performances by friends and former students of the sisters; the celebrations ended Sunday, August 19 with a mass at historic Sacred Heart Church, Lebret, Sask. (see related story).
The Friday evening banquet was treated to a visit by RNDM founder Sister Euphrasie Barbier (aka Sister Betty Iris Bartush) with her guardian angel (aka Sister Jo Gelowitz) who recounted her struggles in getting the congregation established. With humour she responded to questions from interviewer Sister Claire Himbeault about how she dealt with troublesome priests and others who tried to dissuade her from forming the RNDMs. The evening emcee and chair of the 150th anniversary celebration was Sister Anna Aulie.
It was party time Saturday afternoon for more than 200 who jammed Christ the King Parish Hall for performances by former students and friends of the Sisters. Richard (Dick) Dittrick who produced the afternoon entertainment and Pat Stawrz together performed on guitar and banjo and emceed the afternoon. The Sisters had no idea what was in store for them.
It started with Stawrz’s three young sons performing violin works, included a set by the Varga Sisters (Nancy Duczek and Anita Hammond) accompanied by their mother Joan on the keyboard; Kelley Ehman, Barb Yurotski and Rebecca Giesbrect of Christ the King Players sang several songs; a costume attired duo from Fort Frances, Ont., Jackie and Gerry Guimond; and several performances by Dittrick and Stawrz, one of which included Rev. John Weckend.
But the hit of the afternoon was five of the former Melody Lads who earned a standing ovation. The Melody Lads was originally put together by Sister Marion McGuigan and existed from 1959-1972. The group became well known locally and several times performed internationally. Tracy Gusway and Dean Gutheil played guitar with Brent Gutheil, Don Meikle and Rob Currie joining in the vocals.
Sister Mary Martin said she was thrilled with the whole afternoon, particularly seeing former students. “It was a thrill to see them now and what they are doing. We are so proud of our Marian and Sacred Heart Academy graduates. They received a quality education.”
Chris Hamilton played keyboard for most of the performances and provided music during an intermission.