LINCOLN (SNR) - The Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Mercy have had an active community in the Diocese of Lincoln for more than 30 years.
Now, with the support of Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz, the diocese, many benefactors and two upcoming fundraising dinners, they will soon have a permanent residence near Lincoln.
Currently residing – and running a daycare – in the old Clark-Jeary building east of Pius X High School in Lincoln, the sisters are preparing as a new convent is being built on land adjacent to Saint Michael Parish in Lincoln (Cheney).
"This building looks good, but the pipes and heating are old," noted Sister Theresa Nguyen, CMRM.
Furthermore, the Clark-Jeary property belongs to Pius X High School, and the space is needed to accommodate their own expansion.
A new facility will enable sisters to run a good formation program and accommodate additional sisters who are called to this congregation.
The Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Mercy, was founded in Vietnam. During the Vietnamese Civil War in the 1970s, some sisters escaped to Australia.
Later, the sisters moved to Springfield, Mo., and a number of them journeyed on to Lincoln, where there is a thriving Vietnamese community. This community of sisters grew to the point where they were able to become an independent congregation for the Diocese of Lincoln, established by Bishop Bruskewitz on May 4, 1999.
Today, there are 16 sisters who serve in a variety of ways. They work at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital, care for the bishop’s residence, teach catechism at two area elementary schools and provide assistance at Immaculate Heart of Mary, the local Vietnamese parish.
One of their biggest roles in Lincoln is the Little Flowers Daycare that they run. Here, the sisters provide a loving, safe environment where children can thrive in an authentically Catholic setting.
"The sisters – along with the parents – are helping to form the children who are our future…who will be taking leadership roles in the Church and community," said Sandy Danek of the Cathedral of the Risen Christ Parish in Lincoln, whose grandchildren were taught by the sisters at Cathedral school.
Because the sisters have had such an impact on the community, it’s fitting to give them a more permanent home than what they have had at Clark Jeary or in any of their previous residences.
The new convent, designed by architect Kevin Clark, will have a beautiful chapel, daycare facilities for 100 children, a kitchen, private cells for the sisters and more. The sisters have been collecting statues and other elements, but they still have a wish list that includes everything from stained glass windows to pews and candlesticks.
Ground was broken for the new building Aug. 21. Currently, the plan is to begin construction in the next few weeks and complete it in time for the sisters to move in next summer.
In the meantime, two fundraising dinners have been planned to help offset the $2.3 million cost of the project.
On Nov. 27, members of Lincoln’s Vietnamese community are gathering for a festive evening of food and entertainment. Tickets sold out rapidly for this event.
However, a second event was already in the works for other benefactors – and fans of the sisters’ work – in the Lincoln area.
"Experience a Night of Culture with the Vietnamese Sisters" will be held Sunday, Jan. 28.
"We’ll have authentic Vietnamese food and entertainment," promised Mrs. Danek, who is one of a group of volunteers who are helping to plan and host the event.
The buffet-style dinner will be catered by area restaurants, with some items prepared by the sisters themselves. Musical entertainment will be provided by local singers and dancers.
Proceeds from the ticket price will be used to help build the convent. But attendees will also have the opportunity to help purchase new equipment for the expanded daycare.
The sisters are working with state regulators to determine the types of cribs, high chairs and other equipment that they will need. Anyone attending the banquet will be able to purchase one or more items to help outfit the new facility.
Sister Rosaria Hoang, CMRM, major superior, sighed with happiness as she contemplated having a permanent home for her congregation after borrowing places in Denton, Seward, and now Lincoln.
"It will be good to have our own home," she smiled.
All are welcome to the dinner. Tickets are $50 per person, with a discount available for those who wish to purchase an entire table. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.queenmercysisters.org or contact Sister Rosaria at P.O. Box 30917, Lincoln, NE 68503-0917.