Christmas is a time for family and thanksgiving, but also a time to reflect on the past. It is evident through the chronicles that the Sisters in Baltimore celebrated Christmas in different ways – those in the motherhouse attended midnight Mass while those at St. Anthony’s Orphanage had more traditional Christmas fun with the children.
The following excerpts describe how Sisters in the city of Baltimore celebrated Christmas through the years.
Villa Assumpta (Motherhouse), Dec. 25, 1875: “Midnight High Mass was celebrated by Reverend Father Wuest. At this time, Reverend Father Litz was catechist at the Institute, and Reverend Father Hespelien confessor at the convent.”
Villa Assumpta (Motherhouse), Dec. 24-25, 1900: “Christmas Eve at 11 PM the Sisters went to the beautifully decorated Chapel. Through the kindness and petition of Reverend James O’Neil for five years, we received from Rome permission to have Midnight Mass followed by two low Masses. Reverend James O’Neil considered it an honor to sing a high Mass in 1899-1900; he gave a very inspiring sermon and also said the other two Masses.”
St. Anthony’s Orphanage, Dec. 25, 1925: “We had midnight Mass in our beautifully decorated, large chapel. The other two Masses followed in succession. The chapel was filled with people; the collection amounted to $78.75 which was given to Rev. Father Rector. Kind benefactors of the Asylum sent in provisions etc. for the orphans. Mr. Frank Fursl provided the turkey dinner. From the Hirsh Building each child received a large stocking filled with toys and goodies.”
St. Anthony’s Orphanage, Dec. 27, 1925: “Sunday after Christmas. The National Council of St. Michael’s men gave the orphans a great treat of ice cream, cakes, candy etc. here in the Asylum. They usually got this treat in St. Michael’s Hall; as the Asylum was quarantined on account of a few children having the mumps, the good kind men of St. Michael’s said ‘If the orphans cannot come to our hall, we shall go to them.’ Besides the treats, they also gave them a Punch and Judy show, after which Santa Claus made his appearance and gave to each child a bag of goodies. The orphans spent a very happy joyful holidays in the Asylum.”
St. Joseph’s School, Dec. 22, 1942: “Christmas holidays began. The children received a box of candy and were dismissed for the holidays.”
Villa Maria (Notch Cliff), Dec 25, 1954: “Rising 5:30, Communion to the sick 6:15, High Mass 6:30, Movie in P.M ‘Cinderella’.”
Villa Assumpta (Motherhouse), Dec 25, 1964: “Christmas Day was beautiful in every way. Midnight Mass was sung by the entire community and was followed by two Masses in the morning. The Sisters from the Chancery visited the novices after breakfast and the novices begged to be permitted to take holy vows.”
St. Charles Convent, Dec 25, 1986: “Sisters Jane Frances [Geipe] and Martha [Geipe] spent the Christmas holidays with their sister in Rockville, Maryland. Sister Dorothea Marie [Lauttman] enjoyed the holidays with her brother, Bill Lauttman.”
Notre Dame Convent, Dec. 25, 2002: “Because of the heavy snow, most of the sisters remained at 817, rather than joining their families. Rosemary [Dilli] prepared a wonderful chicken dinner for all of us. Marie LeClerc [Zeller] ventured to her niece’s home for dinner. Bill, Betty, and Fran exchanged gifts with Nancy and Chuck.”