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Motherly love

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By Brandon Mattingly

I’ve spoken before about finding “hidden gems” in Washington County; places that unless you’ve lived here your entire life, you may not have had a clue existed.

Last week, I was introduced to the St. Catharine Motherhouse, and though it’s certainly not hidden, it may best be described as an “underappreciated gem.”

I admit that before last week, I knew little to nothing about the massive brick building in the center of the campus at St. Catharine College. I mean, I can read the signs, so I knew the sisters resided there, but what I didn’t know was just how entrenched in the history of Washington County they really are.

The sisters have been in Springfield since the early 19th century. That’s long enough to see a relocation from Hwy 152, their previous (even larger) facility burn to the ground in the early 1900s and a re-build of their following (and home) from there.

They honor their history as well, with a fantastic collection of historical information that tracks their story from day one.

The building itself, however, was the most jaw-dropping aspect of my visit.

From elegant stained-glass windows to hand-carved woodwork to statues salvaged from the fire over a century ago, everywhere you turn at St. Catharine, there’s another remarkable piece to appreciate.

While the craftsmanship dropped my jaw, it was the people I met who touched my heart.

Srs. Diane Traffas and Elaine DesRosiers were gracious hosts and provided an amazing crash course on everything St. Catharine. I left feeling like I knew all there was to know about the sisters and their past, when in reality there’s no way I could take in everything they’ve accomplished in one day.

You can’t be introduced to anyone in that building without receiving a kind word and a smile in return, either. The atmosphere is as welcoming as any place I’ve ever been, and I can’t help but feel like every visitor recieves that same treatment.

This week marks National Catholic Sisters Week, so it’s the perfect time to recognize them for being part of the backbone that Springfield and Washington County is built on.

On Tuesday afternoon, St. Catharine hosted an event for Sisters Week, where they honored each other for the tireless work they put in. A small gesture, but one that shows each other that they truly care.
While it’s great that they recognize what each other is doing, maybe it’s time everyone else does too.