Notre Dame Convent - Leipzig

          Notre Dame Convent

          Pictures by Robert Ell.

          "Soon after the completion of the church in Leipzig in 1815, the desire for a convent school became evident. Father Krist, pastor at the time, immediately took up the idea in a very practical manner and with the co-operation of the local Parish Association he set up a building fund which amounted to $500 when Father Krist left the parish. Father Schultz came in 1920 and during his short stay was so enthusiastic about the project that the fund was increased to $3,100. The large property on which the convent is situated was purchased. However, it would be another four years before the plan for a convent school in Leipzig would become a reality. The greatest problem was to find German Sisters who were prepared to take up settlement."

          "The honour of persuading the Notre Dame Sisters to settle in the colony belongs without a doubt, to Father Kierdorf, OMI. In 1925, Father Kierdorf in his capacity as general secretary of the Parish Association visited the motherhouse of the Sisters in Munich, Bavaria. Here he was able to interest the General administration in settlement in Western Canada."

          "Consequently, during the summer of 1926, a delegation of three Notre dame Sisters arrived in Saskatchewan making inquiries about their destination and potential settlement. Father Kohler, OMI of Kerrobert, at the time superior of the colony, met the Sisters by chance in Regine and since he was returing from there brought the Sisters with him to Leipzig. There they were welcomed as a God-Send. The parish was prepared to offer the Sisters the use of a spacious house and the school board was ready to hire two Sisters the next fall with good salaries."

          "The Sisters were visibly satisfied with the proposition and on their departure promised to make their decision soon. It did not take long to get an answer and the bishop was only too happy to give his assent."

          "On August 28, 1926 the first four Sisters from the Canadian Motherhouse in Hamilton, Ontario arrived at Leipzig and recieved a friendly reception at the rectory. The very next day they were able to move into their house which the parish had purchased for $2,500 and comfortably accommodated. Not only was there enough room for the small community of Sisters, but also for a number of children. On September 14, Bishop Prud'homme arrived to welcome the Sisters and to bless the convent and chapel."

          "During the first winter, the Sisters boarded fourteen children. It became immediately evident that there was not enough room in the building to keep the many boarders. The Sisters soon expressed their concern over the problem and suggested that either the old convent be enlarged or a new modern building be constructed. After considerable discussion and delibertaion with the provincial house at Prince Albert, they came to the conclusion to begin construction of a new building immediately in the following year."

          "It was necessary to raise a capital sum of $87,000. Architect P. Desroches from Edmonton was engaged to draw up plans and to supervise the construction."

          "The parish of Leipzig took an active interest in the land near the church to be used as a building site and a garden. Also, the digging of the basement was done by the parish. The men also hauled thousands of loads of sand and gravel and delivered all the building materials from the railroad to the construction site. Over and above the labour, the parish donated more than $7,000 of hard earned money to the cost of the building."

          "The digging began on May 31, 1927. On July 24, when the cornerstone laying ceremonies were held, the basement and the first storey were nearly complete. His Excellency, the Bishop, laid the cornerstone. All the priests of the colony as well as a large crowd of people from the whole territory were present at the ceremony."

          "By December 28, the new convent was nearly ready for the Sisters to move in. The first Mass was celebrated in the Convent chapel the next day. A few days later, after the Christmas holidays, 56 children arrived to take up residence in the magnificent building."

          All the information above is taken from "St. Joseph's Colony 1905-1930" A Translation by Lambert and Tillie Schneider.