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The cup reserved for holy service

Lay hidden on a dark and dusty shelf.

Years and years had passed since it

Was a useful vessel of God given grace.

But it carried a rich history of adventure:

A lone missionary priest, roaming

The imposing hills of West Virginia, –

Often on horseback – in the bygone

Time before technology came to rule

The now calcified world of ruthless

Profit and loss. – A relic of yesterday’s

Ancient history, now long forgotten.

West Virginia

(West Virginia)


Once restored, the magic of lost memories

Went to work, painting a colorful scene of

Love and endless sacrifice: The story of a

A long forgotten priest, except in dusty books,

Recalling the relentless missionary spirit

Of the rugged mountain state. – A man of God

Bravely building a world of knowledge

And pure faith for alien hearts eager to know,

To love, and to serve their God.


(Fr. Nicholas Joseph Hengers)

He could not work alone, and so, by

The grace of God, he learned of the

Recent coming of the Missionary Sisters,

Arriving from the distant shore of Europe,

Carrying a vision of their beloved Marienborn,

And a burning desire to create a presence in this

New land, awaiting God’s blessing and his love.


(Sisters Alacoque Radeker, Dominica Senn, Francisca Zabel, and Priska Hess)

And so they came to the hill country– to teach, to heal,

To bring God’s presence to spiritually hungry folks,

Mainly immigrants, – like themselves – struggling

With language, culture and all the wild little town of

Richwood offered. Giving of themselves, they built a

Small kingdom of grace through the sweat and grind of

Everyday life. Allowing God to guide them, forever

Offering hope to the poor who ventured to their door,

Seeking bread for the body, solace for the soul.


(Holy Family Church Window – Richwood, WV)

All is history now, as the saga gently closes

And only the spiritual gifts the priest and sisters

Brought now echoes in the hills, reminding those of

Us who still see the morning sunrise, that God’s

Grace knows no limits. Can we rise to the stature

Of those giants who now rest in heavenly bliss? – Only if

We dare move into an uncertain future, charting new waters;

With hope and courage we can fill other golden cups with our

Creator’s love, continuing the beautiful story our Pioneers began.

Pallotti Laurel

(Pallotti High School Chapel window, Laurel, Md)


By Sr. Phyllis Carpenter, Aug., 2020