Sisters of Mary Morning Star addition blessed Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Mar. 14, 2019 -- 12:00 AM
morningstar addition
Msgr. James Bartylla, diocesan administrator, blesses the new addition at the Sisters of Mary Morning Star convent in Monona on March 3, while Sisters and guests look on To view or purchase photos, go to (Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)

MONONA -- It’s called “New Jerusalem”.

It’s the new addition to the convent of the Sisters of Mary Morning Star in Monona, located at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish.

The addition, which took only six months to build, includes guest rooms, cells for Sisters, a library, and a workroom.

On March 3, the Sisters held an open house of the new addition for supporters and community members that wanted to take a tour and see the building.

A blessing ceremony was held later and performed by Msgr. James Bartylla, diocesan administrator.

A look at the addition

The ground level of the addition, located on the spot where a garage used to be, is mostly made up of guest rooms for people who attend retreats at the convent.

Recently, the rooms housed members of St. Paul University Catholic Center in Madison, with whom the Sisters have a spiritual relationship.

The rooms contain a bed, chair, and desk.

In addition to the guest rooms, there is also a kitchen area, available for use by those who stay in the guest rooms.

The basement level, still being finished, will house a workroom for the Sisters.

At the convent, the Sisters make items, such as: leathercraft, pottery, candles, woodwork, calligraphy, and homemade jams.

Some of these are available for purchase at the guesthouse.

The upper level of the addition contains mostly cloister cells for the Sisters, along with an office for Prioress St. Mary Thomas Leary.

The cells contain a bed mattress on the floor, desk, and prayer area.

The Sisters typically eat their meals alone in their cells to “eat with Jesus,” as one Sister there said.

There are now enough rooms at the convent for 10 Sisters to reside there.

Blessing the addition

Monsignor Bartylla, along with Fr. Chad Droessler, pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Monona, where the convent is located, presided over the blessing ceremony.

The Sisters led everyone in an opening hymn before Monsignor Bartylla gave some opening remarks.

“We have gathered here to bless a house,” he said. “For the love of Christ, we bring together those, who in charity and virginity and poverty and obedience” desire to follow him more faithfully and closely.

“Relying on the goodness of God from whom all blessings flow, we pray that those who live here will conform their way of life to what they have promised.”

Later, during a brief homily, Monsignor Bartylla noted the late Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison — who died in November — would have loved to be there on that day, since he always wanting to bring an Order of Sisters to the Diocese of Madison.

“There’s something very special about bringing in the Sisters of Mary Morning Star to the diocese and the way it all came about,” he said. “It’s a source of great joy.”

He added that many people might have benefitted from the presence of the Sisters “in a way you didn’t expect” saying there is a “sense of something we didn’t know we needed, particularly, but know the blessing of it when it arrives.”

He later remarked that the Catholic Church is both Petrine in hierarchy and Marian, as well. He said the Sisters help to provide a “fullness” to the Church.

“I hope you all have the ability to share in that more mystical part of the Church,” Monsignor Bartylla said toward the guests in attendance.

The Sisters then led a procession outside where the door of the addition was blessed by Monsignor Bartylla.

A brief litany to the Blessed Virgin Mary was sang and prayed at each spot that was blessed.

Next would come the kitchen, guest rooms, Sisters’ cells, and library.

Litanies were prayed at each spot, while separate groups of guests at the ceremony waited at each spot for the procession to arrive.

The ceremony closed with a final blessing in the refectory with the Sisters singing the “Magnificat”.

The Sisters thanked NCI-Roberts Construction and Schoenherr Design & Drafting Services for their help with the project.

Looking to the future

Phase two of the project will be a new chapel, which is expected to cost nearly $400,000.

With the current chapel deemed to be “too small,” the Sisters want to build a new chapel to help lead people, especially younger generations, through beauty, simple materials, and the use of natural light.

The space would also serve as worship space for the Sister’s contemplative life.

They hope to break ground for the new chapel in the spring of 2021.

The Sisters are asking for prayers and financial support to complete these projects.

For information on donating, contact the Sisters at 608-224-0251 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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