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History of St. Joseph Heights: Above-ground treasures

Posted on: July 27, 2018 10:00 am
Tags: Archives, Did you know, Blog,

This photo is included on page 49 in the book "Covington’s Sisters of Notre Dame". It displays the sisters praying the outdoor Stations of the Cross along the poplar walk leading to the cemetery. The sculptures were a gift in honor of their parents. Preceding the first Station, an engraved plaque identified the benefactors: "In loving memory of Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Meiners. Gift of Mary and Antonie Meiners. August 5, 1939." To obtain more information about the book, contact Sr. M. Joan Terese Niklas, SND in the Archives at 859-392-8120.

by Sister Mary Joan Terese Niklas, SND Archivist

This month the focus is upon some of the “Above-Ground Treasures” in the yard at St. Joseph Heights.

In 1939 the small shrines that formed the outdoor Way of the Cross were a gift from Maria and Antonie Meiners, the siblings of Sister M. Angela. Sr. M. Angela received a message from the Express Company: “You have a 300-pound package in our office!” The package contained 14 terracotta sculptures of the outdoor Way of the Cross. The workmen at St. Joseph Heights built small shrines for each sculpture. After enduring many challenging weather conditions, the originals were replaced by low, podium-like structures displaying the same pictures as the Stations in the convent chapel. These are very accessible for the viewing of sisters using wheelchairs.

On July 4, 1943 a large, rustic wooden Cross was dedicated during the opening ceremony of the day. The plaque stated: “This Cross, the emblem of Christ the Hope of the World, is dedicated to our friends and the children of our friends now serving our country and our allies in the Armed forces of America (WWII). Almighty God, make us worthy of the sacrifice and the victory by which the rights of man can be restored.” Due to the adverse effects of the weather through the years, a new Cross, accompanied by the original plaque, is now located on the east side of the property.

Prior to 1963 when Notre Dame Academy re-located from downtown Covington to Park Hills, a nostalgic wooden bridge spanned a small creek – the remnant of the former pond on the Heck farm. The bridge led to the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes. With the construction of the new school building, it was necessary to raze the shrine. In 1976 a new Lourdes shrine was blessed on May 23. The white Carrara marble statues came from Italy. Guido Bresciani was the sculptor. A bronze plaque identified the benefactor: “In Memory of Clara Archinger 1976.”

In 1987 a small memorial garden was erected on the pathway to the cemetery. Within this resting place were two simple, cement benches and several large stones. One of the stones bore the inscription St. Aloysius Orphanage Alumni 1987. In May 1877, approximately 100 years prior to this date, the Sisters of Notre Dame had arrived at the orphanage. After participating in Mass in the orphanage chapel, the Sisters visited the classrooms. Each child received a holy card and a handful of nuts! To this day, some of the former residents continue contact with their previous “group mothers” via letters, phone calls, and personal visits.

The latest above-ground treasures include a water garden reflection/ meditation area. A small pond and gazebo surrounded with a variety of colorful, floral arrangements provide a source of beauty and peace. In addition, large rocks – each bearing the name of a fruit of the Holy Spirit (e.g., charity, joy, peace, etc.) – are interspersed throughout the garden. The gazebo, as well as a Nature Trail and Bird Blind, were projects of two Eagle Scouts.

Phil Accardi
Date: on July 31, 2018

Thank you for this article,Sister Joan. I found it fascinating and entertaining to read about a place I am not only familiar with but for which I have a warm feeling. Pax et Bonum

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