Forward in Faith

Construction Updates

 Invitation to Groundbreaking of New Monastery
Event Begins: May 10, 2017

Dear Friends,

As we Sisters move Forward in Faith during our capital campaign, our hearts are touched by the generosity of so many of you who dug deep into your pockets to help us. We would like to invite you to join in the groundbreaking for our new monastery on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. to launch the fulfillment of our dream for a monastery that better suits our present and future needs.

If you plan on attending, please RSVP Sister Elise at 479-783-4147 or via this form.

Although we have not yet reached our campaign goal of $5,000,000, the need to proceed with construction feels urgent. The small fire caused by a lightning strike to the sixth floor of the monastery last May accentuated this need, as our infirm Sisters waited on the third floor deck in a cold rain, ready for a possible evacuation. In a recent meeting with the Fort Smith Planning Commission, Fire Marshall Ronnie Rogers, Division Chief of Fire Prevention and Investigation, stressed the need for us to move forward quickly. “It’s time for these Sisters to have a new building that they can get out of safely,” he said.

Your generous contributions to our capital campaign have thus far raised $1,268,014 in gifts and outstanding pledges. When we started the campaign, we had hoped to include the proceeds from the sale of about ten acres on the southwestern part of our grounds for the construction of a nursing home. Unfortunately, the potential buyer decided not to proceed with the project. As you can see, we are still in need of additional help to reach our goal.

We will include the funds from various rummage sales and auctions during the coming months toward construction of the new monastery. In the meantime the monastery has taken out a no-penalty loan from a local bank. With your continuing contributions to the capital campaign and income from rummage sales and auctions, we hope to repay the loan quickly.

We keep all of you in prayer during this beautiful Easter season, and we ask for your prayers as we continue to move Forward in Faith.


Groundbreaking of the New Monastery

May 10, 2017

The groundbreaking for our new monastery was held on Wednesday, May 10, at 2 p.m. We were joined by Bishop Anthony B. Taylor; Sister Joella Kidwell, OSB, our federation president; Abbot Leonard Wangler, OSB and Subiaco Abbey monks; our campaign chairs Leo and Barbara Anhalt, Buddy and Linda Spradlin, and Tom and Dorothy Calderara; architect Mark Loibner; Fort Smith Vice Mayor Kevin Settle and Council member Tracy Pennartz; Sandi Sanders, and Fr. John Antony.

As Sister Macrina read reflections, four sisters added soil to the groundbreaking site. Sister Joella brought soil from our motherhouse in Ferdinand, IN. Sister Ethel Marie Sonnier brought soil from Shoal Creek, the site of our first Arkansas monastery and the current site of Hesychia House of Prayer. Sister Regina Schroeder brought soil from our monastery cemetery. Finally, Sister Maria DeAngeli, prioress, brought soil from our current monastery entrance, the retreat center, and Trinity JHS (former site of St. Scholastica Academy).

After a beautiful prayer service, all fourteen guests of honor broke ground, and Bishop Taylor blessed the grounds and the community.

Thanks to all the guests who attended, to all who have prayed for us and were with us in spirit, and especially to our alumnae, the "Scho girls," who hosted the reception following the groundbreaking.


Heavy Equipment on Scene

August 1, 2017

The presence of heavy equipment on the monastery grounds on August 1 can only mean one thing--trees marked with red ribbons will be removed and the ground will be prepared for the construction of St. Scholastica's new monastery. God sent a gentle rain last night to soften the ground for the workmen. The sisters are grateful for each step taken in their journey forward in faith, which could not have been accomplished without the help of their supporters.


Benedictine Park Relocated

August 9, 2017

Sister Pierre and her grounds crew recently relocated Benedict Park to an area between the monastery and Trinity JHS, safely away from the construction area, close to the St. Benedict grotto. Thanks, Sister Pierre, for continuing to make our grounds beautiful during this time of temporary disruption.


Keeping Focused

August 10, 2017

It's somewhat amazing, and more than a little sad, to see how quickly the heavy equipment fells acres of trees which gave generations of sisters, students, and visitors so many years of joy, beauty, and shade. On days like these, it's important to keep focused on our mission and move "forward in faith."


As The Wood Pile Grows

August 15, 2017

The wood pile grows a little more each day, as sisters, fenced out of the construction area, peer through the sun deck to bid their trees goodbye. Change is difficult, progress can be painful, but God is ever faithful.


Temporary Roadway

August 31, 2017

The temporary roadway connecting the main monastery parking lot to the rear parking section is completed and it appears that soon the foundation will be laid.


Foundation Preparation

September 6, 2017

The ground has been prepared for the foundation, and the outline of the new monastery is clearly visible in these photos. There will be two residential bedroom wings connected by a central section holding offices, common areas,the narthex and the chapel. As you compare the diagram to the patterns on the ground, you can picture the monastery taking shape.


Foundation Preparation II

September 20, 2017

The workers have laid lots of pipes, are pouring concrete on the main driveway to open up access to the main parking lot again, and are starting to get ready to work on the foundation.


Foundation Outline

October 6, 2017

You can see the clear outline of the foundation in one of the wings of the new monastery where some cement was poured. While the work is continuing, it's still focused primarily on the land around the building site.


Perimeter Outline

October 13, 2017

Today the construction crews began outlining the perimeters of our new monastery with two rows of cement blocks, getting ready to pour the foundation. To the west, we saw several high piles of blacktop getting unloaded on the site of our future parking lot. We are looking forward to lots of progress on the exterior of our new monastery before the cold weather begins.


Foundation Preparation 3

November 2, 2017

The foundation is now outlined in cement blocks and pipes are rising from the foundation. A huge cement mixer sits just east of the foundation, and the sounds of men working and trucks driving back and forth are a constant accompaniment to the sisters' work inside the monastery. It is exciting to see the construction process accelerating.


Foundation Pouring

November 7, 2017

On November 7, workmen started preparing the ground for the foundation to be poured. An exterminator sprayed the ground prior to laying yellow plastic over it. On November 9, the foundation was poured, smoothed, and leveled by machine and a crew of men on their hands and knees. The progress in the first few days of "standard time" has been breathtaking as the workers seek to do as much exterior work as they can before the cold sets in. The sisters pray for the workers each day.


Vertical Progress

November 27, 2017

After three months the Sisters are finally beginning to see some "vertical" progress as workers began framing the building!


North Wing

November 28, 2017

The north wing of the building is completely framed and workers are beginning to put plywood over the frame. Things are moving quickly at this stage of construction.


North Wing Insulation

November 29, 2017

Outdoor workers are putting insulation on the frame of the north wing of the new monastery. Inside the current monastery, a worker is removing 18 stained glass windows and replacing the empty windows with plain glass in order to set the stained glass windows into the chapel of the new monastery.


Taking Shape

December 11, 2017

More construction pictures show that both wings of the new monastery are beginning to take shape, as insulating materials are added to the roof and outer walls. The stained glass windows that will be relocated have been removed from the chapel and are getting cleaned and ready for their new home.


Common Connection

December 15, 2017

The cement truck (at left) is beginning to pour the foundation for some of the common areas of the monastery which will connect the two residential wings you have seen take shape in previous pictures. The beginning of the foundation for the common areas is visible at right.


Shingles Installed

January 10, 2018

Shingles have been installed on the two wings and work had started on the new Monastery front.


Moving Along

February 1, 2018

Things are moving along for the new monastery! February 1, 2018 we were able to take some images of the progress of the new monastery. Safety is always a concern but with hardhats ready Mark gave as a tour of what was happening!

Thanks to all of the workers! Those who took the walk through: Ravi, Brother Francis (was visiting for Catholic Schools Week) and Sister Kimberly.


Wing Connection

February 16, 2018

Siding is going up on the wings. The workers have started framing the remaining part of the building connecting the wings.


Full Days

February 28, 2018

Some full days of activity for the monastery construction zone! God bless all of the workers and those helping with our monastery capital campaign!


Framing Days

March 12, 2018


Months Away

April 13, 2018


Drive Thru and More

May 14, 2018


Summer Strikes

June 18, 2018


A New Path

July 30, 2018


Nearing Construction End

November 26, 2018

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