Friday 02.10.2017

Convent Crawl Gives An Experience of Diversity in Religious Life

The former chapel in the convent building at Our Lady of the Presentation Church years ago was subdivided into two small rooms, an informal entry/waiting area and an office.

Nothing extraordinary about it…except that God’s work still happens in that space.

Whereas the sounds of Mass or the silence of prayer once dominated, the musical notes of joy now fill the air. Under the auspice of Sister Brenda Fritz, D.C., the parish’s music director, the convent has been transformed into the Presentation Arts Center, an arts ministry thriving in its first year.

The parish offers after-school music lessons in piano, violin, and guitar, with drums hopefully on the horizon. Through a partnership with Ritenour School District, high school students volunteer as teachers and International Welcome Center students can get free music lessons.

Religious sisters such as Sister Brenda, a Daughter of Charity, joyfully spearhead numerous vibrant ministries in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, filling vital roles in education, health care, social services, and more. The accomplished women live their dreams while serving the Lord.

Sister Brenda’s unique arts ministry ranks among many with accomplished women doing the Lord’s work. The program grew out of the parish viability study, which showed it needed to shore up its outreach and young adult ministries. Sister Brenda oversees the new arts center, which includes “amazing art classes” for adults during the day and weekly quilters.

With the arts center, Sister Brenda is building on a bachelor’s degree in piano presentation from Chicago’s DePaul University — a Vincentian School — where she first encountered the Daughters.

“I felt they were very balanced women,” said Sister Brenda, who entered the community 29 years ago. “They worked hard, prayed hard and had such a joy. I loved their community life. Of course, their service of the poor … Wow!”

At Presentation, Sister Brenda fulfills the community’s charism by reaching out to families in need. Venezuela and Mexico are represented among her students, including Benjamin Delgado. With his mom and two brothers in the waiting room on a recent day, he played a portable piano her office, just to the side of canopy above the former altar space.

“It’s only his second lesson,” she told a visitor. “He’s totally nailing it.”

Excerpt taken from the St. Louis Review.