by Eileen Dushek-Manthe

Ssiter Kathleen Hayes with a letter.Kathleen Hayes, OP, had a package waiting for her when she reached her office at Divine Mercy Parish (formerly Immaculate Conception), Faribault, in early November. It was marked, simply, “Please give to the Dominican Sisters.” Inside, she found a handwritten note with an explanation for the remaining contents of the envelope. It read, “To Dominican Sisters, I Found This Billfold at the Rock Island Train Station in Faribault many year ago. I was hard up at the Time and Failed to Return it But am Returning it now, Please Do what you need to With it! Thank You I am sorry! There was 64.00 in it as now.”

The wallet and a small envelope were inside. Sure enough, there was $64 cash in the wallet. But to whom did it belong and why did the person return it to the Dominican Sisters? Kathleen investigated and found “Sister Romana Fiedler, Bethlehem Academy” [Sister Ann Fiedler, OP (1920–1975)], on the small envelope. This contained a paper from July 3, 1961, to keep track of her personal budget and return it to her local superior. The wallet held the cash, a University of Illinois student identification card, photos, a library card, and two professional music education membership cards. In the small envelope were also several items that indicate that Romana was traveling between Faribault and Omaha. Did she make the trip or lose her wallet and envelope before she got on the train? Her notes and a half-used packet of meal tickets stamped “MUSIC WORKSHOP” imply that she may very well have been returning from a conference at Omaha. Other items in the small envelope were 4-cent stamps; handwritten directions for the train trip; mailing receipts for packages; another envelope with a mailing date of June 16, 1961; and two exemption certificates for “tax on transportation of persons.” Those were signed “Sister M. Cyrilla [Grogan, OP (1888–1972)], Treas.,” who was the Faribault convent business officer.

Kathleen had questions. Who had these items? Why did the person keep them all this time? What is going on in this person’s life that everything was being returned now? She wanted to thank the person; but how? Since everything was returned through the church, Kathleen thought maybe placing a thank you in the parish bulletin was the answer.

Kathleen knew she had to complete one task—return the items to the Archives at the Motherhouse in Sinsinawa. Archivist Lois Hoh, OP, was just as puzzled by the package and its contents. We may never know the answers to the questions of this mystery, but we do know that someone was obviously helped by the contents of the wallet in 1961 and is grateful today.

Click for Spectrum January 2020 Index

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