Soon, Catholics in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis will no longer need a passport to get a taste of what life is like in such exotic places as the South Pacific island of Tonga, India or New Zealand.
On Tuesday, May 5, the Missionary Sisters of St. Peter Claver will dedicate a new museum showcasing hundreds of artifacts from around the world inside their St. Paul convent.
The Frontiers of Faith Claver Mission Center, located at 265 Century Ave., is designed to be a hands-on museum — a feast for the senses — dedicated to the work of missionaries around the world.
“This is not a typical museum,” said Sister Genevieve Kudlik, superior of the St. Paul community. “It’s something that we hope [to use] to help people understand the cultures and traditions of different countries, their religions, their beliefs . . . and why evangelization is needed today in the world.”
The extensive collection includes colorful hand-painted instruments from Aborigines in Australia, animal horns used to carry human ashes from Central Africa, a Buddhist altar from India and a sacred Congolese idol pierced with dozens of nails, each representing a young girl sacrificed to the gods.
All of the items in the museum were gifts to the sisters from missionaries serving in different parts of the world.
Sister Genevieve, who is from Poland, said she hopes the museum will inspire school children and adults alike to get involved in mission work.
The Missionary Sisters of St. Peter Claver invite the public to attend a blessing and dedication of the new Frontiers of Faith Claver Mission Center with Archbishop John Nienstedt.
• Day: Tuesday, May 5
• Schedule: 7:30 a.m. Mass, 8:30 a.m. eucharistic adoration, 11 a.m. dedication ceremony, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. open house, 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. eucharistic adoration, 5 p.m. vespers and Benediction
• Place: Convent of the Sisters of St. Peter Claver, 265 Century Ave., St. Paul
Until recently, most of the museum’s collection had been in storage. When the sisters decided to outsource the printing of their magazine, Echo from Africa and Other Continents, which tells the stories of missionaries in the field, rooms that for decades had housed printing machines and other equipment opened up.
Mother Maria Moryl, former superior of the St. Paul community, came up with the idea to house a museum in the empty space.
After Mother Moryl was appointed superior general in fall 2007 and moved to Rome, Sister Genevieve and the other sisters residing at the convent carried out her vision.
For two years, they sorted items, labeled them and created colorful displays.
Some objects include tags with information such as the country of origin and a date. Others are more of a mystery, though the sisters are conducting research to fill in the blanks.
The museum includes three spacious rooms. One room houses displays representing each of the continents and Oceania. There is also a multimedia room, where visitors will be able to watch films and slide shows on a large flat-screen TV, and a conference room that can seat about 50.
“I think it could be a great spot for religious education groups,” said Deacon Mickey Friesen, director of the archdiocesan Center for Mission. “It’s a place right here in our own backyard where, in a sense, the mission is brought to us.”
Deacon Friesen referred to the sisters as a “wonderful witness.”
“These are women who themselves are from all over the world . . . and they’ve dedicated their lives to telling the stories of the mission. They put such love and care and a lot of effort into this [project].”
The seven sisters residing at the St. Paul convent are from Poland, Samoa, Ireland, Tonga and Vietnam.
“This museum will be a wonderful part of our apostolate as a mission animation,” said Sister Monika Zwiek, who is from Poland. “We’ll have a chance to show people the cultures where the missionaries are going to evangelize to bring the Gospel, and we can show people the fruit of their evangelization.”
After May 5, the museum will be open to the public by appointment.
To make an appointment to visit the Frontiers of Faith Claver Mission Center, call (651) 738-9704 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The Catholic Spirit
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