by Dean Backes
Special to The Leaven
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Throughout their working lives, the Sisters of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT) deal with many of the same hardships as the people they serve.
While they are out in the world making disciples and serving in areas of deep apostolic need, their ministry often takes them to places where running water, much less air conditioning, is a luxury. The order currently ministers in nine locations throughout the United States, and in Belize, Guatemala, Mexico, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Thailand and Australia.
Through the hard work of Terry and Peggy Dunn and Jay and Lynn Reardon of Church of the Nativity in Leawood and Mark and Abby Henke of St. Ann Parish in Prairie Village, however, these Sisters will be provided for in their retirement.
All three couples have been called on to help raise money for the building of a new SOLT motherhouse in Violet, Texas, that will allow the order’s Sisters to remain living in community following retirement and have their daily needs taken care of.
“They had a need and they called on me to assist,” said SOLT chair of the advisory board Terry Dunn. “That need was to build a motherhouse.
“I’ve had a very nice relationship with the society, and I believe they are totally committed to evangelization and discipleship, especially when it comes to people that are at great risk.”
The current convent in Corpus Christi, Texas, is not accommodating to the Sisters as they age and there have been concerns that it gives rise to health and mobility risks. Therefore, discussions to build a new facility began in late 2015. The motherhouse strategic plan was formalized in 2019 and put into action in 2020. Groundbreaking was undertaken Dec. 2. 2022.
Plans call for the building of a 21,000-square-foot structure that will house a single level residence that is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, 10 assisted-living rooms, 10 independent rooms, a chapel and a sacristy, kitchen and dining areas, a community center, a visiting nurse station, staff offices and a library.
The projected cost of the project is $6.5 million and will take about two years to build. At this point in time, the average age of the SOLT Sisters is 51 and there are 16 sisters in the United States that are 65 years old or older.
Not only are the Sisters young in age, but so is the order. Father James Flanagan founded SOLT in 1958 within the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
According to the order’s website, the Sisters’ ministries range from rural catechesis and evangelization to work with immigrants, teaching in Catholic schools and serving in remote island parishes. They have also served in inner-city parishes, running drug rehabilitation centers.
“I’m drawn to them because of their enthusiasm and for what they do in the community, what they do for others in their missions,” SOLT board member Lynn Reardon said. “They are nuns, and they are servants of the Lord. They are very devoted to the Blessed Mother. I think they do a lot of good work.”
SOLT finance council volunteer Mark Henke said you can’t help but realize how amazing the Sisters of SOLT are when you first meet them.
“I like the work they do at Our Lady’s Montessori School in Wyandotte County,” Henke said. “I’ve known about that school, and I’m just really impressed with the work they are doing there. The Sisters work all over the world. They move around. They’re just a really interesting group of people.”
Lynn Reardon said taking care of SOLT’s women religious is a wonderful way to pay them back for all of their sacrifice.
“They are just a wonderful group of women who devoted their lives to Christ and they work hard in our communities throughout the world,” she said. “To have them taken care of when their bodies start falling apart is a lovely thing.
“They’re trying to make the world a better place. And it certainly would be nice for all of us to make their world a nicer place as they grow older and their bodies can’t do the things they were able to do in the past. When you make sure they’re comfortable, you’re kind of giving back for everything they’ve given so selflessly.”
Contributions to the project can be made securely online at: solt.net/motherhouse or by mailing a check to: SOLT Sisters, Attn: Sr. Mary Mediatrix, P.O. Box 4116, Corpus Christi, TX 78469. Donors can also make a pledge by downloading a gift agreement at the web address above or contact Laurel Sharpe, the motherhouse campaign director, by email at: email@example.com.