Bishop Stephen Berg was the main celebrant at a Mass on June 25 at St. Mary Help of Christians in Pueblo to honor the 60th anniversary of the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament. Seven priests concelebrated. Also in attendance were Sr. Josephine Roney from Waterville, Maine representing the American sisters, Sr. Maria Fe, provincial superior and Sr. Maria Catherine who came from the Philippines for the occasion.
The foundation in Pueblo was started by the American sisters in 1956 and continued by the Filipina sisters in 2009, but the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament were formed long before coming to Pueblo. The congregation was founded by St. Peter Julian Eymard on July 31,1859, in Angers, France. The Congregation is centered on the person of Christ in the fullness of the Eucharistic Mystery and wholly dedicated to his love and glory. The celebration of the Eucharist, the Liturgy of the Hours, and Eucharistic adoration give form to its mission of prayer.
When four sisters arrived in Pueblo in 1956 from their convent in Maine, Bishop Joseph Willging, the first Bishop of Pueblo along with Msgrs. Elwood Voss and George Holland welcomed them. Their first home in Pueblo was on Oakland Avenue, a structure originally built as the home for the CF & I superintendents. It then served for a few years as a convent for the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati and later as the minor seminary for the Diocese of Pueblo.
More sisters soon arrived from Maine. Perpetual Adoration began in the chapel which came to be known as “ The Cenacle.” From the very beginning, the laity supported and participated faithfully in the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The Nocturnal Adoration Society formed a local chapter in Pueblo in April 1957 and held its first formal night of adoration in May 1957 at the Cenacle. The Nocturnal Adoration Society still continues in Pueblo to this day.
In October 1984, at the invitation of Bishop Tafoya, the Sisters moved Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament from the Cenacle to the Cathedral of the Sacrament Heart. They had been at the cenacle for 28 years but were finding it increasingly difficult to care for the buildings and grounds. Moreover, the Bishop desired to have the Cathedral as the center of Eucharistic worship for the City. On October 16, of that year, the sisters celebrated the move with a closing Mass at the Cenacle. Immediately the next day, exposition of the Blessed Sacrament began at the Cathedral after the morning liturgy. Eventually, six sisters took up residence at the former Chancery at 1426 Grand Avenue, which was four blocks north of the Cathedral.
Another move was in store for the sisters as in 1995 Bishop Tafoya offered them the convent at St. Mary Help of Christians Parish at 311 E. Mesa Avenue. The convent had been vacant since the departure of the Benedictine Sisters. The bishop felt that the physical set-up there would be more practical and suitable for the sisters. On October 4, 1995, just as the Benedictine priests were about to turn over the parish to the Diocese, Msgr. Ervin Schmitt, the incoming pastor, along with the parish council, officially welcomed the sisters to St. Mary’s. The Sisters moved into their new residence at the end of January 1996. Since that time, daily adoration and the Nocturnal Adoration Society’s monthly adoration, have been held at the parish. The sisters’ chapel is used for adoration when other special services, such as weddings, funerals and other activities are held in the church.
Two Vietnamese sisters of the congregation helped in Pueblo for approximately two years, returning to Vietnam before Sr. Josephine and Sr. Lucille were called to return to their convent in Waterville, Maine in 2008. Two other sisters, Sisters Lorraine and Mary Michael were in a Pueblo nursing home and unable to return to Maine. Sr. Lorraine died in April 2011 and Sr. Mary Michael in June 2014.
In order to continue the Congregation’s presence and Eucharistic ministry in Pueblo, the American sisters invited sisters in the Philippines. Soon four sisters arrived in Pueblo and two other sisters have come through the years to serve at the Pueblo House. After prayerful discernment by both the American Region and the Philippine Province, the General Council approved the transfer of responsibility of the House of Pueblo to the Philippine Province . On July 7, 2010, the transfer became official.
The sisters presence can be felt as they continue to carry on the mission of their congregation. The main ministry of the sisters is the daily adoration program at St. Mary's. Many lay people assists them in this mission. They also serve in many other roles at the parish such as serving as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion and lectors, maintaining care of the altar, altar linens and church decorations, leading the rosary at a local nursing facility once a week, bringing communion to the homebound and nursing homes and joining the Filipino community rosary group at their prayer meetings.