Our BeginningsIn 1929, Miss Elizabeth Moehring, a good friend of our St. Josephs Home in St. Charles, Missouri, left her entire estate to our congregation for the purpose of establishing a convent and a Home for elderly people, which she wanted to be called St. Agnes Home. She wished that under the loving and gentle care of the Sisters, the Residents in this Home would be able to spend their senior years in peace and comfort, under the same roof with the Blessed Sacrament.
After an exhaustive inquiry, the purchase of the Vogelsang farm seemed to be the answer to our prayer for a suitable location. Mr. Vogelsang had frequently mentioned to his family that he would like to see his farm in the ownership of Catholic Sisters who would treasure and preserve his beautiful trees. The 21 acre wooded tract in secluded Kirkwood, bordering on Manchester Road, was purchased with the funds from the Moehring estate, and construction began. The original three-story main building of St. Agnes Home was dedicated on June 16, 1935, by the Most Reverend Christian Winklemann, Auxiliary Bishop of St. Louis.
Early AdditionsLess than three years after St. Agnes Home was erected, blessed and put into operation, it was favored through the gracious mediation of Most Rev. John Glennon, Archbishop of St. Louis with the generous bequest of Mrs. Catherine Fruin Colnon in 1937. She designated a portion of her fortune to a memorial home for the aged in honor of her father and her husband. Thus, our Sisters were given the opportunity and the means to multiply their charitable activities and extend their care to those whom Divine Providence would send them. The new three-story Fruin Colnon Memorial building would accommodate an additional fifty residents and contain on the ground floor a large library with seven hundred and ninety volumes from the collection of the late Mr. Colnon. In addition, every practical modern convenience was incorporated into the building, including a large solarium and wood burning fireplaces on each floor.
In March 1941 a new convent was added to St. Agnes Home. Its construction was guided by the tireless effort and foresight of Mother Mary Agnes of the Immaculate Conception, who was the Local Superior at the time. It should be noted that in the design and construction of the four additions to the original main building, great care was taken by the architect, Raymond E. Maritz of St. Louis, to achieve the greatest possible harmony in the architecture. The blending of the new and the old has been so successful that it is hard to tell from observation alone that the entire structure was not completed at one time.
On October 18, 1952, the cornerstone of the new Chapel and that of the Fruin Colnon Wing were laid and blessed by Most Rev. Joseph E. Ritter, Archbishop of St. Louis. This was an addition to the Memorial wing in honor of Mrs. Fruin Colnons father and husband. Once, during the construction process, a delay in the work received international publicity. A mother robin selected a place in the concrete formwork to build her nest, complete with four tiny blue eggs. When it became necessary for the work in progress to either move ahead or stop, the President of Vollmer Construction ordered the work to cease until the wee ones had become fledglings. When questioned about the order, the President quipped, "Im no bird lover I just respect a fellow contractor."
Later ExpansionDedication ceremonies for the new Chapel and Wing took place on January 21, 1954. The combination of beauty and simplicity for which the Chapel is known may be credited to the direction and suggestions of Mother M. Dorothy of Divine Mercy, who was then Local Superior.
There were no major renovations or additions to St. Agnes Home for the next twenty years, until 1976, when the original Memorial Wing was extended, providing for an Infirmary Activities/Dining Room on the first floor and enlarging the existing Social Hall in the basement. This was followed, in 1987, by the construction of a Chaplains Residence. Dedicated in April 1988, the Residence was made possible through a bequest from the estate of Rev. Msgr. Edward Kennedy and his family, in thanksgiving for the care given to his parents by our Sisters.
In 1985, the Carmelite Child Development Center was established on the same property as St. Agnes Home due to the promptings of Mother M. Sigfrieda, Superior General at the time. This dear Mother insisted that the Central Province of our Carmel D.C.J. needed a home for children. The presence of the little ones through their weekly visits of songs and smiles have proved to be, and will continue to be for the future, a blessing for the residents of St. Agnes Home.
The 2000s and the Renewal of St. Agnes HomeAt the turn of the millennium, our Sisters were faced with the knowledge that our 75 year old building was in dire need of renovations and upgrading if we were to continue our mission in the Church of providing a home of love and faith to the aged of St. Louis. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, our Sisters took on the enormous task of beginning a ten million dollar capital campaign in 2005 for the renewal of St. Agnes Home.
In the fall of 2006, our congregation celebrated the beatification of our foundress, Mother Maria Teresa of St. Joseph, with concrete plans for an expansion and renovation of St. Agnes Home, a task placed into the hands of The Lawrence Group architectural firm and HBD Construction, general contractors. The Archdiocese of St. Louis gave impetus to the project with the remodeling of the second floor of St. Agnes Wing as a residence for their retired priests. Archbishop Raymond L. Burke dedicated this area as the Pope John Paul II residence on February 26, 2006.
On September 9, 2006, ground was broke for a new addition. Thanks to many generous benefactors and tremendous spiritual support, the Sansone Wing, containing one level of two-room apartments and a full-care nursing level, was completed and ready for occupancy in March of 2008.
Later that year on October 30th, the newly renovated Desloge Wing, formerly the Fruin-Colnon Wing, was blessed by Bishop Robert Herman and re-opened for occupancy. Renovations to the Memorial Wing, now known as Fruin-Colnon Memorial Wing, began in January of 2010. In the midst of our Jubilee Year (2009-2010), St. Agnes Home celebrated its 75th Anniversary on July 16th, 2010, at which time Archbishop George Lucas of the diocese of Omaha, Nebraska blessed the fully renovated Fruin-Colnon Memorial Wing in the midst of much joy and celebration.
Less than a month later, the oldest and only remaining wing to be brought up-to-date, the original St. Agnes Wing, encompassing among other areas the kitchen, main dining room, and front entrance, was closed for renovation. After six long months of a makeshift kitchen and dining room and after undergoing four years of building renovations with plenty of drilling, dust, and prayers, the conclusion of the renewal of St. Agnes Home was celebrated with a Mass and blessing of St. Agnes Wing with Bishop-Emeritus Robert Herman once again presiding on January 21, 2011, the feast of St. Agnes.
With a rich and beautiful history behind us, the Carmel of the Divine Heart of Jesus eagerly looks to the future, taking to heart the wish of our foundress that all of her homes be a place where seniors can spend "a quiet evening of life, lighted up by peace and warmed by God's love." With hearts full of zeal and eager anticipation, we look forward to bearing abundant fruit in the lives of the old and young in the Archdiocese of St. Louis for many years to come.
Biography of St. Agnes
Agnes was martyred during the reign of Diocletian around 304 at the age of thirteen. She was born in Rome, and at an early age decided to dedicate her virginity to God.
Many young noblemen, attracted by her beauty and riches, sought her hand in marriage. But she told them "Christ is my Spouse." They accused her of being Christian, and brought her before a judge who threatened her with death by torture and fire unless she renounced her loyalty to Christ. Undaunted by his threats, the judge sent her to a prostitution house. She retained her purity and when brought again to the judge, he ordered her beheaded.
St. Agnes is a virgin martyr of the early Church. Her name means "lamb." She is commemorated in the Canon of the Mass, and her feast day is January 21.