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BVM Christmas Service Tradition Lives On

BVM Christmas Service Tradition Lives On

Students at Dowling Catholic High School in Des Moines, Iowa, prepare to deliver Christmas gifts to families with BVMs Carol Marie Baum and Mira Mosle.

Christmas is a time for traditions, and sisters were able to see the fruits of a BVM tradition established long ago at a Des Moines, Iowa, high school.

Three BVM sisters and one associate gathered in a darkened, packed gymnasium at Dowling Catholic High School for a candlelight service that concluded a Christmas service basket project that helped 90 families have a better holiday.

The candlelight service and Christmas project are part of the legacy of the BVMs, who founded St. Joseph Academy (SJA) in Des Moines in 1885 as a school for girls. In 1972, it merged with a boys’ school, and became Dowling Catholic High School.

The school-wide project raised $40,000 in cash, which doesn’t include the value of gifts for the families.

One family was overwhelmed with gratitude with the delivery of two mattresses and box springs and a washing machine, as well as food, clothing, and gifts.

BVMs Carol Marie Baum, Mira Mosle, and Nancy McCarthy take part in a candlelighting service at Dowling Catholic High School in Des Moines, a tradition carried on from BVMs.

BVMs Nancy McCarthy and Mira Mosle, who taught at the school, and BVM Carol Marie Baum and associate and director of BVM Life and Mission Lori Ritz, SJA graduates, were able to go with students to deliver the gifts.

“I’m so glad we did it. I’m so impressed with the way the students had been prepared. They had interviewed the family to find out what they needed,” says Nancy, who taught French for four years at SJA and then eight at Dowling. “Everything is new, beautiful, and bigger, but the spirit really seems the same.”

Speakers at the candlelight service told the students they had done more than provide material goods: they had given the families hope and a sense of well-being.

The candlelight prayer service was simple but profound, says Nancy, who had not been back to Dowling in 40 years.

BVMs hope to be part of the Dowling project each year. This year they donated a gift card for each family.

“We are proud to share this heritage,” says Dr. Dan Ryan, Dowling president. “Thank you for being our partners in so many ways over so many years. The candlelighting tradition has changed some over time, but the reason we are here today remains the same—to pause and prepare our hearts for the birth of Jesus Christ, the reason for this school.”


Dr. Dan Ryan, President Dowling Catholic, Welcomes BVM Sisters

Today we come together for a tradition begun decades ago by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, known as the BVM Sisters, who founded St. Joseph’s Academy, one of the founding schools that came together to shape Dowling Catholic High School today.  We are proud to share this heritage. This year we are uniquely blessed to have members of the BVM community here: Sr. Mira, Sr. Nancy, Sr. Carol Marie and Lori Ritz, Director of BVM Life and Mission. The BVM sisters are here today not only to pray with us at candlelighting, but also to join Dowling Catholic in helping local families. The BVM community bought a gift card to include in every Christmas Basket and will accompany our students in making deliveries today. Thank you for being our partners in so many ways over so many years.

The candlelighting tradition has changed some over time, but the reason we are here today remains the same—to pause and prepare our hearts for the birth of Jesus Christ, the reason for this school.

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