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HAL program to highlight Mother Leonarda Hannappel


Mon, Jan 8th 2024 01:30 pm

The Historical Association of Lewiston’s next program, “Leonarda’s Journey,” will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 25, at the Lutheran Church of the Messiah Fellowship Hall, 915 Oneida St.

A press release noted, “Sister Mary Serbacki and Sister Diane Gianadda will present a short film that relates the life of Mother Leonarda Hannappel and her journey to establish the North American foundation of the Sisters of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity. It begins with her childhood in Germany, including a tragedy that likely helped to set the course of her life. It chronicles her later voyage to the U.S. and the difficulties and joys encountered along the way as she was instrumental in establishing the presence of the Sisters of St. Francis in this country in 1874 and the establishment of Stella Niagara on the banks of the Niagara River in 1908.”

Sister Mary will speak about the foundation of the congregation and the importance of 2024 as the community celebrates the 150th anniversary of its presence in the U.S. Sister Diane, as executive producer of “Leonarda’s Journey,” will share some of her experiences in making the movie.

Sister Diane is a social worker and is the director of the Women’s Respite Program (Francis Center), which provides weekend respites for women in Western New York. These events are held at Stella Niagara and provide opportunities for relaxation and support for low-income single mothers, grandmothers raising their grandchildren, mothers of children on the autism spectrum, and women with cancer.

Sister Mary is native of Niagara Falls and a graduate of Stella Niagara. After obtaining a M.A. in history and archives administration from the University of Michigan, she returned to Stella to serve as archivist for Holy Name Province. She also serves as congregation archivist and has worked in those archives, which are located in the congregation’s generalate in Rome, Italy. Sister Mary is also a past president of the Historical Association of Lewiston.

This community event is free and open to all, “but donations are greatly appreciated to help support the museum.” Refreshments will be served.

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