ALLOUEZ — A building next to St. Matthew Church, which originally served as a convent for the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross, is again a home for women serving God and the church.
Nazareth Home, located at 2589 S. Webster Ave., is a residence for women who strive to live six charisms, according to house directors Kate Ruth, a youth minister at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and Torey Gostas, a sophomore at UW-Green Bay. The six charisms include: joy, simplicity, hospitality, purity, charity and wonder. A St. Matthew parishioner painted a mural of the charisms near the kitchen.
“Because it is the Nazareth Home, we want to dedicate ourselves to Jesus, Mary and Joseph and always ask them to pray for us,” said Ruth. The mission of Nazareth Home originated from paragraph #533 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and is posted on the family bulletin board:
“The hidden life at Nazareth allows everyone to enter into fellowship with Jesus with the most ordinary events of daily life: The home of Nazareth is the school where we begin to learn the life of Jesus — the school of the Gospel.”
“To have that be our center and the simplicity that comes with that is important,” explained Ruth. “Our culture has so much busyness that this is a place where we can be simple. We still enjoy ourselves and we do things that we enjoy. But to have that simplicity of mind and simplicity of dwelling is one of the main focuses.”
Their hospitality charism is hard at work, as many youth in the diocese have reaped the benefit of their outstretched arms. From Notre Dame Academy cast parties and 70-person March for Life reunions to summer bon fires, it’s the perfect welcoming haven for young adults to come and share fellowship with each other.
“I think there’s a need for that community,” added Ruth. “When you leave college a lot of times you’re on your own. With Nazareth Home, you can either be in college or out of college or somewhere in between. It’s a place to gather, to have that support and to have that accountability in community with other Catholics your age who are striving for holiness.”
And Nazareth Home is growing. It started with two women and then grew to 10. Summers tend to be a smaller group, with the ebb and flow of the academic calendar.
Currently, there are six women living at Nazareth Home. More are expected to move in when the school year begins.
Word of mouth is essentially where the growth has come from for the Nazareth Home. There is a process by which one would become a resident.
“Not everyone is a fit for community life and we have a process in order to see if a young woman would fit with the personalities that we have in the house right now,” said Gostas. “Usually when people come here, they love it right away because of the set up. We try to set up a meeting with them outside of house environment and discuss with them the positives and negatives on both sides of the relationship.”
The vastness of the house and spaciousness in each room is one of the many features that visitors appreciate.
When it comes to adding new members to the community or implementing any change, they take it to prayer. “We don’t leave prayer out of any of our house meetings or our house decisions,” noted Ruth.
“Torey and I pray and let the Holy Spirit tell us what needs to be talked about,” she added. Prayer is truly central to the Nazareth Home and they ask that everyone who lives there, along with anyone who learns of or visits them, to pray for the mission of Nazareth Home.
The women living in Nazareth Home call themselves house sisters. Every Monday, they meet in the chapel to pray with and for their house sisters and the many intentions of family and friends. Attending house dinners is also an opportunity that helps bond them in spirit and friendship.
The presence of the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel has opened the door to a deeper sense of peace that permeates the house. They have noticed a beautiful and positive difference since welcoming the presence of the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel, which is located in the center of their home. Mass is celebrated once a month by Fr. Mark Vandersteeg, their house chaplin and pastor of St. Bernard Parish.
As with any resident group, there exist guidelines and expectations. The Nazareth Home is no different. They have a house covenant listing different guidelines. While each member of this community may be on a different path their common goal remain the same: they are striving for holiness.