Knights donate $20,000 for down payment on Bethany House

By | March 29, 2012

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Larry Putzstuck, left, former Grand Knight of Knights of Columbus Council 607 in Appleton, Sr. Peggy Duemling, women’s formation director for Catholic Youth Expeditions (CYE), and Mike Bendel, Council 607 Grand Knight, stand outside of Bethany House where women missionary interns can live while discerning religious life. Council 607 donated $20,000 to CYE to help purchase the house. (By Steve Wideman | For The Compass)

Bethany House is a four-bedroom, two-story home currently leased by CYE.

“It’s a very beautiful house and convenient being right across the street from the church. It’s important that we have a house where we can pray, work and live together,” Manganiello said.

The future of Bethany House, and the challenge of meeting monthly lease payments, took a step toward stability recently when the Knights of Columbus Council 607 donated $20,000 as a down payment to allow CYE to purchase the house.

“We are deeply grateful to the Knights of Columbus. We are grateful for their donation, their prayers and for their general support,” said Sr. Peggy Duemling, who lives at Bethany House with the missionary interns and serves as formation advisor at the St. Joseph Formation Center in Baileys Harbor in Door County.

The $20,000 comes from proceeds of the sale several years ago of the Knights’ former meeting hall on North Richmond Street in Appleton.

“Catholic Youth Expeditions does such a great job,” said Larry Putzstuck, past Grand Knight of Council 607.

Putzstuck noted the foremost principal among the Knights of Columbus is charity.

“If we can be of help to the faith we will,” Putzstuck said.

Mike Bendel, Grand Knight of Council 607, said the group wants to make it as easy as possible for CYE to fulfill its mission of encouraging religious vocations.

“The Knights are great advocates for religious vocations. We support our priests and the sisterhood,” Bendel said.

The modest home in a neighborhood of unassuming and neatly kept homes surrounding the St. Pius X campus normally sleeps eight, but in the summer accommodates 15 youth who comprise the summer CYE staff.

One bedroom was converted into a chapel.

The chapel was built with approval from Bishop David L. Ricken at the request of Sr. Duemling who, from 1988 to 1998, worked with Missionaries of Charity and, for part of the time, with Missionaries of Charity founder, Blessed Mother Teresa, to serve the poor in such places as the South Bronx, Harlem and Brooklyn, N.Y.; San Francisco; Phoenix; Washington, D.C.; and Tijuana, Mexico.

“The most important thing to me is the presence of Jesus Christ with the Lord. I asked the bishop for the Blessed Sacrament (for Bethany House). The bishop prayed on it and said yes,” Sr. Duemling said. “To live in a convent under the roof of Jesus for 10 years and then not be under the roof of Jesus is very painful.”

Bishop Ricken blessed Bethany House and the chapel while at St. Pius X last January when he was in town for a pro-life Mass.

Manganiello said having the chapel “is essential for our mission because it’s so important to have God right there to form the foundation of our apostolate.”

Sr. Duemling said her time with Mother Teresa shaped her approach to guiding the missionary volunteers who stay at Bethany House with its spartan, but adequate accommodations, all donated by the community.

“Joy is found in doing God’s work,” Sr. Duemling said, who, at one point worked as Mother’s Teresa’s personal driver. “I thought Mother Teresa was the most simple, loving, full-of-God woman I ever met in my life. Living the life of a Missionaries of Charity nun, you learned to love poverty,” said Sr. Duemling, who lived in a neighbor’s basement before CYE acquired and developed Bethany House.

Manganiello said Mother Teresa’s impact on Sr. Duemling is evident “and it has definitely left a huge impression on us.”

“There is so much depth in her spirituality and even to things like keeping the house clean to a pristine level – keeping the house as a house of God and a house of Mary,” Manganiello said.

While the Knights of Columbus donation of $20,000 has set the wheels in motion for CYE to buy Bethany House, funding is still needed to eventually complete the purchase, Sr. Duemling said.

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