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Governor on monastery: “can’t think of a more peaceful place”
- 1 of 2Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels greets Sister Betty Drewes (far right) at the Ferdinand monastery. At left is Sister Kristine Anne Harpenau, prioress. Sister Sylvia Gehlhausen is second from right.
- 2 of 2Sister Sylvia Gehlhausen, Governor Mitch Daniels, and Sister Kristine Anne Harpenau, prioress, chat in the monastery’s Benedictine Parlor.
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels sat in the Benedictine Parlor recently at Monastery Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand, Indiana, talking about the challenges of his upcoming new job as president of Purdue University.
Sister Sylvia Gehlhausen, 88, sat nearby, listening intently. Then, flashing the grin and facial expression that has warmed so many hearts through her years as a minister of hospitality, Sister Sylvia said, “We could be your getaway place.”
Governor Daniels smiled, “I can’t think of a more peaceful place to get away to.”
It was the second time Daniels has visited the monastery during his eight-year term. The first visit came in 2008 after Sister Sylvia invited him. She remembers him saying to her, “I’ll come back,” as he left.
When the governor greeted Sisters Sylvia, Kristine Anne Harpenau, Jane Will, Betty Drewes, and Jean Marie Ballard on the monastery steps this time, Sister Sylvia said, “Oh, you did come back.” The governor replied, smiling, “I always keep my promises.”
The group then sat for about a half-hour talk inside the monastery, with topics ranging from Daniels’ memories of a Holy Land visit to his experiences as a grandfather.
Along the way, Daniels noted of the sisters, “You have many devoted friends that I bump into.”
Governor Daniels also said, “We need a lot more of the spirit you folks here promulgate.”
As the group entered the monastery church for a tour, the governor gazed about and said, “Awesome. Magnificent.”
Sister Sylvia pointed out there are 89 depictions of angels in the church, then quickly added, smiling, “not counting us.”
Governor Daniels responded, “I’m pretty sure you qualify. You come closer than anybody I know.”
Sister Sylvia mentioned after the visit that the governor said he’s told many people about the sisters’ place, and if they want to go tour anyplace, to go see the monastery.
Comments? Questions? I welcome your feedback, and ideas for stories on how the sisters touch lives. Contact Greg Eckerle at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 812-367-1411, ext. 2636.