[A faith-filled life and a new home…]
God in His wisdom was directing our ways. To attend Sunday services always took up the whole day as we had to drive fifteen miles to Bridgewater [they were members of St. Stephen’s Catholic Church] but our was very seldom a vacant pew. We children took private instructions except when given at a time that we could attend. In our locality we and Uncle’s were the only Catholics families for miles around and the three of us [the other two children were William and Elizabeth Naescher] were the only Catholics at school. Mother must, even now, have had a silent influence upon her little flock. We said our prayers as she had taught us. She had told or read the stories of the Bible for us and had led us on to love our religion. It must not be forgotten that the head of the house was a model Christian man [i.e., John H. Schaefers, 1841-1917] who would make every sacrifice for a good cause. I had received my First Holy Communion and on September 9, 1896, my confirmation by Bishop O’Gorman of Sioux Falls.
Two days before my Confirmation I came to Bridgewater [South Dakota] and stayed at a hotel run by a good Catholic couple whom we knew well. Whom should I find here but grandma [Josephine Naescher, her paternal grandmother] who had come for the occasion. Now, grandma had, since mother’s death, claimed first right to her son’s children and my stepfather was equally strong in asserting his right to the three of us and there was a contention between the two. It was now that our kind Pastor, Rev. P. Grabig, argued that, while papa loved us as his own, it would be for our welfare and the best all around if grandma would take us. They didn’t let me go home. I had seen home for the last time and didn’t know. it. I could never have left those dear “little ones” but to make me leave them without a kiss of “Good-by” was hard. I got homesick then and there and remained so.
Soon we were ready for the journey. We left at 1:15 P.M., crossed the state of Iowa in one continuous run and arrived at Guttenberg 2:00 in the morning. It was a bright moonlight night. We walked along talking to grandma and when all of a sudden she opened a gate and said, “This is our house.” It was a five room cottage. We expressed our satisfaction with everything and grandma was pleased.
Morning revealed a new world. Instead of the expansive prairie dotted with houses and groves and with the trains sneaking along in the distance, there were bluffs all around us while the majestic Mississippi rippled before us. The sun every day rose in the “north” and there were numerous stone houses that looked cold and hard. We went to Mass in a stone church. I didn’t like it. — The side door opened and in walked Sister Rosina. On her way to the choir she nodded to us and smiled– a sunbeam! the first Sister we had ever met face to face!