The Contemplative Sisters of the Precious Blood

 Now Called:

Contemplative Sisters of the Indwelling Trinity

Our Lady of the Nativity Monastery

New Riegel, Ohio 44853, USA

Our Lady of the Nativity Monastery, New Riegel, Ohio, 44853, USA, was established in 1956 and now numbers seven members. This Contemplative group us a section of the Sisters of the Precious Blood, a pontifical Congregation, whose generalete is located at 4000 Denlinger Road. Dayton, Ohio 45426, USA, whose total number of members is 525.

In August of 1954 at the General Chapter the Most Reverend Archbishop ­Karl J. Alter spoke at length to the assembled delegates regarding the advisability of establishing a cloistered house within the Congregation. Having re­ceived the Archbishop's words of encouragement for the project, the delegates voted almost unanimously in favor or such a contemplative branch. For over twenty years prior to the Chapter's vote of approval, Sister Mary Florecita Bidart had carried on the work of preparation for such a house within the Congregation, in the face of numerous trials, obstacles, frustrations and misunderstandings.   

In December of 1954 permission was granted by the Most Reverend Bishop George J. Rehring to establish the Cloistered branch within the Diocese of Toledo at New Riegel, Ohio. The New Riegel Convent was selected for the Contemplative branch house because the convent was situated in a secluded county site far removed from the noise of city life.

The New Riegel Convent, formerly the Motherhouse of the Congregation, was in an extremely dilapidated condition and condemned by the Bishop as living quarters for the Sisters when the Mother General of the Congregation, Mother Mary Aquinas, told Sister Florecita that she could have the building for the Contemplative group provided she would be able to remodel the convent and assume the responsibility for expenses incurred. After consulting a structural engineer who confirmed that the building was structurally sound, the remodeling was begun. In addition to her full time job as a teacher, Sister Florecita had to solicit the necessary donations for remodeling, which she did with the support and approval of the Most Reverend Archbishop Paul F. Leibold of Cincinnati, Ohio. Much hard work and many solicitations went into preparing the building. All of this was done without help, financial or otherwise, from the Congregation.   

By June of 1956 the Cloister section of the building was ready for occupancy. Sister M. 'Florecita and Sister M. Leo (Mary Louise) Voisard began living the Cloistered life on August 22, 1957, but It was not until July 1, 1957 that the Cloister was solemnly and formally enclosed by Bishop Rehring. Within a year the two Sisters received a third member, Sister Mary Ephrem (Mildred Marie) Neuzil.  

In 1960 canonical approval of the Cloistered Branch was procured and by April 1. 1965, canonical approval of the Constitutions for that way of life was obtained from the Holy See. In September of 1965 the Holy See granted its permission to erect a novitiate within the Cloister, thus broadening the possible base of its membership to include interested women from outside the active Congregation who felt called to live the contemplative way of life.

In September, 1965, Sister Joseph Therese Fuller became the fourth mem­ber of the Cloistered group, and in February or 1967, two more members, Sisters Virginia Manss and Mildred Elaine Decker, were admitted. Sister Shirley (Miriam Joseph) Wishoski transferred from the active Congregation over to the Contemplative section in July of 1969. In December of 1977, Miss Janet Wieging, a thirty-four year old lay woman, had been accepted as candidate for the Contemplative branch.

From the very beginning the Sisters have endeavored to support themselves in their way of life. Through owning and operating a print shop they suc­ceeded in becoming entirely self-supporting.

The Sisters' way of life, as a ministry of prayer, is centered around their daily common celebration of the sacred liturgy of the Eucharist and the liturgy of the hours. Each day the Sisters are provided with at least two hours for mental prayer and one half hour for spiritual reading. These periods of prayer throughout the day along with the spirit of silence, solitude and charity that pervades their life together, have fostered their growth in the life of the Spirit down through the years since their foundation.

The year before Mother Aquinas came into office, Mother Nathalia had quietly remodeled part of the second floor of the old convent at Maria Stein for a clois­ter.  In the event that she was not re-elected, she planned to start a cloister there.

There was a lot of campaigning that year around the mother house especially, as to whom should be put into office. People were taking sides - some in Mother Nathalia's camp, some in Mother Aquinas' camp and others in other nominees' camps. Months before the actual election Sister Florecita was pretty certain that Mother Aquinas would be elected so she decided she would approach her and reveal to her her plans for beginning a cloister within the Community in order to see how she felt about it. Mother Aquinas was quite favorably impressed with the idea and with the draft of the proposed statutes that Sister Florecita showed her. She said she wou1d back having such a cloister within the Congregation 100% of the way.

Sister Florecita had been working on this project for many years prior to this.

One summer while she was at the mother house, Archbishop McNicholas happened to be there for a few days and she approached him while he was in chapel praying and asked if she could speak with him. Through Father Roy who "Was chaplain at the mother house, a meeting was arranged in the chaplain's quarters and Sister Florecita told the Archbishop of her plan for  having a cloistered branch in the Congregation. The Archbishop gave his support for such a project. Sister Florecita met Mother Magna as she left the chaplain's quarters and promptly received a bawling out for having the meeting. Another time later, when Sister Florecita was stationed at St. Margaret Mary in College Hill, Archbishop McNicholas, feel that a letter might not reach its destination unopened, had Monsignor Markham deliver a message concerning the cloister orally to Sister. The Sisters at the convent misunderstood the monsignor’s visit to the convent to see only Sister Florecita – that she was complaining about them and this made it difficult for her with the Sisters for the rest of her time there (she was not free yet to explain her work on the cloister.)

Another person who was of great help with the beg1nning stages of the cloister was Bishop Marling.  Just one day after he was made a bishop, being in Cartheg, be visited the Sisters in Celina. Sister Florecita was there at the time, and this was the first opportunity that she and the bishop had to meet each other. Previously when Sister Florecita had spoken to Father Roy about the cloister, Father Boy had recommended that Sister consult with Father Marling for assistance from him.  At that time no contact was made, but the day after Father Marling became Bishop Marling there many occasions from then on that allowed for consultation with him. And as a bishop, Bishop Marllng was in a position to be of considerable help.

When Bishop Marling was the auxiliary bishop of Kansas City and Sister Flore was stationed in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the bishop called Sister Wilhemina, the superior of the Fort Wayne convent, to let her know that he was coming to speak with Sister Florec1ta. When he arrived at the Fort Wayne convent be found, much to his surprise, that all of the Sisters were assembled around the table to greet him and not just Sister Florecita as he had expected. He gave the Sisters a short talk, one and all, and then asked if he could see Sister Florecita alone for a few minutes.

Several times when Sister Florecita was at St. Mary's in Dayton, Ohio, directing the Catholic Information Center, Bishop Marling would stop in to talk and give Sister advise.

Sister Florecita had attempted to get the proposal for a cloister put on the agenda of three previous Chapters of the Congregation (over a span of eighteen years) prior to the one in which Mother Aquinas was elected, all to no avail, as the press of other business pushed the proposal off of the Agenda. Finally, at the Chapter at which Mother Aquinas was elected, an appeal was made to Bishop Liebold (who also strongly supported the project) as to what should be done. He suggested writing a letter to Archbishop Karl Alter (which he composed for Sister Florecita) asking the Archbishop to personally address the assembled delegates and encourage the establishment of such a cloister within the Congregation. The Archbishop consented and, after hearing his words of encouragement, the delegates voted almost unanimously in favor of the project.

Now another complication arose. Since Mother Nathalia had not been re-elected to office, she planned to Immediately start her cloister at Maria Stein.  Sister Florecita, while not having any direct knowledge of Mother Nathala's immediate plans, did know of Mother's interest in beginning a cloister. Previously, when Mother Nathalia was at the mother house as novice mistress, she and Sister Florecita had spoken together about each of their interests in this project. Each had a draft of their proposed statutes. Mother Nathalia had visited the cloisters over in Europe and had modeled her ideas of a cloister on what she had seen there. During the year that Mather Nathalia was remodeling the second floor of the convent at Marta Stein into a cloister, Sister Florecita, who was at the Information Center in Dayton, got a group of women together and went up to Marla Stein on a pilgrimage •. This gave her the opportunity to see first hand what was being done there.

After the election of Mother Aquinas, Sister Florecita had the strong feeling that Mother Nathalia might try to start her cloister soon. She was still stationed at St. Mary's, Dayton at this time, and twice she came to the mother house to speak with the newly elected officials to see where things stood regarding the cloister. The officia1s were aware of Mother Nathalia's attempt to start a cloister of her own but they didn't want to take any action uf their own to prevent her from doing this. After her second visit to the mother house, Sister Florecita happened to get a ride back to St. Mary's from Sisterr Marcellian Walten. Sister Marcellian, having been a delegate at the Chapter, knew of Sister Florecita's wish to begin a cloister, and she asked her if she weren't pleased with the dele­gate’s decision. Sister Florecita said :yes, but then she told her that she feared that Mother Nathalia was going to try to start it immediately.  Sister Marcellian told her that she would take care of that.  Sister Marcellian was stationed in Cincinnati at this time, and she Immediately went to the chancery and informed Bishop Liebold of the recent events. Bishop Liebold responded by immediately calling up Mother Aquinas on the phone and telling her that the cloister was not to be started without an adequate amount of time for its preparation. Mother Aquinas had in her hand right at that moment, all obedience that she was on her way to give to Sister Ephrem telling her to go to Maria Stein and join Mother Nathalia and Sister Miriam in the cloister.

Having received this "order" from the chancery, Mother Aquinas then approached Mother Nathalia and told· her that she wasn't to start the cloister right away but that the chancery had informed her that this was to be done slowly. Mother Natha1ia replied that she didn't have to listen to the chancery’s order.  In effect, she ignored it, and carried on with her own plans - but without Sister Ephrem. She got Sister Miriam to join her and both of them went to Marta Stein to begin their cloistered life. Their quarters consisted of a few bedrooms. a small dining room, a small outside balcony, and the second floor balcony in chapel. Their prayer schedule included making a couple of night hours each night before the Blessed Sacrament. This whole thing didn't last long. Sister Miriam discovered she didn't have a calling to that way of  life.  In a very short time, and Mother Nathalia stayed only a little while longer as Archbishop Alter didn't consider it a suitable place for a cloister because of the cramped living quarters.

In the meantime Mother Aquinas was looking around the Community for a suit­able place to start the cloister. Minster was first considered but then rejected as not being adequate. Mother Aquinas then considered New Riegel. (Marta Stein had already been rejected as a possibility.) She had Sister Florecita come to New Riegel to see the old run down convent that had been condemned as living qua:rte1 by the Bishop, and told her that, if she would be responsible for remodeling the place and paying for all of the expensive of remodeling, that she could have this building for the cloister.  Sister Florecita agreed. Sister Florecita was still living in St. Mary's parish convent, and working at the Catholic Information Center in Dayton. She solicited a large amount of her donations for the remodeling from the Dayton area, and with the approval and support of Bishop Liebold.

Before beginning any remodeling work on the building, she checked out with a structural engineer from Cleveland the soundness of the structure to see if it would be worth remodeling. He judged the building to be "structurally sound" and then work was begun, Sister Florecita,  through the Magors Lumber Company in Tiffin, got the name of a "reputable" contractor, Mr. Robert Weller, to do the work of remodeling. Sister Florec1ta had had no previous experience in how to go about accomplishing this task of remodeling, except for some work she had directed at the Information Center, but that remodeling was on a much smaller scale. Nevertheless, she found herself taking the contractor around the building at New Riegel and pointing out to him the needed areas of repair. The building was in an extremely dilapidated state. All of the outside wooden porches and entrances had to be removed and replaced. A two car garage had to be built and small sheds and buildings removed or taken down. Two side altars in the main chapel had to be taken down and the dome over the main altar was to be lowered. All the old linoleum had to be replaced on the floors, some outside doorways had to be closed up. Old rickety cupboards were to be removed from the hallways and new cupboards built in the individual bedrooms. Inside stairways had to be constructed. The contractor's estimate for the remode1 came to about $25.000. 00. Sister Florecita had Mother Aquinas sign the contract, so that in the event someth1ng would happen to herself, the Congregation would assume payment for the project. The actual cost came closer to $50,000 when the' remodeling was completed, as many other things that needed repair were noticed as the work went along. Sister Florecita was able to take ·care of the payment for all of this without any help from the Congregation. She also got all of the paint for all the rooms for the entire entire convent donated and delivered from the Lowe Paint Company in Dayton. She and some of the high school girls did of the cleaning up work involved with the remodeling.

When first beginning the remodeling, Mother Aquinas told the superior at St. Mary's, Sister Hildergarde that she was not to tell the other sisters at the convent what Sister Florecita was doing. This caused difficulties as Sister Florecita would come up to New Riegel about once a month to check on bow the remodeling work was progressing. Finally, Sister Hildergarde disregarded the restriction and informed the sisters.

Mother Aquinas asked Sister Florecita if she wouldn't like to live up at New Riegel the next year and teach in the school and that \way she would be right there to see how the remodeling was progressing. Sister Florecita said yes if she could teach the eighth grade since she was accustomed to teaching this grade and it would make it a little easier for her to carry on with this responsibility along with the remodeling project. This created a controversy on the New Riegel school board. A Sister had never taught the eighth grade before and they didn't know if they would be capable of doing so. After seeing Sister’s cre­dentials, they decided to take the risk and give it a try.  Because of the number of her credits, Sister Florecita was given the same salary as that of the two principals. This money was not used for the cloister project, however; it was sent into the treasury at the mother house in Dayton.

When not teaching or soliciting for donations, Sister Florecita would be working in the cloister section of the convent with some helpers from the high school. One afternoon while carrying out she fell down the back stairwell – one of the newly replaced steps was not the same size as the others - and lay unconscious there until one of the high school girls found her and went for help.  She was taken to the hospital and remained unconscious until about nine that evening. Her arm was broken in two places and she had received multiple bruises on her face from the fall. After a short time, however, she was back to her job of teaching, and back to her work with the remodeling, even though her arm had to remain in a cast for a couple of months.

During the year from January 1955 to January 1956, Sister Florecita raised close to $38,500 in donations for the cloister project. These funds went toward paying for the work of remodeling and for buying necessary household articles.

Towards the end of the year, Sister Florecita went to Kastle Electric Company in Dayton and ordered several of that year's appliances - a refrigerator, deep freeze, double oven range, washer and drier, etc. - coming to a total of $1, 262.93. She told the manager to have all of these appliances ready to deliver by January and, although she didn’t have a penny to pay for these things at the time, by January she would have the necessary funds.

A couple of weeks before she needed the money, Sister Florecita asked Della Gess if she would lend her the money for these articles. Della agreed and Sister was able to pay for the appliances.  Sister Florecita then solicited Della's help in raising the donations that would be used to pay Della back. Della was a hard worker at raising the donations.

Sister Florecita also went to Elder-Johnson in Dayton and ordered all or the beds and some other items for the cloister. She received the help of the Pfiaum family; publishers of the Catholic Messenger, to pay for all of this. She asked Elder-Johnson's if they would be responsible for delivering not only all of the items she had ordered at their store up to New Riegel in January, but also all the items she bad bought at Kastle's. They complied with her wishes and delivered all of these up to New Riegel on one snowy January days. 

Sister Florecita also had the Lowe Paint Company of Dayton donate and deliver all of the paint that would be needed for the entire convent. She bought monk's cloth from a firm in Richmond, Indiana that would be used for the drapes for the windows. With the help of one  other woman she made all of the drapes for the windows.

By the end of 1957, the remodeling work was all completed and Mr. Weller, the contractor had been paid in full. Sister Florecita and Mary Leo were going to London, Canada to visit the Sisters of the Precious Blood, and before they left to visit this cloister, they made the last payment on the remodeling debt.

Two years later, however, Sister Florecita received a bill through the mall from Mr. Weller for $10,000.00. - yet to be paid on the work he had done.  Dismayed by this, Sister 'Florecita told her predicament to Father Dobmeyer, who was the confessor Father at the time.  Father Dobmeyer said be was in the same predicament as she was. He had Mr. Weller to paint his church and, after having paid him in full, two years later he received another bill for $5,000 .00. 

Sister Florecita hired Mr. Flynn as a lawyer to handle this and after informed Mr. Weller she had done so, Mr. Weller turned around and hired two lawyers of his own.  A meeting was arranged between the three lawyers, Mr. Weller, Sister Florecita, and Mother Aquinas. It turned out that Sister Florecita had all of her written records, cancelled checks, etc., to show at the meeting, while Mr. Weller had kept no records at all. He was in a bad financial condition, had deliberately not kept records, and avoided paying his income taxes. It was a pattern of his to bill his customers twice, hoping that during an interlude -of a couple of years they would forget they had paid or not he able to prove it.  The lawyers battled hack and forth for a while, both sides speaking pretty strongly. It was clear to most in the room that Mr. Flynn and Sister Florecita had won the argument with evidence.

.. ~





Having attempted to live a monastic, contemplative way of life within the Congregation of the Sisters of the Precious Blood fore twenty-one years, the Contemplative Sisters have found it progressively more difficult to live out their way of life from within the framework of policies and norms intended for the active Congregation. They realize the need for complete independence in the decision-making areas such as government, finances, formal membership and administration, if they are to continue to live out their vow to a contemplative way of life. 

Some of the following difficulties are the basis for their petition for Com­plete separation from the Congregation.

- Lack of a basic understanding of the nature of a contemplative way of life on the part of the larger Congregation. This has been the source of many misunderstanding and a general lack of support for a contemplative branch by the active Congregation from the beginning. 

- Lack of freedom and responsibility to live out a contemplative way of life from within the Congregation in the manner that members of the contemplative branch deem most suitable for its realization. 

- Disregard of the approved Statues and Principles of the contemplative branch by the authorities of the main body of the Congregation in their process of carrying out the policies and norms intended for the entire Congregation. 

- Difficulties over membership:  discouragement of membership for the contemplative branch through the course of several administrations … e. g. diverting interested and qualified Sisters elsewhere, placing non-qualified Sisters in the cloister without prior consultation with the contemplative Sisters. 

- Long standing difficulties over formation: disregard by the authority in the larger Congregation of the contemplative group’s canonically established novitiate; and insistence by authorities on having members who join the contemplative branch from outside the Congregation receive their formation within the active part of the Congregation.

- Long standing difficulties over finances and administration: The Congregation requires of its contemplative branch the same financial and administrative obligations as it does of its other institutions and houses without due regard for its distinctive nature and purpose, sighting several instances in its pressure upon the contemplative group in financial and administrative matters. 

- Immediate difficulties: an attempt by the President and her Council to implement decisions made by them which would radically alter the nature and purpose of the contemplative house.  Those decisions were supposedly derived from information gathered from a canonical visitation conducted by two Sisters from the Congregation at the contemplative house in November, 1977.  Such decisions could not have been derived from the information they gathered.



This contemplative section of Sisters occupies a building, originally dilapidated, which they had renovated, then built a sufficiently large addition to, all financed by the work and efforts of the Contemplative Sisters themselves.  They also have a very impressive printing plant in this same house, all financed in the same way.  Canonically and civilly all of the above belong to the Congregation of the Sisters of the Precious Blood.  If given to the Contemplative Sisters in the event of a separation, they would have a suitable residence and sufficient means for their own support.  The Contemplative Sisters are now in the process of negotiating with the larger Congregation for the procurement of the building.


Contemplative Sisters of the Precious Blood

Our Lady of the Nativity Monastery

New Riegel, Ohio 44853

Phone 419-595-2303


of Cover Letter

to be sent to Father Hiser  

Dear Father Hiser:

It is our understanding that Father Joseph Gallen, S.J., has already informed you that you would possibly be receiving this petition for separation and request for beginning a new religious institute.  Along with our petition and request we enclose the following related materials:

- A Brief History of the Contemplative Sisters of the Precious Blood

- Reasons for separation from the Congregation

- A Brief Synopsis of each member of the Contemplative group  

- A Statement of the financial postion of the Contemplative group 

- Past and present "statutes" and “Principles of Contemplative living”

- Copies of more detailed histories of the Contemplative Sisters of the Precious Blood

- Letters of Recommendation

- A copy of the letter of petition for separation submitted to the President of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Precious Blood of December 12, 1977

Besides submitting these materials for your consideration, we will gladly supply any other pertinent information that you would request. 

Respectfully Yours,



Contemplative Sisters of the Precious Blood

Our Lady of the Nativity Monastery

New Riegel, Ohio 44853

Phone 419-595-2303

January 5, 1918

Sister Charmaine Grilliot


4000 Denlinger Road;

Dayton, Ohio

Dear Sister Charmaine and Members of the Counci1

We received your letter of December 23 wherein you informed us of your meeting with Father Donald Heintachel concerning the matter of our request for separation from the Congregation and a1so wherein you informed us that the Community Counci1 will formulate some kind of re­sponse to our request at their regular meeting the week of January 28.

Since submitting our request for separation on December 13, we have consulted various authorities in order to become more fully informed as to what our separation entails. 

From our past experiences of trying to live a contemplative way of life within the Congregation and from the prayer and discernment of each one of the seven members of our group, we have come as a community to this firm resolution for separation from the Congregation in order that we may obtain the complete autonomy that contemplatives consider so essential to their way of life. 

In our continued attempt to deal with you openly and honestly about this matter, we wish to convey to you that we do not see further negotiation for a greater autonomy within the Congregation as being a viable alternative to the total separation we propose.  It is our determination that the time in our history has come for complete break from the Congregation and that, in and through all the circumstances and events which surround our lives, it is the Spirit who moves us in this direction. 

We ask for your continued co-operation in all that concerns this matter and we pray that the Spirit will guide each one of you in all of your deliberations. 


Signed by the seven sisters

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Contemplative Sisters of the Precious Blood

Our Lady of the Nativity Monastery

New Riegel, Ohio 44853

Phone 419-595-2303

March 1, 1978


Most Rev. Richard B. Ackerman, C. S. Sp.

1140 Madison Avenue

 Covington, Kentucky 

Dear Bishop Ackerman:

A little over two months have passed since four of our Sisters met with you and discussed our decision to separate from the Sisters of the Precious Blood and to begin anew as an independent contemplative monastery.  At the time of our meeting with you, you will remember, we were still await­ing the response of Sister Charmaine and her Council to our petition for separation from the Congregation. Towards the end of January the Community Council met to consider our petition and, in the first part of February, we were informed that the Council had decided to honor it and to send it on to the Sacred Congregation for Religious in Rome.  The following notice was placed in our Congregation’s Council Notes, a publication issued to all the Sisters within our Congregation:

Contemplative Community,  The Contemplative Sisters at New Riegel have requested separation from the Congregation of the Sisters of the Precious Blood.  The Sisters give two reasons: 1) they continue to experience difficulty living the contemplative live within an active congregation.  2) they need greater independence in decision making areas such as government,  finances, fornation, administration, membership. The Community Council has informed the local Ordinaries of Cincinnati and Toledo of the request.  The Community Council accepted the Sisters’ request and is sending it to the Sacred Congregation for Religious in Rome.

Within the past few weeks, we have been advised to work on putting to­gether some background materials concerning our contemplative group, its origin and development, for the purpose of submitting this to the Sacred Congregation.  Likewise, we have been advised to start working on a new constitution for our way of life which must be submitted to Rome upon its completion. 

Now that the separation process is initiated, one of the more immediate factors that comes into consideration for us is that of location.   If at all possible, we would like to remain at our present location within the diocese of Toledo.  In the event, however, that this is not possible, we would then be in need of knowing a bishop who would be willing to receive us into his diocese. 

During the course of our meeting last December, you mentioned that you could suggest to us the names of some bishops who, you thought, would be willing to accept a contemplative community such as ours within their diocese.  We would greatly appreciate it, if you would now send such a list of suggested names to us in this return envelope that is enclosed.

We recall with gratitude the gracious way you received us this past December.  You placed a ray of hope into our lives at that time.  We shall continue to remember you in a special way befor the Lord in prayer.


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The Contemplative Sisters of the Precious Blood