In the early 1940s, Kenrick Seminary sponsored a Japanese-American family from Washington state so they wouldn’t be sent to an internment camp.
The family had a daughter the same age as Joan Glaude, who had just graduated from St. Aloysius Gonzaga School in the Hill neighborhood of south St. Louis. Glaude remembers that at a picnic in 1941 for her class, Father August Eckhoff, a parish priest, asked the students to consider working at the seminary during the summer. Glaude was the only one to raise her hand.
It was a good opportunity for her because money was tight and she could contribute to the household. She worked and lived at Kenrick for two summers.
Glaude, 91, recently talked about the Sato family from Washington, who lived in a separate building on the grounds, and other fond memories of the seminary. She spoke from her residence at the Pacific Care Center in Pacific.
“The Japanese weren’t very favored (by society) at the time,” she said, because they were suspected of remaining loyal to their ancestral land and Americans feared an invasion by Japan.
But Glaude had no problem befriending the family, especially the girl who was her age. They went to the movies together and to the Muny. Glaude kept in touch with her friend for many years after she returned with her family to Washington.
The family members assisted in the culinary department at the seminary along with Glaude, who helped the Sisters of Charity of Zams, Austria. The seminary was full of students that year, said Glaude, who also helped in the laundry room. She woke up early in the morning and attended Mass almost every day. She had a room near the chapel on the second floor.
Though she helped cook the meals, she wasn’t allowed to serve meals to the seminarians. She explained that the girls were told they were too good-looking to be with the seminarians. “And I believed it,” she said laughing.
She did get to know some of the priests who taught at the seminary, and of the women religious, Sister Goberta was one of her favorites.
The years of World War II were tough, with everyone cutting back on consumption, Glaude said.
The Sisters of Charity of Zams, established in 1826, worked in schools, orphanages and hospitals in Europe. In the United States, they took care of the domestic departments of three seminaries and staffed a home for the aged. They came to St. Joseph College in Kirkwood in 1929, according to archdiocesan records, and at the request of the archbishop accepted work at Kenrick Seminary. Initially, 13 sisters cared for the kitchen and domestic tasks. They withdrew from the archdiocese in 1964.
They lived up to their name (charity) in several ways, including regularly setting up tables and chairs outside the seminary for itinerant men who lived in the woods across from Laclede Station Road and rode on freight trains that traveled on nearby tracks.
Glaude said she and some of the sisters sometimes had their meals with the men.
The seminary included an extensive vegetable garden. “All kinds of vegetables. We had a lot of good stuff,” she said.
The sisters spoke English, though some spoke their native language, Glaude said. It had become virtually impossible for additional Sisters of Charity of Zams to come to the United States because of U.S. attitudes toward refugees from Europe. Father Joseph D. Ostermann, executive director of the Committee for Catholic Refugees from Germany, wrote in July 1939 of “a widespread public acceptance of the belief that the United States is being flooded with refugees.”
Immigration to the U.S. was restricted by quota regulations since 1921.
Glaude, a longtime parishioner of St. Joan of Arc in St. Louis, said her Catholic faith means a lot to her even today, providing her with a foundation. She lived a number of years at Our Lady of Life Apartments, a Cardinal Ritter Senior Services facility. A graduate of St. Alphonsus Liguori (Rock Church) High School, she later worked as a secretary at the Religious Information Bureau.
She met her husband, Ralph, a New York native who was stationed at Scott Air Force Base, at a dance. They were married in England when he was assigned there. They had four children.
>> Helping future generations of priests
Congregation of the Carmelite Religious, all from India, have been
serving the Kenrick-Glennon Seminary community for the last 15 years.
Carmelite sisters live in the Convent of St. Therese of Lisieux at the
seminary. Their order was founded by Mother Veronica of the Passion 150
years ago in Trivandrum, India, with a mission to educate and catechize
girls. Since then, the sisters have expanded their ministry to nursing,
social work, teaching, caring for orphans and the elderly, and, in the
case of the sisters serving in St. Louis, prayerfully supporting future
generations of priests.
According to the fall 2019 edition of the
Herald, the seminary’s magazine, the convent’s current superior, Sister
Rufina “Ruby,” was serving as a nurse in a large hospital in Delhi in
2004. The other sisters were working as teachers. “The Church needs you
in St. Louis,” was the call communicated to them through their superior
at that time.
The sisters’ main duties consist in working the
kitchen preparing meals for the community. It is estimated that they
make more than 450 meals each day.