Facebook IconTwitter IconInstagram IconSpotify

Father Gene Stenzel’s rock house
— a lifelong passion to create

Associates logoSchool Sisters of Notre Dame Associates


By Associate Jan Uhlenkamp - Minnesota

Father Gene Stenzel has been a School Sister of Notre Dame (SSND) associate since 2017. SSND have always been a part of his life since he had two aunts who were sisters. It was only after he retired from active ministry that he had time to celebrate Mass several times each week at Our Lady of Good Counsel, Mankato, Minnesota. It was during his studies as a pre-associate that Father Gene realized the spirit of generosity and sacrifice that is at the roots of the congregation. Associate Jan Uhlenkamp captures the highlights of the day the sisters and associates spent with Father Gene in the article below.

 
Father Gene Stenzel's first shrine built at the age of 10.

On June 24, 2019, a group of Mankato area SSND associates and sisters traveled to Father Gene Stenzel’s family farm in Wells, Minnesota, where his Polish ancestors came to homestead in the late 1800s. As we drove through the fieldstone pillars, we were amazed at what we saw: a house, grottos with statues, a cloister-looking walkway, bell tower and many more structures, all built with fieldstone from the farmland and enhanced with flower gardens.

Father Stenzel, built his first grotto when he was 10 years old — 70 years ago! Through his creations and delightful stories, we felt his love of the land and family.

In addition to using fieldstone, Father Stenzel also creatively incorporates and recycles other materials and things that have been discarded. One interesting item was a confessional made of wood that he crafted into a beautiful display case for his home.

Father Gene Stenzel's rock house

Father Stenzel enjoys entertaining family and friends. He recently completed an outside area with a fire pit and built a sunroom onto the house for extra guests. We experienced his hospitality in his kitchen where we discovered that he not only builds, but also bakes! We enjoyed cookies that he had made with coffee and lemonade to end our day.

We felt very blessed to experience the love of family and God, hospitality and Father Gene’s creativity and many talents. It was an inspiring and fun-filled day!

There are numerous stories on the internet about Father Gene and his lifelong project. Here is a link to one video shared in 2018 on a local Minnesota news station: https://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2018/06/17/the-stone-house-finding-minnesota/

Related stories:
  • Feeding the hungry - Green Hope Gardens In 2010, during monthly associate meetings, Sisters Mariel Kreuziger and Henrita Gonia and the associates in Ohio and West Virginia reflected on what they might do to feed the hungry, bring comfort to those in need, provide nourishment for the hungry spirit and be good stewards of the land entrusted to us. Read more...
  • Beekeeping shows mercy and compassion Most people may not think of beekeeping as an act of mercy. However, if the main reason to care for bees is to help them survive in an increasingly unsafe environment made so by human action, and to refrain from exploiting them for the honey they produce, beekeeping surely represents compassion and mercy. Read more...
  • Prayer sacks In July, 2015, Associate Cecelia Helmick brought a unique idea to our monthly associate gathering in Coolville, Ohio. She told us about “The Father’s Love Letter”, which is a compilation of about 50 Scripture quotes that are put together as a “love letter” from God. These love letters take the form of prayer sacks. Read more...
 

Want to learn more?

*
*
*

School Sisters of Notre Dame

320 East Ripa Avenue

St. Louis, MO 63125

Phone: 314-561-4100

info@ssndcp.org

 

© 2022 School Sisters of Notre Dame

Donate
Events
News