Two Newborn Baby Boys Have Come To Philomena House!

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Dear Friend of Philomena House,
Born on June 29, 2014, little Nabeel came to us at 5 pounds, 13 ounces. He made his home here with his mother. Nabeel fixes his eyes on her face whenever she holds him, which is all the time. Our first baby!


Then on July 29, our second baby boy came, little Kingston, weighing 6 pounds, 14 ounces. He’s now here at Philomena House with his mother. Everyone wants to hold both guys. We thank you for the support you gave that helped bring these little boys safely into our arms. Please continue.

Right now, we house four guest residents, our optimal capacity, and have begun our educational program intended get them ready for independent living. A host of volunteers have come to training sessions over the last two months to acquaint themselves with the operations of our home and our program so they can help. We are amazed at the talent and the unselfishness of these wonderful people.

With a full house, we can use more volunteer help. Especially a mentor for each resident! Katie Sampair, our volunteer coordinator (651-726-4134), says we need help cleaning, gardening, a little painting and donating to our “Meal Train for Philomena House” you’ll find on Facebook.

Open House, May 25, 2014 – the Franciscans come

More than one hundred people attended our afternoon Open House on Sunday, May 25, a feast of Saint Philomena. The lively crowd included local police and several clergy who came “to see,” and to enjoy cake and punch.

Fourteen Sisters of Saint Francis of Little Falls, Minnesota arrived. Their group had lived in the large Victorian home, until recently their convent, when our benefactor bought it from them and renovated it for us. They were astonished at the renovation, especially the kitchen, and the beautiful donated furnishings. Geralyn, our founder and board chairman, gave them each a rose. Their photos appear in this letter.

Thank you for your generosity

Volunteers have also fully furnished Philomena House with donated, nearly new, clean and attractive upholstery, lamps, tables, chairs and pictures for the walls. All of it matches! Housemother Sharon King pulled it together, making the home look professionally done. She has also planted a garden full of fresh vegetables and varieties of lettuce.

Our current fund raising efforts, including a van

Yard Sale in Saint Paul. Mary Henseler, the woman who donated to us our relic of Saint Philomena, held a “first class” yard sale July11 and July 12, 2014 at her Mississippi River Boulevard home. The sale netted $1,500.
“All That Jazz” Dance Party is being staged by St. Gabriel, the Archangel, Catholic Church, Hopkins, Minnesota. Friday, August 15, 2014. All proceeds go exclusively to Philomena House.
We want to buy or rent a van to serve all the local travel needs of Philomena House residents. To start funding that project, we have sent a proposal to the State of Minnesota Open Your Heart Fund.
If you would like to hold a fundraising event for us, let us know.

Three new Philomena House board members

We’ve elected three board members. All are already highly active in these very busy, early stages of Philomena House development.
Mary Henseler– Mary and her husband moved to Minnesota from Wisconsin in 2003. They have four children. Mary runs her own business making and selling religious jewelry. It was Mary who happened upon the St. Philomena relic and gave it to Bernie at a Deanery meeting. Mary has her degree in fine arts and possesses great organizational skills. She believes Philomena House gives women a real choice.

Karen McCann – “I am the mother of two wonderful girls, ages 10 and 13. My husband and I just celebrated 22 years of marriage. I speak Spanish, love babies and interacting with youth. I desire to encourage these young women of Philomena House to appreciate and enjoy the beautiful gift of life that God has given them. I wish to help in whatever way I can to assist these women in gaining the confidence and skills they need to make happy lives for themselves and their babies.”

Katie Sampair– “I am a mother of five children, ages 6, 5, 3 and 11-month old twin boys. I have been married eight years. And I am a registered nurse, employed on a casual basis with HealthEast Home Care. When I heard about Philomena House, I knew I had to become involved. I am amazed each day by God’s love for me and by the grace he pours down on me! When I was contemplating taking on the “volunteer coordinator” role, I couldn’t think of a good reason not to! I love to bake, run, read and hold babies!”
Father Wolnik came with a special blessing and dedication

Father Wolnik came with a special blessing and dedication

On Sunday morning, June 30, 2014, Father James Wolnik, Philomena House board member, came to dedicate our house to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Several board members were present. We await more blessings from God and thank Father for his devotion to our efforts.

Get credit from the IRS for your contributions to us

Many of our friends who came on Open House Sunday on May 25, and some later, left us donations of cash and furnishings. We thank you. And we apologize that in all of the activity, we may have forgotten to give you a Form 1040, which entitles you to a tax deduction from the IRS.
If we have left you out, we didn’t intend to, so if you want a 1040, please call and ask us for one and we’ll send it to you. Call Joyce at 651-488-9652. For more information, see www.irs.org.

Please continue to remember us in your charity

Your generosity has helped make a home for two newborn baby boys, who otherwise might not have made it into this world. We could not have anticipated the joy they have brought us. Nor the sight of the love of their brave mothers. After five years of hard work, we have seen God’s overflowing providence in so many unexpected ways.

We ask for your continued support. Remember, Philomena House is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, so your contributions are tax-free.

Joyce Nevins, Co-director (651) 488-9652


Yes, your prayers and ours have been answered!

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We’ve just been given a beautiful house in Saint Paul for homeless, expectant women!

These amazing events began in November 2013, all of which we attribute to Divine Providence, your ongoing support and the wonderful benefactor who bought us a house. Here’s what happened. We were ready to interview prospective guests, homeless, pregnant women. We had even chosen an ideal house, a former Franciscan convent, perfectly maintained, with six bedrooms. But we had no way to make it ours! Our board and friends made a holy hour at church. The next     day, we heard from a private benefactor who said, “I am  buying that property you found for Philomena House.” A few days later, we accepted our benefactor’s purchase offer. What’s more, our contact at Positive Alternatives, Minnesota Department of Health, called to say, ”We found some money for Philomena, provided that you have a house.” We had the house. We’ve also been given monetary gifts from the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Community Foundation. These gifts, along with your sustaining cash donations, gave us the impetus to move in.

Immediately after Christmas, our benefactor installed a new kitchen, renovated the downstairs bath and polished the oak floors. All his ideas to give us contentment and delight. A battalion of volunteers is cleaning four floors, and people are donating furniture and utensils. We’ve set our Open House for Sunday, May 25, 2014, feast of the finding of St. Philomena’s bones in Rome’s St. Priscilla Catacombs.

Moving day was March 22. People gave us beautiful furnishings, barely used, matching upholstery pieces for our first floor rooms. Our board member, Duane Sanocki donated a refinished cherry wood desk for our first floor office. Sharon King, our housemother, is thrilled with all donated kitchen utensils. And more to come from kitchen and outdoor tools showers. Rene Miller and her quilting group from Holy Spirit Church in St. Paul gave us eight baby quilts. Students from St. Thomas Academy and friends did the heavy lifting. Then they sat down to a chili lunch at our newly refinished, cherry dining table (the chairs don’t match!). The movers were Sue and Jim Evanoff’s three sons, Dan, Michael and Joe, along with their four friends, Dan Gehrz, Tony Nebe, Adam Farrell and Sam Hummel.

Thanks and God bless you all!


Surprise! Saint Philomena has come to our house!

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We’re writing you to report a real and remarkable event in the making of Philomena House.  Recently a woman gifted us with an actual relic of our little martyred saint.

The relic itself is a tiny dark speck on a piece of white cloth inside a round silver case that we placed in a gold metal reliquary about four inches high.  Inside the silver case is a paper tag bearing these words: Philomenae V. M. (Philomena Virgin Martyr). The case is sealed with wax embedded with the Vatican seal. Although we have no papers, the packaging seems to indicate that it is a first-class relic.

Our benefactor is Mary Henseler, a local artist who creates religious jewelry from antique finds. Mary tells us that she rarely sees relics, so she wanted to own this one. After she had held the relic for several months, she learned about Philomena House at a deanery meeting where Bernie spoke. She thought immediately that the Philomena relic should belong to us.  So she publicly presented it to Bernie in May at the Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women.  That event is how we came to be owners of this precious gift, which we truly believe to be the working of Saint Philomena.  We think she has carried us to a turning point in our search for a residence we can call home. (We hope we can tell you more in our next newsletter.)

Thank you all for your generous gifts!  Remember, Philomena House is a federal tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organization.  With your tax-free contributions, you save babies’ lives from the horror of abortion. You also ensure the well being of their desperate mothers.

P.S.    Find (and “Like”) Mary Henseler on Facebook, at “She Sells Sanctuary.”
P.P.S. We are available to speak to your group about our work.


Getting Closer!

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Your prayers for us are being answered and your donations demonstrating your support as we approach local foundations. (If our constituency contributes generously, foundations are that much more willing to give.) Our board of directors’ efforts are being rewarded as well––at astonishing speed. Now, several foundations and individuals have brought us closer to the opening day of a residence for homeless, pregnant women. Very much closer. (Please watch for specifics in our next newsletter.) We also thank you as we anticipate the first babies to be born to the first group of young mothers to live in Philomena House.


Dear Friend of Philomena House:

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Someone will soon donate the house we’ll name “Philomena House”, our proposed shelter for homeless, pregnant young women to be located in the Saint Paul, Roseville area.

You may personally know that person, or you know someone who does. If so, please let us know. The four (or-more) bedroom place we need should be ready to open soon.

A daring, but attainable goal



In our April 2012 newsletter

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We told you that we were beginning to seek grants from among Minnesota foundations. We’ve done that and made friends with several that support efforts such as Philomena House but our grant proposal have not been accepted so far.


We continue to submit proposals…and hope. (Keep in mind that there are 9,000 nonprofit organizations in the state, so competition for monies is daunting.)


What have we learned so far? Foundations prefer their existing recipients for ongoing support. Philomena House is perceived as a start-up, therefore as having an uncertain future. And, we need a house with client-residents in place to prove our feasibility.


So far, we have found several candidates for housemother, trained volunteers ready to begin mentoring, a stalwart board of directors, and paperwork such as intake forms ready to go. God knows we are ready to start. We await his all-knowing providence and the amazing succor of St. Philomena.


Imagine a four or five-bedroom house in the Roseville or Como Park area to

shelter, for as long as a year, girls and women, homeless and pregnant, without supporting friends or family. A kitchen where they cook and set the table every day…a warm furnace in winter…baby cribs and highchairs…and the ever-ready guidance of experienced mentors to help these mothers toward self-sufficiency.
Our earnest prayer is a donated house. Many similar women’s shelters across the country have started because someone gave them a house…gratis. With a donated house, we can make ourselves more attractive to foundations and set ourselves up for continuing support as others have done. If you know of any situation that may serve us well, please call Bernie or Joyce at either number below.


We thank you for your support, interest in our cause and your contributions in the past.

Remember, Philomena House is a federal tax-exempt, 501 © (3) organization. With your contributions, you save the lives of babies from abortion and help ensure the lifelong well being of their desperate mothers. Please send your gift in the enclosed, self-addressed envelope.




Joyce Nevins, Co-director (651) 488-0652



P.S. Your prayers have brought us many favors. Please continue to pray for us.











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Check back here often to follow our progress towards opening the Philomena House. We’ll keep you posted on all of our events, challenges and successes. Thanks and God bless you!