Unveiling of 1957 Chevy BelAir

Madonna Renewal Center – Freeport, Il – It’s here!  For several weeks we have been waiting for a special car to arrive so we can present it to everyone.  That day has arrived!

First let’s get a little background to let you know why all of us involved with the Madonna Renewal Center (MRC) are so excited about this car.  After all, a car is just a car-right?  Wrong!  This car is a vintage automobile donated to the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary so they can raffle it off.  This will mean a wonderful contribution to the restoration of the Madonna Renewal Center.  The donor wishes to remain anonymous so we respect his/her wishes and can only say “Thank you and God bless you” whoever you may be.

Now on to the description of this oh, so special, automobile.  It is a completely original 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air 4 door with approximately 79,000 miles, a V-8 with a 283 cubic inch engine and a 2 barrel carb.

To the best of our knowledge, it is one of only three such autos nationwide.

MRC 300xWe spoke with Jim Barkau, of Barkau and Sons, Freeport, Il. who is one of the many volunteers who are helping the Sisters achieve their goal of opening the Madonna Renewal Center.  Jim has many fond memories of St. Francis School for Exceptional Children (which was previously St. Francis Hospital) and is so glad to hear it will be restored and be an active part of the community once again.  St. Francis Hospital has a long history in Freeport, having been started by Father Kalvelage, one of the first priests at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church here in town.  It was established when Father cashed in his life insurance to get the necessary start up money to build the hospital in the late 1800’s.  During the many years St. Francis was active, either in the hospital or as the school for exceptional children, many residents of the city and surrounding communities were touched by its presence in one way or another.  Many have family born there, treated at the hospital, went to nursing school there, worked there, or had involvement with St. Francis in one way or another.  This project is touching the hearts of so many people and there is such excitement about seeing the building being useful to the community again instead of allowing it to deteriorate as so many buildings have done in the past.

Jim told us that St. Francis School for Exceptional Children was very dear to his heart and casually mentioned how he had helped them obtain a large van that was used to take the children for rides and out for special ice cream treats.  All of us on the MRC team are so grateful to Jim for stepping up and taking a lead role in the raffle of the 1957 Chevy BelAir.  We sincerely thank Jim and the whole Barkau and Sons team for all their help.

Tickets will be $100 each with only 500 tickets to be sold.  Hurry to grab one up!  To purchase a ticket, contact -The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary at 815-297-8287, Mary Julius at 815-238-0695, Sue Gronner at 815-541-1949,  or  Barkau and Sons in Freeport, IL at  815-232-5017.   The drawing will be held at noon on October 17, 2015 on the grounds of the Madonna Renewal Center, 1209 S. Walnut Ave., Freeport, IL.  All funds will go towards the continuing restoration of the old St. Francis Hospital/School  into the Madonna Renewal Center.

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Visit us at:   www.madonnarenewalcenter.com