IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. (WZMQ) – In Dickinson County, a fundraising event, now known as Fall Fest, gathered the community in support of the Carmelite nuns residing at the Monastery of the Holy Cross. This event, once called the Sisters of the Silver Tea, has evolved over the years, according to dedicated volunteers.
Christina Cerecedes, a devoted Fall Fest volunteer, explained the rationale behind the recent name change of the annual 2-day event that takes place every year during the second weekend in September. “For many, many years, I guess it’s been called the Carmelite Silver Tea. And, because of the word ‘tea’, I think it discouraged people, thinking it was an actual ‘tea’, so we kind of changed the name this year. We’re going to get a feel and see if it attracts more people. We want more family involvement.” Cerecedes informed.
She shared her enthusiasm, saying, “Absolutely the highlight is the sisters’ bread. I guess it’s been going on for 20, maybe 30 years. I sat here just as I am today last year, and I saw the line and I thought, what in the world is the line for, and they said – oh, the sisters’ bread.”
This year’s Fall Fest saw eager participants forming lines that extended all the way to the parking lot before its official opening. The main attraction was the handmade bread prepared by the Carmelite nuns.
Patty Sparapani, a long-time attendee of Fall Fest, explained why she and her family keep returning: “Well, we like to come out here every year to support the sisters. You know they’re a wonderful group, they’re so sweet. They pray for everybody in the community all the time, so we really like to come out and support them. And of course, the cinnamon bread.”
The event offered several different varieties of breads baked handmade by the Carmelite sisters, including raisin bread, cinnamon bread, and wheat bread. Other baked goods were donated by volunteers including muffins, pies, bars, and even caramel apples. Several large tents were set up on the monastery grounds, lined with tables of gift baskets for attendees to put tickets in for raffle prizes. The baskets were all donated by local residents and surrounding businesses.
For some, this event held a more personal significance. Teresa Obst, a Holocaust survivor and Poland native who now resides in Houghton, has recently undergone three major surgeries. Obst traveled nearly a hundred miles to visit the monastery during the festival, and see the nuns in person for the first time. She expressed her gratitude, saying, “Because usually it’s on the phone. But I had called them to see if I could possibly thank them in person. And I did.” Obst informed that she had been a survivor of the concentration camp in Auschwitz, Germany, as a six-year-old child.
“I am very blessed to be here after three major surgeries. My husband and I used to always come here for the July Triduum, which started on the 14th of July and ended on the 16th. We would drive each day and come back. And unfortunately, he passed away three and a half years ago. And I wound up with a lot of major health issues, so I wasn’t able to make it. But I contacted sister Helene and sister Jocinta to keep praying for me, because I was going through some very tough times,” informed Obst. She added that she had to be flown by helicopter from Houghton Hancock all the way to Duluth, Minnesota. “So I reached out to the sisters here at the Carmelite Monastery. The sisters are just phenomenal human beings,” she stated, adding that when her husband was alive, the couple frequently enjoyed visiting the chapel at the Monastery.
Obst emphasized the value of having the Carmelite sisters in the community, saying, “I don’t think we realize here in the U.P. how blessed we are to have the Carmelite sisters here in this monastery.”
Throughout the year, there is a gift shop that’s open for two hours per day, Monday through Saturday, that supports the Carmelite nuns. Generally, the gift shop is open for one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon, 8:30-9:30 a.m. CST, and 3:00-4:00 p.m. CST, except for certain Holidays. For more information about the Monastery of the Holy Cross, including contact information for the gift shop, and direct links to donate to the sisters, visit: