In the fall of 1992, an empty house on Roberts Avenue owned by Most Holy Rosary Parish was made available. The house had been lived in by Frank and Gertrude Fenton. Frank had been the custodian for Most Holy Rosary for many years. The house was in need of much repair. Starting with a loan of $20,000.00, the most critical repairs, such as a new electrical system, new plumbing, and new windows began. After these initial repairs were complete, the task of cleaning, repairing and decorating began. Volunteers from the community came forward, many from the Most Holy Rosary Parish. They were called upon to accomplish many tasks. Floors were sanded, walls repaired, painted and papered, and hours were spent decorating and furnishing the house.
What’s in a name?
Many people ask where the name Sarah House came from. Sarah House is named after the biblical Sarah. Sarah was the first woman recorded to provide hospitality. She had great patience, giving birth at a very old age. Sarah House is a dream that has taken many years to materialize. Sarah House epitomizes the many hours we wait by a sick bed. We wait for birth and for death.
The Spirit of Sarah House
Gertrude Fenton died in September 1993. She was buried the same day that Sarah House welcomed her first guests. Sarah House was not officially open at that time. It was decided to have these first guests to see how it felt and to learn what was still needed in order to provide hospitality. Shortly after Mrs. Fenton’s death, Father Ahern at Most Holy Rosary Church received the following letter from a close childhood friend of hers.
Dear Father Ahern,
Enclosed is a memorial to Gertrude Fenton. It does not begin to express my love for her. Her mother and mine were friends long before we were born, and we remained close friends throughout the years. Despite living in different cities, we shared an especially happy girlhood that has always been a joy to remember. Far flung paths kept us from seeing each other often, but when my path could cross hers we picked up as though no time had passed.
I always knew of her strength and determination and certainly she proved that to all with the accomplishments she made in her senior years. There was always so much pleasure to hear how far she had gone and to know that she had persisted, worked so hard, and overcome so much to do what she had done in earlier years. I think her greatest reward was within herself that she had been able to do all these things.
I would like her memorial to be used to help restore Sarah House. I know Gertrude’s great devotion to God and the Church and I think she would feel that what is in the planning would be a wonderful fulfillment. The need for such a caring place for those who are already worried, anxious, and perhaps frightened is often neglected and this plan has great potential. May it grow and spread seeds in other directions!
I have lost another small piece of my life – broken off and floating downstream out of sight around the bend. I know where she is and I hope to join her there.
God keep her and those who care.
~ Gertrude Jackson
This letter is the spirit of Sarah House. It is this spirit that guests feel when they describe the house as being like their grandmothers’. Sarah House is a home, a place of comfort and healing. It is a place where all are blessed, both volunteer and guest alike.