New Chapel Planned for Minnesota Masonic Home

Minnesota Masonic Home (MMH) fast approaches its 100th year as a pioneering care provider for aging adults, and in one place, the Home’s age is showing. That’s why MMH today announced that it will be removing its 60-year-old Order of the Eastern Star Chapel and replacing it with one that will serve well for (at least) the next 60 years.

The current chapel at MMH opened its doors in 1958 and has hosted many non-denominational services for the Home’s residents, as well as weddings and memorials. Recently, structural deterioration prompted a thorough site review to determine the efficacy of repairing the building, or the need for constructing a new one. After consulting with contractors, the Minnesota Masonic Home Board of Directors made the recommendation to move forward with a new, more efficient chapel.

“Our chapel is so essential to our continuum of care,” said Beth Schroeder, administrator for MMH. “It’s appropriate that it sits in the middle of our campus, because it serves as the spiritual center of our community here. The new chapel is so inspirational. It will be a wonderful addition.

The existing OES Chapel is 2,600 square feet and consists of a small entryway and oratory. The new, 6,000 SF chapel design, by Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc., will add amenities such as an outdoor English garden and courtyard, added parking, a preparatory room and restrooms. The old chapel’s stained glass windows will be incorporated into the new design.

“The old chapel has served us well,” said Eric J. Neetenbeek, president and CEO of Minnesota Masonic Charities, which administers the Home, “but its structural problem could not be adequately resolved. We realized we had an opportunity to revitalize this area of our campus as part of our ongoing investment in our flagship organization, Minnesota Masonic Home.”

Demolition of the existing chapel is scheduled to begin May 2019, with construction of the new chapel to being thereafter. The general contractor, Adolfson & Peterson, reports a scheduled completion date of December 2019, when the new OES Chapel will be dedicated in traditional Masonic form.

Masonic Chair Goes to Turesky

Robert Turesky, Ph.D., Professor of Medicinal Chemistry in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Minnesota, has been appointed as the Masonic Chair in Cancer Causation. The appointment was made possible through Minnesota Masonic Charities’ accelerated pledge payment made to the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota of $25 million, which will advance important research programs now underway.

Turesky’s research focuses on what happens in the body when people ingest chemicals that are formed from grilled and fried meats, or when meat is cooked over an open flame. Turesky’s research has shown that higher temperatures and longer cooking times lead to higher levels of chemicals that can, upon ingestion, react with enzymes in our bodies to become “reactive intermediates” that can damage DNA.

Dr. Turesky is the Director of the Analytical Biochemistry shared resource at the Masonic Cancer Center. He has also served on the Scientific Advisory Board of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and as Division Director of Chemistry at the National Center for Toxicological Research of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“I am thrilled to receive this appointment,” said Turesky. “Minnesota Masonic Charities has been an important source of support to my research program, for which I am most grateful.”

Long-time MMH Employee Receives Service Award

Lorys “Johnnie” Penrod Recognized for 47 Years of Exemplary Service

These days, it is hard to find a nursing home employee as dedicated as Lorys “Johnnie” Penrod. Having served in several positions during her 47-year tenure at Minnesota Masonic Home, Johnnie exemplifies dedication in the truest sense of the word.

Escorted by her son, Johnnie accepts the Care Providers of Minnesota award.

On November 12 at their annual conference, Care Providers of Minnesota named Johnnie the recipient of their Dedicated Service Award, which recognizes a provider employee whose service “over the course of his/her career has positively enhanced the quality of life for individuals in a care setting.” According to her colleagues at Minnesota Masonic Home, that describes Johnnie perfectly.

“She is an inspiration,” said Beth Schroeder, administrator of Minnesota Masonic Home. “When I ask her when she plans to retire, she tells me she needs to work three more years to make it to her 50-year employment anniversary.”

Schroeder and many other MMH staff sang Johnnie’s praises in letters to Care Providers as part of her award nomination. Their words reflect Johnnie’s consistent commitment to quality care in an industry that has seen its share of changes.

She began her storied career in early 1971, serving as the day nurse aide for three buildings on the Masonic Home campus (each shift only provided for one aide). Because there were so many demands on her time, Johnnie was instrumental in streamlining many processes at MMH; in one case, devising a magnetic tag system for the doors of the Board & Care wing that identified the care needs of each resident in case of an emergency.

“Any of us who has ever put a parent into a nursing home hopes that someone who is as compassionate as Johnnie was there when we could not be,” said then-Governor Jesse Ventura when he presented Johnnie with the Minnesota Health and Housing Alliance “1999 Caregiver of the Year” award. Ventura later presented Johnnie with the “Governor’s Award for a Better Minnesota,” adding, “Every caring word spent in these years of service has made Minnesota a better place.”

Johnnie remains a fixture at Minnesota Masonic Home, a place where she intends to work because, she says, “I believe in what we do, and I believe in the great people who work here.”

An inspiration indeed.