Traveling thru the center of the Leelanau peninsula I came across the small town of Isadore and the beautiful brick church at the top of the Hill. The current Holy Rosary church replaced the old wooden church that held many secrets of which it never told anyone.
In the summer of 1906 Sister Janina came to the Parish to help two other nuns in the school. A year later in the summer of 1907 Sister Janina disappeared. The community gathered together to search for the missing nun but they could not find her. Some residents claimed to hear singing from a nearby swamp at night but were too scared to go and investigate. For years the mystery of her disappearance was investigated. Some believed the parish priest had a love affair with her but was out of town the night she disappeared and his alibi confirmed his innocence in her disappearance. The rectory’s housekeeper confessed to the murder under duress but was later pardoned by the governor.
Sister Janina’s body was discovered 11 years later in a shallow grave in the basement of the church. Her body was obviously moved there since it would have been found in the initial search. What happened to Sister Janina and how her body ended up in the basement of the old church is a secret the building would not tell. Her death remains a mystery and whoever knows about it kept their secret. Her body was finally laid to rest in the Cemetary next to the school where she taught so many years ago.
Sister Janina’s story has been published in a few books. A Broadway play was inspired by the tragedy and made into a movie in 1972 The Runner Stumbles starring Dick Van Dyke.
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