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Why did 58 nuns make a trip to the Whippy Dip ice cream stand in rural Michigan?

For some people, a refreshing ice cream treat on a scorching summer day is like a taste of heaven. All the more so perhaps if it’s in the company of dozens of joyful Catholic nuns.

On Aug. 16, Merrill Dairy Bar —  affectionately known as the Merrill Whippy Dip — in Merrill, Michigan, had the pleasure of hosting 58 members of the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan. The sisters were celebrating a postulant member’s profession of vows for religious life with Bishop Robert D. Gruss of Saginaw, near Lake Huron. To commemorate the solemn event, the sisters decided to make a stop in Merrill, a rural village ringed by verdant fields of sugar beets, corn, and soybeans, on their way home to Alma.

Carolyn Knapp, 74, who has worked the Whippy Dip counter for an impressive 31 years, told CNA  in an interview that at about 5:30 p.m. that day, a gentleman showed up with about five people. “They were not dressed like nuns, but may have been workers, I’m not sure,” she said. “He paid for them and said, ‘I’ll have you know that a group of nuns will be coming, and I want to pay for all of them, too.’”

The nuns, returning from Saginaw’s Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption where Sister Mary Agnes Graves professed her perpetual vows, arrived at Whippy Dip dressed in their distinctive veils and habits. This was not the first visit they had visited the popular ice cream stand, but it was the largest gathering of the sisters that Knapp has ever seen there.

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