Thank you for the invitation to share a loved one lost on the wings of Covid.
I have provided the link (bit.ly/SisterPat) to the obituary for my dear friend, Sr. Patricia Brennan, a Good Shepherd sister for 65 years. It is my gift to say I was her friend for 55 of those years having met her in 1965 when I expressed an interest in entering the community. I did, for 19 years, and during that time Pat was in charge of our formation throughout our novitiate years and I later lived with Pat in community.
As I remember her with fondness and love, what most comes to mind was her faithfulness throughout our lives and our relationship. It was, as all friendships, at times rocky but always solid and we easily came home to one another throughout the years.
She never forgot my birthday along with the reminder that I was in the process of “catching up” to her. She sustained me during the untimely death of my mother at the age of 43, and we were also living together in community when my father was killed in a car accident 14 years later.
It seemed that every time life loomed so large with loss that she was just...always there! And although time and distance separated us when I retired and moved from NY to FL, she remained that faithful presence in my life.
She was one who loved and was a loving community member, sister and aunt and great aunt. I know her family felt her loss very deeply and her religious community did as well.
I think of her often. I don’t pray for her...I pray to her. Her photo sits on my living room stand along with my mom and my husband, also now with God from cancer, on the shelf above.
I have found much wisdom in the writings of a favorite of mine, Sr. Joan Chittister who in her timeless book, “There Is A Season” - so timely for these times - writes, “But death does more than snap the bonds of our past and deplete the starch of our souls. Every little death we die turns us into something new and washes us up on the sunlit shore of a different psyche, a person called by the old name but unknown even to ourselves. Death is resurrection unwanted.”
So Pat is one life among the thousands in this country, millions in our global village, of those who have been taken. Just one life...but...part of my life...my friend and that makes it profound.
School Sister of St. Francis Josephine Seier who lived her religious vocation as a homemaker and caretaker died on May 1, 2020 at Our Lady of the Angels, in Greenfield, Wisconsin. Sister was 94 years old.
Sister Josephine was born on November 25, 1925 in Raeville, Nebraska. She was received into the School Sisters of St. Francis on June 13, 1941; made her first profession of vows in 1943; and made final (perpetual) vows in 1949.
Sister Josephine is survived by a sister, Betty Schmitz of Albion, Nebraska; nieces, nephews and cousins; and the School Sisters of St. Francis community with whom she shared her life for 77 years.
Sister Josephine ministered in Arizona, California, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota and Wisconsin for more than seven decades.
In the Archdiocese of Chicago, Sister served in Chicago as a homemaker at St. Nicholas Convent (1944-1946 and 1958-1959), St. Martin Convent (1946-1952), and SS Cyril & Methodius Convent (1959-1963).
In the Diocese of Des Moines. Sister served as a homemaker at St. Joseph Convent in Earling, Iowa (1942-1943 and 1967-1969).
In the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, Sister served at Catholic Social Services in Lincoln (1969-1971).
In the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Sister served as a homemaker at St. Joseph Convent in Waupun (1952-1958), and in Milwaukee she served in personal services at Maryhill Retirement Center (1995) and at Sacred Heart (1995-1996), served as a receptionist at LaFarge Lifelong Learning Institute (1996-2001), and cared for the elderly at Interfaith Older Adult Programs (2001-2004). She also ministered at St. Joseph Convent in Campbellsport (2004-2012).
In the Archdiocese of Omaha, Sister served as a homemaker at Our Lady of Grace Convent in Omaha (1973-1976), as driving coordinator at Sacred Heart Convent in Norfolk (1976-78) and at Mercy Fontenelle Retirement Center in Omaha (1978-1980). She also cared for the elderly at Interparish in Schuyler, Nebraska (1980-81), at St. Mary/St. Augustine Parish in Schuyler (1981-1989), and at New Cassel Retirement Center in Omaha (1989-1990).
In the Diocese of Orange, California, Sister served in parish ministry at St. Timothy Parish in Laguna Niguel (1991).
In the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois, Sister cared for the elderly at Maria Linden Retirement Center (1994-1995).
In the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Sister served as a homemaker at St. Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe (1972-1973).
In the Diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Sister served as a homemaker at St. Agatha Convent in Howard, South Dakota (1943-1944).
In the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis, she served as homemaker at St. Wenceslaus Convent in New Prague, Minnesota (1971-1972).
In the Diocese of Tucson, Sister cared for the elderly (1990-1994).
In her retirement, Sister served in the ministry of prayer and presence at Our Lady of the Angels Convent in Greenfield, Wisconsin from 2012 until the time of her death.
A Funeral Liturgy was held on May 6, 2020 at St. Joseph Chapel, Milwaukee. Interment was at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Milwaukee.
Sister Annelda Holtkamp, who lived her religious vocation as a homemaker, died on April 19, 2020, at Our Lady of the Angels Convent, in Greenfield, Wisconsin. Sister was 102 years old.
Sister Annelda was born on October 27, 1917, in St. Paul, Iowa. She was received into the School Sisters of St. Francis on June 13, 1943; made her first profession of vows in 1945; and made final (perpetual) vows in 1951.
Sister Annelda is survived by her sister Renelda Pieper of Houghton, Iowa; and the School Sisters of St. Francis Community, with whom she shared her life for 77 years.
Sister Annelda ministered in Wisconsin, Illinois and Nebraska for more than seven decades. In the Archdiocese of Chicago, Sister served as homemaker at St. Bernardine Convent in Forest Park (1950-1951), and at St. Peter Convent in Skokie (1954-1957).
In the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin, Sister served as homemaker at St. Mary Convent in Chilton (1992-2005).
In the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, Sister served as homemaker at Immaculate Conception Convent in Kieler (1947-1949). In the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, sister served as homemaker at St. Joseph Convent Motherhouse, Milwaukee (1945-1947) and (1951-1952), at St. Anthony of Padua Convent, Milwaukee (1949-1950), at Immaculate Conception Convent, Saukville (1958-1959), and at St. Joseph High School Convent, Kenosha (1959-1992).
In the Archdiocese of Omaha, Sister served as homemaker at St. Mary Convent in Osmond (1952-1954).
In her retirement, Sister served in the ministry of prayer and presence at St. Joseph Convent, Campbellsport (2005-2011), and at Our Lady of the Angels Convent, Greenfield, from 2011 until the time of her death.
A Funeral Liturgy was held on April 24, 2020, at St. Joseph Chapel, Milwaukee. Interment was at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Milwaukee.
School Sister of St. Francis Bernadette Kelter who lived her religious vocation as an educator and home health caretaker, died April 26, 2020, at Our Lady of the Angels Convent in Greenfield, Wisconsin. Sister was 88 years old.
Sister Bernadette was born on August 12, 1931, in Middleton, Wisconsin. She was received into the School Sisters of St. Francis on June 13, 1948; made her first profession of vows in 1950; and made final (perpetual) vows in 1956.
Sister Bernadette is survived by two sisters: Sister Catherine Kelter, SSSF, of Greenfield; and Mary Zimmerman of Madison, Wisconsin; and the School Sisters of St. Francis Community, with whom she shared her life for 72 years.
Sister Bernadette ministered in Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin for more than seven decades.
In the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa, Sister taught at St. John Nepomucene School in Fort Atkinson (1950-1953 and 1960-1963).
In the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois, Sister taught at St. Michael School in Wheaton (1956-1960).
In the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, she taught at SS Anthony and Philip School in Highland (1953-1956).
In the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Sister taught at SS Peter and Paul School in Nenno (1963-1967), at St. Kilian School in Hartford (1967-1978), and at St. James School in Menomonee Falls (1978-1980). She served as a home health aide in Milwaukee at Tau Home Health Care Agency (1980-1987), Home Health Services, Inc. (1987), Seton Home Health Services (1987-1995), Franciscan Home Health Care, Inc. (1995-1996), Covenant Home Health (1996-2006), and Wheaton Franciscan Home Health (2006-2007).
In her retirement, Sister served in the ministry of prayer and presence at St. Joseph Convent in Campbellsport, Wisconsin (2007-2011) and at Our Lady of the Angels Convent in Greenfield from 2011 until the time of her death.
A Funeral Liturgy was held on April 30, 2020, at St. Joseph Chapel, Milwaukee. Interment was at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Milwaukee.
Sister Marie June Skender (Maristeva), who lived her religious vocation as an educator, musician and parish minister for 65 years, died on April 7, 2020, at Our Lady of the Angels Convent in Greenfield, Wisconsin. Sister was 83 years old.
Sister Marie June was born on November 16, 1936, in Milwaukee. She was received into the School Sisters of St. Francis on June 13, 1953, made her first profession of vows in 1955, and final (perpetual) vows in 1961. Sister Marie June is survived by a brother, Steven Skender of Port Charlotte, Florida; a sister, Shirley Williams of West Allis, Wisconsin; nieces, nephews and cousins; and the School Sisters of St. Francis community with whom she shared her life for 67 years.
Sister Marie June ministered in Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin for more than six decades.
In the Archdiocese of Chicago, Sister served as a musician at St. Peter School in Skokie (1955-1958), where she also served as teacher/organist (1958-1960) and teacher (1960-1961).
In the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin, Sister served as teacher/organist at St. Charles School in Charlesburg, (1963-1965), where she also served as a principal and teacher/organist (1965-1969). She taught at St. Mary School in Chilton (1969-1971); served as music coordinator at Consolidated Parish Elementary School for Johnsburg and Chilton (1971-1972); and served in religious education and pastoral ministry at St. Anthony Parish in Niagara (1972-1982). She also served in pastoral ministry and director of religious education at St. John the Baptist parish in Seymour (1982-1987), and was director of pastoral care at Maryhill Manor, Niagara (1987-1990).
In the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Sister served as director of pastoral care at St. Joseph Convent, Campbellsport (1990-1996); served as secretary at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in West Allis (1998-1999), where she also served in pastoral care (2005-2012). Sister also served as pastoral minister at Clement Manor in Greenfield (1999-2001), was choral director at West Allis Center (2001-2002), and assisted with Christian formation at St. Augustine Parish in West Allis (2002-2005).
In the Diocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis, sister served as a teacher/organist at St. Walburga School in Fletcher (1961-1963).
In her retirement, Sister served in the ministry of prayer and presence at Sacred Heart in Milwaukee (2015-2016), and at Our Lady of the Angels Convent in Greenfield from 2016 until the time of her death. A Funeral Liturgy was held on April 16, 2020, at St. Joseph Convent Chapel in Milwaukee. Interment was at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Milwaukee.
Sister of St. Dominic of Amityville Anne Umbach was the first Sister of our Congregation lost due to complications from the Corona Virus on April 2, 2020. Dominican Sister Nancy Farry writes about her experience at the burial: ....
We attended your burial today.
Because of a virus we watched the liturgy on an iPad,
in the parking lot.
Not many attended in chapel
and they sat far apart.
The liturgy was beautiful.
The music was perfect.
And the day was spectacular!
The sun was shining and the sky a cloudless beautiful blue.
The trees were sporting their spring blossoms
as we traveled up the path to the cemetery.
What was missing in volume of attendees
was apparent in the measure of heart
of those who could attend
representing the ones who could not be there.
We were led in prayer
and sang the Dominican blessing
and as hands extended heavenward
we envisioned you there...
Joyfully reverent in a new freedom
being loved there ...as you are here
and we clapped...sharing the joy of a resurrection.
May the love you shared here ...continue
as you enjoy the presence of Love ...
In the place prepared for you by Him Who is Eternal Love....
Anne, our love for you continues
and we do miss you!
Sister Julia was born in New Orleans, LA. After entering MMS in 1948 she earned a B.A. in 1952, then in 1953, a master’s degree in Library Science from Catholic University in Washington, D.C.
Sister Julia worked as a librarian and in publicity in MMS’s Philadelphia office, then in admissions from 1957-1961 at Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. She next went to the Philippines for one year to serve in the novitiate office. She returned to Philadelphia in 1962 and for the next several years was a librarian in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. and staff member at St. Vincent’s Hospital and Child Study Center in Philadelphia.
In 1972 Sr. Julia earned an MSW from St. Louis University and worked as a social worker in St. Louis, MO and Las Vegas, NM. She began teaching college level courses in 1975 and earned her PhD in Sociology in 1983. She taught for 12 years at Arkansas State University.
When she retired from teaching, Sister Julia volunteered in prison ministry, in a soup kitchen, as a child advocate, parish worker and chaplain. She lived in Louisiana, Arizona and Florida before returning to Philadelphia in 2007. Sister was down-to-earth and diplomatic yet frank in voicing her opinions about social justice and bureaucracy. Her life was her mission.
Sr. Jacinta (Mary Florence) was born and raised in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. She earned her R.N. in 1956 from St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and entered MMS in 1958. For her first 13 years of mission assignment Sr. Jacinta was in India. She worked as a nurse-midwife and staff nurse at MMS Holy Family Hospitals in Mandar, Bombay and New Delhi.
Sr. Jacinta then worked in nursing homes in Canada for three years before moving to Italy. She spent a cherished year in Rome, providing nursing care to MMS Founding Mother Anna Dengel for the year before she passed on.
Continuing her passion for the elderly, Sr. Jacinta cared for the older MMS in Philadelphia, earned a certificate in gerontology in 1982 and then moved to Florida from 1986 – 2008. She worked as a visitor and respite provider for the homebound elderly and as a volunteer in hospice care, in Tampa, Holiday and St. Petersburg.
When she returned to Philadelphia Sr. Jacinta worked in the MMS Mission Development Center for 11 years. Despite medical challenges, she volunteered weekly without fail; she was genuine and optimistic with a delightful penchant to call things as she saw them. Sister Jacinta was fiercely independent and taught herself to lip read when she lost her hearing. She was devoted to her family and will be greatly missed by all.
Sr. Patrice was born to American parents who were living in Colombia; the family moved to Venezuela when Sr. Patrice was seven. She finished her schooling in the U.S. and earned her R.N. in 1953. She joined MMS in 1954.
Having fallen in love with Venezuela, Sr. Patrice was thrilled to return there for her mission assignment. She lived and worked in Maracaibo, Caripe, Santo Domingo and Barquisimeto for a total of 40 years. She was a staff nurse, a parish worker and cared for a family whose mother suffered from mental illness. Sr. Patrice created a bussing project for children with disabilities and helped transform the community’s view on disability. She faithfully and tenderly nurtured the relationships she had developed in Venezuela until she passed.
Sister Patrice earned her B.S.N. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1970, followed with a master’s in public health from the University of Puerto Rico and a midwifery certificate.
Upon Sr. Patrice’s return to Philadelphia in 1999, she was a parish worker and served on the MMS North America Justice Committee. She volunteered in the Mission Development Center until March 2020. Sr. Patrice was a talented writer and artist and was cherished for her gentle and caring nature, along with her keen wit.
May 28, 1927 - May 11, 2020
Sister Maribeth is remembered by one who knew her as doing everything she undertook to perfection. Surely, she has reached her perfect reward.
Elizabeth Jane Takes was born on May 28, 1927 in Bernard, Iowa, to Fred and Anna Wagner Takes. She was one of eight children, five girls and three boys. Of the eight, Frank, Harold, Rita and Sister Carla are deceased. Surviving siblings are Earl, Grace and Marion.
Betty, as she was called, graduated from North Garryowen High School in 1942 and attended Clarke College in Dubuque for two years. She then taught all grades for five years in the local public school system. She met the Sisters of Humility of Mary at Marycrest College which she attended for three (3) years, graduating in 1953 with a degree in Art Education.
The fact that the five (5) Takes sisters all ended up at Marycrest was due to a priest of the Dubuque archdiocese. In 1951, her sister Rita, who was working at the archdiocesan office, told the priest she would like to go to college out of town. He suggested a visit to the Marycrest campus in Davenport. He was a good friend of Bishop Henry Rohlman who was instrumental in its founding. This suggestion was certainly unexpected as most Catholic girls were going to nearby Clarke College in Dubuque or Mount Mercy in Cedar Rapids. Further, the Humilities were unknown to the Takes family. After all, they had aunts who were Mercy and Dubuque Franciscan sisters and they had invited them to join their communities.
A Sunday visit to the campus resulted in Betty, older sister Lucille who had one year at Clarke, and Rita starting as junior, sophomore and freshman students, respectively, at Marycrest that fall. All were “non-traditional” students for that time as they were into their twenties. The following September 1952, there was a Takes in every class at Marycrest as Grace started as a freshman in dietetics. By that time Betty, now a Humility postulant, was a senior in art education, Lucille was a junior, and Rita was a sophomore in dietetics. Youngest sister, Marion, also graduated from Marycrest eventually.
Betty entered the Congregation of the Humility of Mary on September 8, 1952 and received the habit and her name in religion, Sister Maribeth, the following summer. She was professed in 1955 after having spent her third year in the Novitiate with her sister/postulant, Lucille, who became Sr. Carla that same summer. She has surviving “classmates” Srs. Roberta Brich, Maria Caridad Inda and Joan LeBeau.
Sr. Maribeth taught primary grades at St. Mary’s School in Ottumwa as a senior novice and was missioned there for five more years after she was professed. She then taught in Centerville for two (2) years. In 1963 Sr. Maribeth was assigned to the new St. Pius X school in Rock Island as principal for three (3) years. That school had a different culture from the Iowa schools where the Humilities had been for many years. This was a new parish, in a rapidly growing area of Rock Island. The school had two classrooms of students in each grade and, at first, no church. The Second Vatican Council was in progress and the idea of change was contagious.
She returned to Clarke College for graduate work and received a Master’s degree in Education with a special endorsement as a reading specialist. In 1966 she received her last “mission paper” to return to St. Pius where she became part of a noteworthy community during the early years of major change in the lives of the Sisters of Humility. Already they enjoyed the luxury of individual rooms in the convent with a shared bathroom between two. The many young sisters there could continue their education at Marycrest. In addition, the young priest assistants entertained the sisters, for example, with gifts, some functional, some not, on each of the 12 days of Christmas. In 1974 there was a reconfiguration of the Catholic schools in Rock Island into the Jordan Catholic system where she taught third grade for four more years.
Sr. Maribeth joined Humilities in the inner city of Davenport when parish schools of St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s were combined into Trinity Catholic School. She taught second grade during which she said she “was privileged” to prepare the children for their First Communion. She and Sr. Patrice Steffes teamed up to help each child make his/her own clay vessels. Paten, chalice and finger bowl were, painstakingly, fashioned and then fired in a kiln. During the process the children also learned how heat turned the soft clay into ceramic pottery.
It was not difficult to collect memories of Sr. Maribeth from persons who knew or worked with her. One person commented that she never heard her complain. She was an excellent reading teacher and loved her students. The music teacher said they even learned how to “read music” by being able to tell if the tune went up or down from the way the notes appeared. Every once in a while, someone would call her “Mom”. It never caught her off-guard; she would answer their question and proceed with class.
Sr. Maribeth lived with the community at the Pleasant Street house until they moved to Humility of Mary Center in 2008. There she and Sr. Carla kept busy making cloth napkins for the dining room and linens for the chapel. The two of them had a special box made for storing the long, white pall placed on the sister’s casket at the time of the Funeral Mass. Sr. Carla said she continued to be a “whiz” at doing the “Jumble” puzzle in the newspaper despite other memory challenges.
The Center was a convenient place for Takes family gatherings, accommodating out-of-town visitors while they connected with family throughout eastern Iowa. The grandkids used the pool to their great delight.
After moving to Bishop Drumm Retirement Center in 2012, Sr. Maribeth was engaged in a ministry of prayer and witness. Now she will go down in history as one of the victims of the COVID-19 Pandemic of 2020. Hopefully, by now, Sr. Carla, who died less than six months ago, has a head start on learning how to “rest in peace in heaven”.
Sister Marianne Nehus
December 23, 1952 - May 10, 2020
Sr. Marianne tells her story in her own words in an autobiography she wrote in August 2006.
I was born, the fourth of seven children, to George and Betty Byers Nehus, on December 23, 1952 in Honolulu, Hawaii. My dad was in the Air Force so we moved frequently. All seven children were born in a different place – Bermuda, Oklahoma and Hawaii are three of the seven. There were four girls and three boys born between 1938 and 1959 – Bob, Pat, Jeanne, John, Me, Mike & Helen. My oldest brother Bob was out of the house before I was old enough to even know him—though I greatly enjoyed it when he would come home to visit. My mother’s family was from Montana, so when her father died in December of 1963 – that was when my Dad retired from the Air Force – we moved to Lewistown, Montana in the dead of winter. Dad stayed behind in Hawaii “to get things in order” and arrived in Lewistown, I think, in April when the temperature was 40 below! I am sure he thought Mom was nuts wanting to move to Montana. We lived in Lewistown until the middle of my sophomore year and then moved to Great Falls.
I was in the fifth grade when I first went to Catholic school – St. Leo’s in Lewistown. S. Jan McCann was my first “nun” teacher…and as I always told her, she scared me half to death! Over the years I had numerous CHMs as teachers. S. Marie Wight (then S. St. Charles), S. Mary Martin Lane (now associate Mary Martin Lane), S. Leona Mary Manning, S. Alberta Ann Scott, Sr. Miriam Rita Goga, S. Veronica Kirscher, S. Cecelia Vandeberg, S. Joseph Moynihan, and my aunt, S. John Byers. S. Mary John taught me art at Central High School in Great Falls. [She always said I was terrible at art, but she gave me A’s on all my research papers. I only had the courage to tell her years later that the research papers were totally plagiarized from an old book I had found.]
I was never one to “follow the crowd”. I did what I thought was the best thing to do, even if it wasn’t what everyone else did. This probably kept me out of the beer parties in high school. To this day I don’t drink, nor want the cost. I think I learned from my Dad to “pinch my pennies”. I am sure my independent spirit also kept me from smoking cigarettes, even though it was popular in high school and my parents were both avid smokers.
The spirit is probably also what led me to become a religious sister and eventually a CHM. I had wanted to become a nun since about Junior High and never wavered from this desire through high school. I even remember dressing as a nun for Halloween one year and, on Halloween some years later, dressing my little sister as a nun. Of course, SMJ would’ve liked me to become a CHM, but I wanted to “wear a habit and did not want to teach.” This led me to my first community in 1971 in New Jersey, “The Servants of the Holy Infancy of Jesus,” a very traditional Franciscan order. Since geography was never my strong suit, I didn’t realize that New Jersey was on the opposite end of the U.S. from Montana. Being an idealistic teen, this probably wouldn’t have bothered me even if I had known. I wore a Habit and became a nurse.
The Holy Spirit is very patient and works in mysterious ways. Over the next 14 years my beliefs and values changed. In 1985 I left that Franciscan community and lived independently for two years. During the period of discernment, I decided I still wanted to be a sister but not in my former community. Wearing a habit was no longer important. Though, I still did not want to teach, I knew Humilities were free to choose their own type of ministry. So, in 1987, I ‘came home to the Humilities” and began the transfer process. I have always considered myself a “Franciscan Humility” as I feel the Humility spirit is very Franciscan.
I started working at Genesis (then Mercy) in pediatrics, then Visiting Nurses and then in a physical rehab unit. In 1979 I had begun to have some strange physical symptoms which progressed from “possible” to “probable” to “yeah, you have it” multiple sclerosis. I have always called M.S. a “creepy-crawly” disease as the symptoms come and go, and everybody experiences it differently. I had the disease for years before I had to stop working for a salary and accept disability. I continued to have an informal ministry, trying to be present to the poor and powerless around me. I have tried to make the best use of my gifts as I progressed from the invisible to obvious signs of this dreadful disease. I was pleased to serve on the Governor Vilsack’s Prevention of Disabilities Committee.
For me, the poor and powerless have never been only people, but also homeless and helpless animals. Anyone who knows me, knows I have always been a lover of animals, especially cats. I became involved with Animal Aid Humane Society when the cats that S. Patrice and I had would tire of the many gadgets we would get for them. I would take them over to the shelter, a little storefront in Moline. After years of involvement there, I became Executive Director. The homeless animals and all the volunteers who operate the Shelter have always been important to me.
There are so many things that have been significant to me through my life. I have to mention the CHM Associate program. I have been involved with the Extension Advisory Committee almost since I moved to Iowa. I have been active in reviewing Associate applications and contracts. I accepted S. Joann Kuebrick’s position as Associate Coordinator when she resigned in 2002. Besides meeting and conversing with possible new Associates, I enjoyed writing the Lenten and Advent letters to Associates and Contact Sisters. The letters were very personal to me and reflected my own life. I always hoped they were as helpful to others in their spiritual journey as they were to me. I trust that the Associate Program has and will continue to grow.
I count on being welcomed by CHMs who have crossed the bridge into Heaven before me, and the continuation of our CHM journey. I hate to break it to all of you who believe that animals “belong outside,” but there is a special section of heaven for animals and the people who love them. That is where you will find me.”
A few additions. Although Sr. Marianne had said she would not want to work with “sick children” because their deaths would be so sad, she actually found the work rewarding for the improvements the children made. She was a talented “crafts-person”. At Marycrest Senior Campus she lived in an apartment converted from the sacristy of the big chapel on second floor. It had long and wide, but shallow, drawers for the priest’s chasubles. In them she had all kinds of craft tools – punches, scissors, paints and brushes, stamps. She continued to do crafty things at Bishop Drumm Retirement Center such as seasonal or holiday name tags for the sisters’ doors. She was a photographer and made up picture “stories”. She also helped arrange community prayer services there. When her sisters visited they stayed several days and she enjoyed going out to eat.
Sister Bernadine claimed the title of “matriarch” as the first of eleven children–three girls and eight boys. There were 51 fourth graders in her first teaching experience at Holy Spirit School. Next, she was sent to Saint Peter School and then to Saint Boniface, all three in Louisville. Sister taught in Nebraska and her adventures there were frequently told in conversations, including several about training the boys to be servers at Mass. She taught at several other parish schools in Louisville and returned to Omaha, Nebraska to serve as principal at Blessed Sacrament School, Omaha, for nine years. Her last position was principal of Saint Philip School in Mt. Vernon, Indiana. From 1992 to 1998, she was coordinator of the Ursuline Motherhouse community and then volunteered at Jewish Hospital, Suburban Medical Center and at the Hospice inpatient unit at Norton Hospital. Calling seniors in Elderserve was meaningful because she loved to talk!
Sister Jane taught for 33 years in education and served on Leadership. Sister Jane volunteered to go to Peru, South America, in 1964, when the Ursuline Sisters announced the opening of a mission there. Sister Jane taught English to children at the Peruvian Navy School until 1971. In an article in The Record, dated October 18, 1979, Sister commented about her time in Peru: “Sometimes you go to the mission area with the idea of helping others. But when you get down to it, you’re the one who’s being helped by learning to appreciate and experience other cultures and other people’s struggles.”
Sister Isabel served in several ministries. The first was education for 35 years, then as a hospital chaplain in Columbia, South Carolina, then made history when she became the first female chaplain of that city’s police department. Ginny Schaeffer, the director of the Angela Merici Center for Spirituality, wrote the following in the reflections read by Sister Janet Marie Peterworth, president of the Ursuline Sisters, at Sister Isabel’s funeral service. “One of the gifts that Sister Isabel brought to almost every situation . . . was her wonderfully wicked, dry wit.” Ginny also noted, “Another…[was] her authenticity. She was the epitome of the cliché, ‘What you see is what you get.’”
Sister Lorraine taught grades one through eight (except seventh) in Louisville at Sacred Heart Model School and at St. Joseph, Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Rita, St. Clement and Most Blessed Sacrament schools; in Sidney, Nebraska, at St. Patrick Academy; and in Cumberland, Maryland, at St. Mary School. Sister was a very proper, exact person, always busy. A graduate of Sacred Heart Model School remembers Sister Lorraine for her detailed, but patient, instructions in cursive writing. “I can still write beautifully today.” When asked what was the most difficult ministry, Sister would always reply—serving as principal for one year at St. Mary. She often said, “I liked teaching the lower grades!” Sister Lorraine also ministered in Iowa City, Iowa.
Sister Mary was a well-loved aunt with two brothers and was a member of the Medical Missionaries of Mary. She was a kind and spirited lady who loved her family, her vocation, being a nurse/midwife, and God. She spent her life helping others both physically and spiritually. Sister Mary had a great sense of humor; her smile was contagious. She loved fishing and a good glass of wine and enjoyed photography which she learned from her father. Her family loved listening to her stories from years serving as a midwife in Africa. In the last year or two, she experienced dementia, yet she was always smiling and happy. COVID-19 took her life on April 15, 2020. She is missed by so many.
Sr. Louise was always the life of the party, as everyone knows. But there are few of us who know how she helped us during summer studies . In the middle of a hot afternoon, when we would start to stretch and stand for a break, Louise would start telling jokes and was really our comic relief. When our belly laughs were over, we could get back to work. Every day was the same, and we loved it!
I have admired Sr. Regis from the first time I met her 60+ years ago. She was simple in the best sense of that word. She often said, “I love people”. After her death the recurrent theme was, “she never said an unkind word to or about anyone.” She was always ready to pray for us and our intentions. She had to be in a nursing home because of lung cancer among other problems and while there the COVID-19 virus caught up to her and sent her home to God. Never a complaint, but always a joyous caring word.
Sr Mary Katherine Donato died on April 15th 2020. She joined the Medical Missionaries of Mary as a registered nurse and later became a nurse mid-wife tutor. She shared her gifts, talents but most of all her glorious smile with people in Mexico, Nigeria, Tanzania and here in the US ( spanning 66 years ) She simply lived our congregational motto - she was woman "Rooted and Founded in Love" with all she met.
Two beautiful souls who taught at St. Joan Antida High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for many years, - brought light and laughter to hearts in most need. Their kindness and unshakable faith have been an inspiration to everyone who knew them. They leave a thousand stories, memories and images that will remain with us forever.