In Memoriam

We honor the sisters and associates who have shared their lives with us and who have died recently. A Mass is offered at each of our retirement homes for each of them.

Sister Mary Irene Deger
Sister Sophia Duris
Sister Nivard Hainault
Sister Mary Hettich
Sister Beatus Laible
Sister Agnes Meysenburg

>>View archived commentaries



Associate Bette Crumrine
Associate Adalice Hurst

To view live or archived services, and other selected events, visit the community’s streaming video page.

Associate Bette Crumrine

Born:  April 3, 1928
Died:  April 20, 2016

Bette Lou Crumrine passed away peacefully on April 20, 2016 at the North Shore Health and Rehab Facility in Loveland, Colorado at age 88.

Betty Lou Smith was born on April 3, 1928 in Minneapolis, MN to Louise Berner and Ray Smith. Bette spent her younger years in South Dakota and Colorado, often living with her beloved Aunt Edith and Uncle Henry on the farm in western South Dakota. Bette graduated from Rapid City High School in 1946. Following graduation, Bette moved to the Denver area where she met and married Frank Zamora in 1947. Bette and Frank were parents to three children: Maurice, Lawrence, and Karen. Frank’s service in the military took the family to Utah, New Mexico, Germany and Iowa.

In 1973, Bette moved to Des Moines, Iowa where she took a position with Iowa Job Service. Bette was passionate about her work and enjoyed developing programs and attending training in her chosen field. She continued working for the State of Iowa Department of Human Services in various capacities until her retirement in 1994. After retirement, Bette stayed busy as a volunteer and served for several years on the State Council for Community Action Agencies.

Bette met and married Clifford Crumrine in 1975. Bette gained three sons through this union: David, Douglas and Darrell. Bette and Cliff shared a passion for music hosting and attending Bluegrass gatherings with friends and family. Cliff and Bette also developed a strong spiritual connection and became active members of the Catholic Church. Cliff and Bette spent their later years traveling and working at RV parks before settling in Arizona. Clifford passed away in 2001.

Bette believed in connecting with others and continued on her faith journey in recent years. She was an Associate of the School Sisters of Saint Francis, she was ordained to deliver communion, and on October 4, 2014 she went through the Rite of Commitment where she was Professed into the Secular Franciscan Order.

Bette loved her family; she was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Cliff; a son, Morey D; and a sister, Dorothy. She is survived by a sister, Shirley Jones of MN; daughter-in-law, Nedra Zamora of Greely, CO; Lawrence Zamora of Loveland, CO; daughter-in-law, Pam Mason of Evans, CO; daughter Karen and Sharon Keith-Zamora of Pine, CO; son David and Diane Crumrine of Sioux Center, IA; son Doug and Sarah Crumrine of O’Neill, NE; and son Darrell and Denise Crumrine of Balaton, MN. Bette is also survived by her grandchildren: Tanya Jeske, Danielle Koontz, Telesfor Zamora, Tyson Zamora, Chase Zamora, Robert Keith-Zamora, Elizabeth Crumrine, Jenny Crumrine, Katherine Crumrine, Jacob Crumrine, Jessica Crumrine, Austin Crumrine, Mason Crumrine, Emily Crumrine, Ellie Crumrine and Calvin Crumrine. She has several great-grandchildren and extended family members that were all special to her.

A mass to remember Bette Lou Crumrine will be held at San Francisco de Asis Catholic Parish in Flagstaff, AZ on April 30, 2016, at 7:00 PM and a celebration of her life will be held on May 14, 2016 at 11:00 AM at the Poudre Canyon Chapel, in Rustic, CO prior to her interment. Memorial contributions can be directed to the Secular Franciscan Order, 1600 E Route 66 Flagstaff, AZ 86001 or the Humane Society US, Memorial Donations, 2100 L St. NW, Washington, DC 20037.

Sister Sophia Duris (Vincentella)

Born:  February 24, 1920
Died: June 7, 2016

 When listening to Sister Sophia relate her life’s story, you sense that maybe her first legal document was a passport! Her story begins with her parents coming to the United States – her father, Adam, from Yugoslavia and her mother, Pauline, from Slovakia.  They settled in Ford City, Pennsylvania, where Mr. Duris worked for the Pittsburgh Glass Company.  Sophia, born during the roaring 20s on February 24, 1920, was the second oldest in a family of nine – six girls and three boys. 

When she was a year old the family returned to Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia to visit relatives.  While there, another baby daughter was born.  After a year in Europe, the family moved back to Pennsylvania and settled in Ford View, close to Ford City.  Sophia was enrolled at Holy Trinity School in Ford City for all of first grade and part of second grade. 

In 1927 the Duris family, along with several other Slovak families, moved to Kokomo, Indiana, where Pittsburg Plate Glass had a branch and required their employees to move to that location. Sophia completed her second grade and all of the third and fourth grades at St. Joan of Arc School in Kokomo.  With the Depression some jobs were eliminated and the Duris family moved back to their former home in Ford City.  Sophia returned to Holy Trinity School to complete grades five through eight.

School days were exciting and happy for Sophia. The School Sisters of St. Francis staffed Holy Trinity School.  Sophia greatly admired her second grade teacher, Sister Mercedes. While in that grade, she was smitten with the measles, and during her quarantine at home, she wrote a letter to Sister Mercedes telling her she wanted to be a sister just like her.  And that she did; not waiting until the fall to enter, as was the custom, she came to St. Joseph Convent, Milwaukee two weeks after graduating from eighth grade with the Sisters coming in for retreat. (Many years later Sister Mercedes related to Sophia that she still had her letter.)

Sophia made a quick, though tearful, adjustment to convent life. All the classes and activities of St. Joseph High School remedied her bouts of homesickness. Reception into the community was during June 1937, and she was given the name Sister Vincentella.  As was the custom, she completed her undergraduate work at Alverno College and did additional coursework at Mount Mary College, Northern Illinois University, Marquette University and Syracuse University either during the summer sessions or weekends during the academic year.          

Sister’s ministry was teaching, 62 years in all. Her first mission was her first love – Holy Trinity School in Mount Olive, Illinois, where she taught grades one through four for seven years. Then it was on to St. Charles School in Cassville, Wisconsin, for two years.  

Sometime and somehow during her years of study, Sophia also became involved in learning and teaching proper nutrition. Her fame as a nutritional advisor and management expert spread far and wide, and eventually came to the attention of the administration at Pius XI High School in Milwaukee, in search of a Home Economics’ director to head the department.  In her capacity as the Home Economics Director she also taught nutrition and religion classes for 11 years.  She continued this ministry at Boylan High School, Rockford, Illinois, for nine more years.

Then it was back to elementary education, followed by a new career, Director of Religious Education, in several parishes in Kankakee, Illinois, for another 16 years. Sister Sophia prepared herself for this change by earning a master’s degree in Religious Studies, attending summer sessions for five years at the University of Detroit.  Her last mission was again in elementary education in McHenry, Illinois, for almost another 20 years.   What a great educator!

In November 2004 Sister Sophia headed for St. Joseph Convent, Campbellsport to recuperate, but with the intention of returning to mission work.  She arrived at Campbellsport well equipped to continue a hobby which brought her so much enjoyment: stringing rosaries. In fact, for years Sister Sophia belonged to a Rosary Guild who made rosaries for missionaries, hospitalized people and even the Marines. Other hobbies included needlework and playing the piano. Life for her was never boring!

Along with several other sisters she moved from Campbellsport to Sacred Heart Convent in Milwaukee in 2013.  By this time her health had declined and her days were spent in prayer and presence with her new family of sisters at Sacred Heart.

Sister Sophia, your life has been an inspiration to all the thousands of people you have touched along life’s journey.  We are all so very grateful for your being the Franciscan Face of the Gospel!  Go now in peace, and receive the reward God Has prepared for you.   By:   Sister M. Louette


Sister Nivard Hainault

Born:  March 25, 1924
Died:  March 2, 2016

Mary Catherine was born on March 25, 1924. She was the ninth of 14 children born to Albert and Delia (Chandonais) Hainault, in Hubbell, Michigan.

When she reached school age, she attended St. Cecilia Grace School in Hubbell, staffed by the School Sisters of St. Francis. After eighth grade, Mary Catherine thought about entering the School Sisters of St. Francis. Her father told her she was not old enough to make such an important decision, so she attended and was a 1942 graduate of, Lake Linden-Hubbell High School in Lake Linden. She entered the School Sisters of St. Francis in August of that year as a candidate and was received into the the community on June 13, 1943, and was given the name Sister Nivard. Her class numbered 43 and now there are 13 sisters and one associate. Sister Nivard professed her vows on June 21, 1945. A quote from Sister Nivard: “Since finances were limited in our big family, my dowry consisted of toothbrush, comb, finger nail file, and the clothes I was wearing.”

Sister Nivard held various teaching positions in the Milwaukee area, namely Holy Redeemer, St. Wenceslaus, St. Mary Hales Corners, and St. Catherine. While at St. Wenceslaus, she supervised Alverno student teachers as a critic teacher, and at St. Catherine, she was first a teacher for ten years and then became the principal. In 1973 she moved to Menomonee Falls where Sister Nivard ministered for the next 39 years. She was principal of St. Mary and St. James Schools. She was the Pastoral Associate and Director of the RCIA Program at Saint Anthony Parish in Menomonee Falls; Extrordinary Minister of Holy Communion; and involved in hospital ministry. Sister Nivard was a vital member of the Catholic Church in Waukesha County. For her 85th birthday, Saint Anthony Parish gifted her with a trip to Assisi, Italy, a lifelong dream.

Sister had a special devotion to St. Joseph and loved nature, especially colored leaves, birds, a beautiful sunset and butterflies, all of which made her a more-than-willing participant to trips to the North Woods of Wisconsin and Michigan.

In 2012, Sister retired to St. Joseph Convent and in 2013 was among the first residents to live in Maria Linden. She could often be found in the Maria Linden lobby after the noon meal keeping up with comings and goings of the other residents of Maria Linden. She always had a ready smile and a sharp wit to greet those passing by.

Sister Nivard was preceded in death by her parents; brothers Albert (Bud), Paul, Ted and Harry; sisters Henrietta, Alice, infants Claire and Dorothy, Loraine, and Betty. She is survived by her sibilings in Michigan: Joe of Edmore, Pat Lynch of Detroit, and Joan Poissant of Ishpeming; sisters-in-law Lillian of Marquette and Gretchen of Hubbell; as well as her community of the School Sisters of St. Francis in Milwaukee.


Sister Mary T. Hettich (Theonard)

Born:  December 24, 1927
Died:   July 3, 2016

Mary was born on December 24, 1927, in La Porte, Indiana, to Cyril and Cecelia Rachor Hettich.  She was the third of seven children; all six of her siblings were boys. When Mary was eight months old, the family moved from La Porte to Chicago, Illinois, to take care of Mary’s grandmother, who had a stroke in her fifties.  In Chicago, the family lived just a block from St. Martin Roman Catholic Church, making participation in church and community events quite frequent.

The family was very close, and enjoyed being and working together. Mary’s mother knew and loved opera, and they often listened to opera on Saturdays. The family spent a great deal of time reaching out to others and helping those in need. They helped Mary’s grandmother, worked for the missions, and did what they could for those poorer than themselves. Mary entered the School Sisters of St. Francis at St. Joseph Convent in Milwaukee after completing eighth grade at St. Martin’s Parish Grade School. Three of her siblings went to St. Meinrad’s Seminary in southern Indiana, and another attended Marmion Military Academy run by the Benedictines in Aurora.

Mary attended St. Joseph High School and went on to college, which was also at the convent at that time. She attended DePaul University in Chicago on Saturdays to complete the requirements for a bachelor’s degree at Alverno. When teaching in Iowa and Nebraska, Sister attended Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, on Saturdays and during the summers in order to earn a Masters Degree in Education Administration with a minor in history.

After many years of teaching, as well as the Vatican Council calling for teachers of religious education to update their credentials according to the Council’s requirements, Sister received a Master’s Degree in Religious Education in Spokane, Washington. She later took four units of clinical pastoral education in San Francisco, California, and worked as a clinical pastoral educator in hospitals in South Dakota and Missouri, as well as at School Sisters of St. Francis institutions at Maryhill, Sacred Heart, and Campbellsport.

Sister enjoyed both the education and using that education for others. She especially appreciated reading and research. She felt privileged to have the School Sisters of St. Francis as teachers when she attended grade school, high school, and in most of her college courses in the convent. She learned the value of excellence and a strong work ethic.

It seemed to Sister that the first years in the convent were very structured while living in the Motherhouse, as was religious life in most convents at that time. When on mission, the sisters were always very busy. Their work ethic at home, in their congregation, and from their German backgrounds was very useful as there was much work to be done. The School Sisters of St. Francis were always ready to do whatever was necessary. The beginning years were busy and very happy years. As members of the School Sisters of St. Francis, the sisters received quality educational preparation for whatever was needed to serve God’s people.

Sister Mary began her ministry as a teacher in Chicago and, after six years, went to Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. She spent five years at St. Mary’s School as a teacher and then started the new Good Shepherd School as a principal and teacher. In 1959, she taught at St. Rita’s in West Allis, Wisconsin, and then St. Joseph’s in Earling, Iowa. She moved to Omaha, Nebraska where she taught at Ryan High School and had many students that were aspirants to the School Sisters of St. Francis community.

During this time, Sister Mary, with the help of Sister Joselyn Brenner, coordinated all activities for the aspirants. The two sisters helped the religious education teachers in South Dakota for the next eight years. Although they moved five times in those eight years to better accommodate those they were serving, the work was always helping the teachers prepare their lessons and activities according to the catechesis outlined by the concepts of Vatican II. The two sisters at any time were working with anywhere from four to 12 parishes. These were some of Sister’s happiest experiences of mission life. 

From 1976 to 1989, Sister served the community for two terms as a member of the Provincial Team and two terms as the ministry and personnel director. She was then encouraged to begin pastoral ministry. Sister attended the University of California-San Francisco Medical Center, completing four units of clinical pastoral education. She then returned to South Dakota and worked as the chaplain at Sacred Heart Hospital in Yankton. Community called her back to Wisconsin, and she then served in pastoral care at Maryhill Retirement Center. She continued to serve the sisters after they moved from Maryhill to Sacred Heart.

From 1977 to 1979, she used her religious education preparation, again assisting several parishes in Nebraska. A move to Missouri gave her another seven years as chaplain at St. Francis Hospital in Maryville, Missouri. Another call from the community meant two more years of pastoral care at St. Joseph Convent in Campbellsport, Wisconsin. In 2008, Sister retired at the Motherhouse in Milwaukee as a driver and volunteer. When Our Lady of the Angels opened in 2011, Sister Mary moved there and helped to build community with her sisters and the School Sisters of Notre Dame. It was there that she spent her final days.

Looking over her life as a School Sister of St. Francis, Sister was most thankful for the support of the community: respecting the sisters for who they were and for the work they were doing. Sister was very much a community person and wanted the very best for her community. Sister Mary appreciated God in nature and, when she had the opportunity in South Dakota, she would spend time outdoors and walk along the Missouri River, which is the boundary between Nebraska and South Dakota. She also enjoyed listening to classical music, reading history, learning about new fields, such as medical research, and visiting museums. Her religious life has been very rewarding and enriching.

And now, Sister Mary, you are learning what God has prepared for those who were faithful to their religious commitment. Enjoy your eternal reward.


Associate Adalice Marie Hurst

Born: July 10, 1919
Died: April 13, 2015

In April, Adalice Marie Hurst entered into eternal life. She became an associate at the age of 76 and was an associate for 19 years. She was part of the Great Plains Region, later know as Our Lady of Peace area. She committed herself to living the gospel through dedicated service to the poor and the sick. She believed in spreading a positive spirit of peace and joy. She also ministered to unwed mothers.

Adalice grew up in a small fishing village in Portugal and came to Boston to attend college. After graduating, she returned to Portugal where she met her husband, Lestell. They had three children, two boys and a girl. Because of her husband’s work, the family traveled all over the world. After his death at age 44, she and the children moved to the United States. Times were hard, but God was there for them. All of her children graduated from college and went on for master’s degrees.

Adalice lived in a nursing home supported by the Little Sisters of the Poor in Colorado. The sisters were in her room praying a night prayer when she died. Part of that prayer was the singing of the “Salve Maria.” Adalice died peacefully. Lord, give her eternal life.


Sister Agnes Meysenburg (Sylvestra)

Born:  March 3, 1922
Died:  July 20, 2016

On March 3, 1922, Sister Agnes came into the world as the eighth child of Henry and Amelia Meysenburg. She was born on the family’s farm outside of David City in the heart of Nebraska’s Platte Valley. She was baptized a few days later in St. Mary’s Parish as Agnes Loyola in honor of her mother’s friend, Sister Loyola. Her first memory was at age three when she visited her grandfather in the hospital and he gave her an orange.

When Agnes was in third grade, she nearly died from blood poisoning after stepping onto a rusty pitchfork. As the infection spread, she was bedridden and her parents asked Father Wageman to give her First Communion. After six weeks she returned to school in time to receive solemn Communion with her classmates.

By their actions, Agnes’ parents taught their children to accept others who were different from themselves. The children of the only black family in town attended the Catholic school. If Agnes’ mother who was driving her children to school saw the children walking, she would say: “Move over kids. We are taking the Colemans with us.” When questioned, she said: “They are all God’s children.”

Despite the hard work and long hours involved in farming, the Meysenburg family knew how to have fun. The nine siblings played board games, checkers, dominos and card games. Together with her sisters, Agnes spent time at the piano singing and harmonizing. On summer evenings their dad would pack the kids into the car and drive around the countryside stopping to examine fields of grain. The family also went to the county fair and parish socials.

After third grade, Agnes and her family moved to a different farm. She attended Presentation Parish School in Little Luxemburg, which was founded by her grandfather. Here she met the School Sisters of St. Francis and took private piano lessons from Sister Ellen Diez. Her oldest sister, Henrietta, joined the Ursuline order, but after completing ninth grade, Agnes followed her sister Amalia (Sister Clarice) to St. Joseph Convent in Milwaukee. At the time of her entrance she weighed only 98 pounds and the superiors were concerned that Agnes would not endure the rigors of community life. But Agnes did more than endure; she thrived, and in 1940 at her reception was given the name Sister Sylvestra.

While completing a college degree in music at Alverno College, she taught music theory and violin to aspirants and postulants at St. Joseph Convent High School. After graduation in 1947, she began teaching at Alverno, which was then located at St. Joseph Convent. While teaching she went on to receive a master’s degree in violin and theory from the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Milwaukee. In 1954 Alverno College opened its new campus on Milwaukee’s south side and Sister Agnes moved to the new location. Through the years she taught violin, theory, and music of other cultures, and assisted campus ministry with liturgical music.

While at Alverno, Sister Agnes continued her studies. She spent a summer at Dartmouth College in Honover, New Hampshire, and a year at the California Institute of the Arts. Along with being exposed to East Indian Music and other cultures at the Institute, Sister expanded her knowledge by traveling to Europe, Canada, Latin America, and India. Her studies and travel enabled her to create five world music courses which she taught for 25 years.  Her most treasured trip was her pilgrimage to Assisi where Francis and Clare lived.

In 1974, while studying in California, she was commissioned by the community to compose the music for “We Will See You Face to Face” for the centennial celebration of the community on April 28. What a treasure she left us.

In 1975, as part of its centennial celebration the School Sisters of St. Francis sent five musician sisters, including Sister Agnes, to perform for sisters and lay people who were ministering in Honduras and Costa Rica.

Sister Agnes’ creativity extended into music composition, musical performances and poetry writing.  She composed several church hymns, the Mass of Peace and wrote the Pius XI High School’s alma mater. Her family, eager to hear her play the violin, asked her to make a recording. Their encouragement and financial support led Sister to record a CD titled Trilogy.  She also made a CD entitled Christmas Trilogy. She was always looking for ways to share her Eastern Indian experience and so she played the sitar at area schools. For years she wrote poetry and was a member of the Greenleaf Writers’ Group. Alverno College also published Musings of the Heart, a collection of her poems.

In 2003 Sister Agnes moved to St. Joseph Convent while continuing to minister at Alverno until her retirement in 2008. Still involved, Sister shared her talents with the sisters, participating in scripture reflection, singing in the Schola and the St. Joseph Chapel Singers. She also played the organ for liturgies at Sacred Heart Convent and led sing-alongs.

After moving to Sacred Heart Convent for medical care for a heart condition, Sister Agnes reflected upon the rich opportunities given her by her Franciscan community. She said, “If I had lived as a farm wife in Nebraska, I would never have experienced these wonderful opportunities.  I am eternally grateful. My greatest joy has been sharing the musical talent God gave me. I dearly love my Meysenburg family and I love my Franciscan family.” 

We are grateful Sister Agnes shared her musical talent with her community, family, friends, and students.  We are inspired by her contributions to the musical heritage of our community. We say goodbye to Sister Agnes and celebrate her life in prayer and song.


Sister Beatus Laible

Born: May 4, 1923
Died: April 21, 2016

Springtime is always exciting because it brings the expectation of nature’s rebirth, but the anticipation of an addition to the family heightens the excitement. On May 4, 1923, Joseph and Rose Laible became parents for the third time of a daughter, Clare. In all, six children—three boys and three girls—grew up on the Laible farm in Stuart, Nebraska. Their dad worked the farm while their mom took care of the children and home. Both parents were German Catholic so the home was a place of prayer, love and respect for others. The daily rosary was prayed in German. It was evident throughout Clare’s life that she was raised in a loving, prayerful and respectful home.

Clare had a happy childhood. For the first three grades, she and her sisiters and brothers attended a country school near their home because the Catholic school was ten miles away. While in fourth grade, Clare recalled that all the children stayed with their grandmother during the week and went to St. Boniface School, where they were taught by the School Sisters of St. Francis. Clare loved school and just loved the sisters. It was then that she decided to join the School Sisters of St.Francis after she graduated from eighth grade.

In 1940 Clare was received into the community and was given the name Sister Beatus. Her dream was to be an organist, but she was asked to go into nursing. Because it was a great need in the community, she graciously responded to the request. She attended Sacred Heart School of Nursing, did her clinical nursing at Sacred Heart Sanitarium,St. Joseph Hospital, St. Mary’s Hill Psychiatric Hospital, and then graduated as a psychiatric nurse. Sister Beatus worked at St. Mary’s Hill for 49 years in various positions: psychiatric nurse, head nurse, director of nursing, assistant adminstrator of the health care agencies, nursing service adminstrator, and then later as a volunteer in the pharmacy.

It was at St. Mary’s Hill that she met and worked with Sister Ellinda Leichtfeld. They became good friends, lived and worked together for several years. They even spent some vacations together in both Nebreska and Florida. Sister Ellinda, being a Chicago city girl, had some fun-loving unforgettable experinces as she tried to milk cows, feed calves, and unload a wagon of hay. Needless to say, Sister Beatus’ way outshone Sister Ellinda in these farming chores.

Even though Sister Beatus retired at the age of 73, she continued to volunteer in the community’s medical facilities – at Villa Clement and later in Sacred Heart Convent. It was in 2004 that it became evident that she herself needed more medical care, and after much prayer and many tears, she moved to a place she had grown to love: Sacred Heart Convent.

Even though her own health was declining, she always wanted to be the smiling caregiver. She was a very prayerful person, never complaining and always grateful for any help given to her – a trait she acquired in early childhood.

Now, Sister Beatus, with ever grateful hearts, we place you in the hand of the Divine Physician and Caregiver.

By: Sister M. Louette