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Sister Anne Abler
Born: February 22, 1928
Died: September 28, 2014
If you are neither from Wisconsin nor familiar with the references given to some of its localities and someone said to you, “Oh, I’m from the Holy Land,” you would give a look of surprise and probably reply, “Really? How come you are in Wisconsin? ”
This was the scenario Sister Anne enjoyed many times during her life. She was always proud of being born and raised in Wisconsin’s Holy Land, the Fond du Lac/Mount Calvary/Malone and surrounding area, and the home of many Catholic parishes.
Today we are here to celebrate Sister Anne Abler’s life, which began on February 22, 1928, in Malone, Wisconsin. Anne was the first child in the Alois and Alvina Abler family, followed by a younger sister, two brothers and three other siblings who died in infancy.
Anne grew up on a dairy farm during the Great Depression. Even though money was scarce, her family was always grateful for their homegrown meat and vegetables. German was the language spoken at home.
Anne, along with her sister and brothers, attended St Peter’s School, which was taught by the School Sisters of St. Francis. Even though she greatly admired the sisters, felt a call to religious life early, and saw her younger sister, Marie, join the community, Anne waited until August 28, 1948, to enter the convent. Reception into the School Sisters of St. Francis for Anne was June 13, 1949. She requested and received the name of Sister Lavina, a variation of her mother’s name.
To prepare for what she expected to be a lifetime career of teaching, Sister Anne attended Alverno College. In fall 1953, she received her first appointment as a teacher of grades one through four in Wheaton, Illinois. It didn’t take long for her to endear herself to her students and for the children to fall in love with their teacher. Being small in stature, and having big brown sparkling eyes and a quick smile, were all it took to win their attention in the classroom.
Sister Anne’s teaching career lasted 30 years in Illinois and in Wisconsin. When asked how she felt about teaching, her response was, “It was glorious!” She thoroughly enjoyed the children.
Sister Anne felt that there was more to life than teaching. It was probably the influence of her sister, Sister Marie, who was a registered nurse, that prompted her to ask herself, “How about patient home care?” In 1980, she began working for the Tau Home Health Care and stayed with the agency until it closed in 1983. As expected, the clients she served loved her and requested her kind and loving services. She had an inner peace and an excellent bedside manner so appreciated and needed by her patients.
Life still held a new challenge for Sister Anne. This time it was off to Arizona where she worked as a pastoral minister and liturgy coordinator for several years.
In 2004, Sister Anne returned to Milwaukee to volunteer her services wherever needed, especially as a substitute teacher and tutor. Sister Anne was always interested in the children and families she served.
As Sister Anne’s health failed, she moved to Sacred Heart Convent where she continued to be a loving inspiration to all. Shortly after Sister Anne was anointed, one of the sisters who was praying with her asked, “Do you think Jesus will come for you tonight?” Her quick response was, “Not tonight. We aren’t quite ready!”
Sister Anne will be fondly remembered and missed by all, especially her family whom she dearly loved, and who knew and felt her kind, loving, and understanding heart.
Sister Anne, you have spent many years as a School Sister of St. Francis being the face of the Gospel to countless people. We know you are ready to meet Jesus. We witnessed you being a religious in the truest sense of the word. Go now to the place prepared for you in Heaven!
Sister Celesta Blackbird
Born: June 13, 1924
Died: November 28, 2014
Some people dream of raising a family living near a lake. This dream was a reality for Kathryn and Joseph Blackbird, whose home was in the country near Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin. They welcomed their first of seven children–three girls and four boys–on June 13, 1924. The baby was a girl, who was baptized Mary Kathryn. They were a very happy, fun-loving family who enjoyed each other, playing all sorts of games, swimming, hiking and climbing.
Mary was the climber and she always aimed high! Once she was dared to climb the roof of a building. First she climbed the tree next to the building, then swung herself on to the roof and proceeded to climb to the top, never looking back. Once she reached the peak she realized that she could never make it down without help. Her Dad was called. Needless to say, her climbing days ended then and there.
A one-room public school was the setting for the first six years of her education. She stayed at a boarding school in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, to finish seventh and eighth grade at St. Mary’s Springs. During this time, her mother contracted tuberculosis and had to go for treatment at a sanitarium. Being the oldest, Mary tried to do her best to help at home, but the situation overwhelmed her Dad. He decided to divide the seven children among their three aunts. The distances between the three homes resulted in the loss of their former close bonds. The aunts were very kind toward these soon-to-be-motherless children. Their mother died at the age of 37, and Mary Kathryn lived with her Aunt Rose in Waupun, Wisconsin.
While at boarding school, Mary Kathryn admired an older student who was going to the convent. After Aunt Rose took her to the convent to visit her postulant friend, Mary Kathryn packed her suitcase in the summer of 1938 and asked her aunt to take her again – this time to stay. She completed her high school courses at St. Joseph High School in the Motherhouse. Reception into the School Sisters of St Francis was on June 13, 1941; her new name was Sister Celesta. Her Dad and three aunts came to the celebration. What a great day for the family! She shared with them her dream – to be a missionary!
Upon graduating from Alverno College in 1945, Sister Celesta was assigned to practice teach at St. Joseph School in Aurora, Illinois, for one year. During the year, she learned of a new school – Holy Angels in Chicago –which was to be staffed by the School Sisters of St. Francis. Now was her chance to be a missionary, to be among the African-American children. And so it was – she prayed fervently and begged Mother Corona to let her go there.
Her prayers were answered, and from 1946 to 1953 she felt like a real missionary as she taught the children to use all of their creative talents. They put on plays, musicals, and had a good sports program. She and the other sisters walked the streets and stopped to talk to youth gangs. Their friendliness averted many fights between opposing gangs. When cautioned about walking the streets, Sister Celesta would often refer to St. Francis and say, “We’re only teaching by example, and when that doesn’t work, we use words.” In the summers, they offered educational and recreational activities in Chicago’s CYO Parks program.
A new very difficult assignment was given her in 1953. She was sent to teach in Stuart, Nebraska. It was extremely difficult for her to leave her beloved African-American children, so she desperately prayed that God would change His mind, and He did. This time her assignment was to be in the Deep South – Yazoo City, Mississippi. A school was to open that would concentrate on the poverty-stricken African-American children. Sister Celesta spent 11 happy, rewarding years there before returning to Holy Angels in Chicago, where she joined three other sisters.
For her, life went smoothly until, in 1982, there was unrest in the school. The four sisters had to leave and find other jobs. They accepted short-term teachings positions at St. Kilian’s in Chicago, and next in Harvey, Illinois, at St. Suzanna’s. In 1985, they were overjoyed to be invited back to Holy Angels, at which time Sister Celesta’s teaching load was lightened and she did numerous other helpful tasks while continuing to enjoy her contacts with the students and staff.
Her health was beginning to fail due to Parkinson’s disease. She realized that she’d soon have to leave her beloved sisters, friends, children and the places she loved for so very long. It was in 1998 that the sisters with whom she lived brought her to St. Joseph Convent in Campbellsport, and have never forgotten her. Their visits and phone calls are full of memories, laughter and even songs. Life was so peaceful and wonderful for her there.
However, God was asking something else of her. Structural changes were developing for the convent in Campbellsport. In 2013, many of the sisters were requested to move to Sacred Heart Convent in Milwaukee, and Sister Celesta was among them. She transitioned into her new surroundings with the same beautiful smile and peaceful countenance that she had when she accepted every other change in her life.
In one of Sister’s last conversations, with eyes that were radiant, she said, “God has been so good to me!” Sister Celesta, we want you to know that the world is certainly brighter, happier, and more peaceful because you so were deeply rooted in justice as you modeled the Face of the Gospel. Go now, and enter your Father’s House.
Sister Loretta Jo Geigel (Agathella)
Born: May 1, 1910
Died: November 19, 2014
“What is so rare as a day in May when supposedly a baby girl is found in a May basket at the back door?” That is what my mother said. But the fact is, three months after I arrived, my mother became very sick, actually delirious for almost a week with typhoid fever, contracted by using water from a contaminated well. In her delirium, Mother lost all her memory of present events. She could never tell about the birth of this baby girl. But how wonderful to think I might have come in a May basket! At that time, I boosted the family to five girls and three boys. Soon after, two more boys arrived to even the family to five girls and five boys.
In a rural district with lots of fresh air and garden produce, I grew up fast and found myself in a Catholic school, learning the German alphabet by finding and circling the letters in a section of the German newspaper. This was fun, like looking for someone in a game of hide-and-seek . The saga was short lived, as I found myself in a one-room country school (all eight grades), and of all things, my oldest sister as the teacher, the principal, and everything else. Oh my, I just had to know my lessons.
The time came to do the big move to the city. All the family now lived in a one-flat, five-room house. What a change from what we were used to. City life had many attractions for us, especially the marvel of the streetcar. How did they work? Every time I heard a rumble of the streetcar, I would scoot out to the street to see down three blocks, but all too late, for by that time, the streetcar had passed the intersection. After some time, we learned to joyride the streetcar to the end of the line and back for only six cents, half price!
Next came the wonder of moving into a brand new house. We left our home on the south side of the city and moved to a two-story house on the north side. To us it was a castle. School also was a new adventure, only two grades in one room. With all the moving we experienced, I wasn’t up to the standards of the parish school staffed by the Sisters of Charity of Silver Lake. I had to repeat the second half of the third grade. I thought that was a shame to my family. Now I see it as a help to the rest of my school years, especially since I had begun school a year ahead of the standard age.
Our vacations were most enjoyable, real vacations for my sister and two brothers. We all had our several daily chores, but after those, many an afternoon was spent at the north side beach of Lake Michigan. We also went on hikes into the woods, putting into practice our Boy Scout and Girl Scout knowledge. There, in the swampy area, we caught frogs and crabs, built bonfires, roasted potatoes, and feasted on frog legs, now a delicacy in restaurants. We always brought home wildflowers for Mother, who was anxiously awaiting our safe return. Of course, we also enjoyed games with the kids on our block.
Throughout the last year of grade school, I was determined to follow my older sister, Sister Adjutora, into religious life. After the summer of 1924, I said goodbye to the family and, accompanied by my sister, I arrived at St. Joseph Convent in the late afternoon of August 14. Do you remember the old entrance on the boulevard and the steps leading up to the door? At the top of the stairs, my sister stopped, turned me around, and said, “I came up with you now, but I won’t go back down with you.” She added our Lord’s words: “No one who puts his hand to the plow and turns back is fit for the Kingdom.” Since then I have thought that over many, many times. After two years in the candidature, I was accepted into the Novitiate Class of 1926 and received the name of Sister Agathella. I was privileged to remain in the novitiate and finish high school.
My assignments took me to Minnesota, Illinois and, Wisconsin, teaching in the primary grades. Because of a permanent hearing deficiency problem that developed during the years, I was asked to help in some areas of work, to help as a homemaker on one of our bigger mission convents. Soon, I found myself as the homemaker for three sisters in Winfield, Illinois.
In 1951, a problem disturbed the quiet atmosphere at Winfield: It was urgent that a kindergarten class be opened at the school. With a classroom available in the school, the pastor encouraged its use for this purpose. Engaging a teacher posed a problem. Hearing the discussion between the pastor and principal, I offered my experience if that proved satisfactory. In a few weeks, a sister homemaker arrived from Milwaukee, and I was relieved of my double duty as teacher and homemaker.
It was in 1978, after 50 years of teaching the primary grades , that I retired and moved to Marian Hall where, for the next 23 years, I served as the sacristan and volunteered in the maintenance areas, cleaning rooms and stairways.
In autumn 2002, at the spry age of 92, I moved to Campbellsport to relax, spend extra time with the Lord, visit the sisters, listen to music, sew, and do needlepoint and other fancywork.
NOTE: Along with many of the other Sisters who lived at St. Joseph Convent in Campbellsport, Sister Loretta Jo, at the age of 104, moved to Sacred Heart Convent where she spent the last lap of her life in prayer and presence with the community she so loved and served. She wrote this autobiography when she was 93.
Sister Loretta Jo, thank you for living your life with us. You taught us so much as you put your hand to the plow and never looked back. You truly are fit for the Kingdom! --Sister M. Louette Guenther
Associate Robert L. Haeussler
Born: July 3, 1939
Died: November 16, 2014
Bob Haeussler was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He grew up in Pasadena California. In 1959 he married Tina de los Cobos. For the next 15 years he attended Pasadena City College and California State University in Los Angeles in the evening after working a full-time job. This enabled him to advance in his career with the City of Pasadena, and ultimately with the State of California Board of Equalization. His career spanned 44 years with the highlight being the opening of the Branch Office in Laguna Hill. He was promoted to manager of the office where he ran its operation for 10 years until his retirement in 2002.
As a husband and father, Bob was dedicated to the wants and needs of his family. At Tina and Bob’s fiftieth wedding anniversary, the children and grandchildren told wonderful stories of their childhood. Later, visits by them to Bob and Tina’s home were treasured experiences. Tina and Bob celebrated 55 years of marriage this past October. For years Bob’s brother lived with Tina and Bob. After his death, Bob invited his elderly uncle to live with them. The love and respect shown to his brother and later to his uncle was remarkable.
When he retired, Bob donated his services to St. Timothy Parish, where he joined Gary Carlson and Gene Griffith (now deceased) assisting in the pastoral outreach program. As a team, they worked effectively and provided much expertise to the parish family. Later, as first president of the St. Vincent de Paul Society at St. Timothy, he quietly listened to endless stories of persons experiencing financial problems, homelessness, and personal problems. He then would analyze the situation and would offer hope with possible solutions. Because Tina worked in the food bank at the parish, they spent endless hours developing programs and procedures to assist those in need.
About 20 years ago, Sister Bernice Petronaitis invited Bob and Tina to be School Sisters of St. Francis associates. For years the spring garage sale benefitting the School Sisters of the Southwest was held at the home of Bob and Tina, as were monthly meetings.
Throughout the years the associates have been involved in the Christmas Giving Tree project. This has been an extensive program involving the parishioners of St. Timothy Parish in which gift certificates are given to five different organizations benefitting the needy and in which new clothes are given to as many as 120 homeless persons. For years gift cards have been sent to the School Sisters living in the Southwest. Bob and Tina have been a vital part of this program.
Many of the sisters enjoyed the wonderful hospitality provided by Tina and Bob during their visits to Orange County. They loved to entertain and provided travel for visiting sisters. Tina and Bob’s generosity will be fondly remembered.
Bob was an excellent listener, a careful analyzer, and therefore was able to provide excellent advice and reflections. So now, we will remember this generous, kind, and wise man “who acted justly, loved tenderly, and walked humbly with his God.”
Written by Sister Agnes M. Steiner
Sister Marianne Nilges
Born: September 7, 1930
Died: July 16, 2014
Our Sister Marianne was born in Aurora, Illinois, the youngest of three and the only girl. She often announced herself to her brother Tony, whom she spoke with daily, as “this is your little sister.”
Entering the congregation after eighth grade, her simple lifestyle and devotion to helping others were the hallmarks of her entire life. Sister Marianne ministered in Illinois teaching all levels, kindergarten to ninth grade. Like her musical family, Sister Marianne often played keyboard directing plays, dancing, and often using her lovely voice to enhance the liturgies at her parishes, especially at St. Catherine’s in Genoa.
She prepared her students to live the life of the Gospel. Some of these people have kept in close contact with her over the years – one even visiting her these last days. There are stories of her well-developed sense of humor, even having students jump out of pre-wrapped gifts as a surprise for the pastor.
Later, Sister Marianne gave her love and care in ministering, serving and caring for her beloved father and brother, Father Harold, while also helping our as pastoral minister at his parish. Upon his death in 2006, Sister Marianne moved to Campbellsport where she volunteered, helping the other sisters by writing letters, reading to them, and assisting them with meals. A quick wit until the end made each day easier. When the opportunity to learn the computer arose, Marianne found “another joy in my life!”
Many were the recipients of her notes and cards. Her kindness extended to her many nieces and nephew whom she prayed for daily and loved dearly.
Perhaps the word “grateful” is the most descriptive of Sister Marianne. She’d often say, “I’m so lucky to have my family. I was so blessed to take care of my dad and Father Harold. I could not have joined a more beautiful order than the School Sisters.” And to the Villa and hospital staff (and myself), “Thank you for all you do for me. All are so nice. I so love it at the Villa.” And at the end, to family and friends, “Thank you for coming.”In gratitude to you, Marianne: Thank you for sharing your humor, your gifts, your faith, and life with us.
Sister Pauline Radosky
Born: October 3, 1914
Died: August 5, 2014
Everyone has a unique and interesting life history. This was especially true when you listened to Sister Pauline relating her story. Her eyes sparkled as she traced her parents’ journey from Czechoslovakia to the United States of America. Michael and Anna Radosky had not known each other until they met in Connecticut, where they fell in love, got married, and moved to a place of opportunity: Chicago.
It was on October 3, 1914, when Pauline, the oldest of five children—three girls and two boys—was born. At a very early age she learned her work ethic from her immigrant parents. Her father worked the day shift for the Chicago Park District and stayed home in the evening to help Pauline care for her younger siblings while her mother worked in downtown Chicago in the Wrigley Building.
Pauline received her primary education at Sts. Cyril and Methodius grade school, where the School Sisters of St. Francis taught. Early on she dreamed of becoming a sister. After eighth grade, her teacher, Sister Marcelina, brought her to St. Joseph Convent where she attended high school and in June 1933, was received into the community and given the name, Sister Protase—a name she didn’t like. In fact, as soon as she could, she returned to her baptismal name.
Two months after her reception, hardly time enough to adjust to a new name, the wearing of the long religious habit and praying the office in Latin, Sister Pauline was sent to Ford City, Pennsylvania, to a school that needed a teacher who could speak the Slovak language. Who better to send than Sister Pauline, who had spoken it all her life? It didn’t matter that she was only 19 years old, had no teaching experience, or that Ford City seemed to be on another continent. There was a need, and Sister Pauline knew she could share her heritage with the immigrant children. After three wonderful years, Sister Pauline returned to the Motherhouse to make her canonical novitiate followed by her profession of vows. Soon after, she once again packed her bags and was sent to teach in various Slovak parish schools. Her summers were spent pursuing a teaching degree from Alverno College. She said, “It only took me some 20 years to get through college, but I did it!”
Sister Pauline’s 51 years in the teaching ministry took her to Pennsylvania, Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois. She thoroughly enjoyed the immigrant parishes where she could speak the Slovak language to the parents while teaching English to the children.
Failing health—a bout with cancer followed by a stroke which caused permanent paralysis to her left side—led to her retirement to Maryhill in 1985
The years that followed the stroke were difficult and she often felt discouraged and saddened that she could not do more. But it was amazing what things Sister would still accomplish with the use of just her right side. She enjoyed making posters to remember holidays, birthdays, or make other signs of greeting that she would place around for all to see and enjoy. She continued to write as many letters as she could.
In 1995, after Sacred Heart Rehab Hospital relocated its therapies to another site, the sisters residing at Maryhill moved to the area of Sacred Heart which became their new home, Sacred Heart Convent. Sister Pauline was among this group. Here she found more time for prayer. She loved to say prayers in her Slovak language and would often use a word or two in her conversation with the sisters.Sister Pauline, you were a gift to all of us. We are ever grateful for your sharing your Slovak heritage with our international community. Peace and all good to you!
Sister Mary Louise Reinke
Born: April 22, 1927
Died: August 19, 2014
April 22, 1927 was a special day for the Reinke family of Chicago. The fourth and fifth of their six children were born—Francis and his twin sister Mary Louise. All six have now entered into eternal life.
Mary Louise attended Immaculate Conception School in the Bridgeport area of Chicago and became acquainted with the School Sisters of St. Francis. She marveled at the uniforms the sisters wore, and when two came together she looked very hard to find some difference, but found none. She would spend some Saturdays helping the sisters clean vigil lights in church. She was attracted by their friendliness, consideration, and overall contentment.
On August 20, 1941, at age 14, Mary Louise entered St. Joseph Convent, attended St. Joseph High School, and graduated in 1944. On June 13 of that year, she was received into the community and was given the name Sister Augusta. She continued her religious formation, and two years later, on June 21, 1946, she made her first profession of vows. She also continued her education at Alverno College and graduated in 1948. Her first assignment was St. Mary’s School in Westville, Illinois. After two years she was sent to Holy Angels School in Chicago. There, she taught grades 1-6 and held out for 15 years. She considered this experience “boot camp” and felt that she could do anything after that.
In 1965, Sister was assigned as principal of St. Francis Elementary School in Yazoo City, Mississippi. The city was very different from Chicago—very hot, rural, and with a small population of 10,000. After one year in Yazoo City, she was assigned to work for the Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi, in the education department as a reading consultant for Mississippi Catholic Schools. This lasted about six years. While residing in Jackson, Sister continued her education by attending Jackson State University and getting her master’s degree in education. She was the only white student in the African-American student body that year.
After 33 years in the south, it was time to come home. On June 1, 1998, Sister settled in where she had started 50 years before—at St. Joseph Center. She worked at Sacred Heart Center as facility director for five years. She missed the beautiful spring and the flowers of the South, and substituted “y’all” for “youse guys.” She also missed the gentle, comfortable ambience of the South, but she loved her job at Sacred Heart and called it the BBC—best building on campus.
Sister retired to St. Joseph Convent in Campbellsport, Wisconsin, in 2008, with a goal of reconnecting with her family. She always displayed photos of her nieces and nephews. One of her nephews is a Franciscan Brother—they became soul mates over the years. “God’s gift to our family,” she would say.
Sister Mary Louise loved murder mysteries, either on TV or in books. The who-done-its were always a favorite.
During her life, Sister Mary Louise had the good fortune of traveling to Holland, France, the Motherhouse in Erlenbad, Germany, England, Belgium, Hawaii, Italy, Ireland, and Spain.
Sister continued to downsize her stuff, complete unfinished matters, and enjoy the calm, peaceful environment of the rural Campbellsport community until Our Lady of the Angels Convent opened in Greenfield, Wisconsin. Sister became one of its first residents. There, she continued to live her religious life, and celebrated her 70th year of it this year.
God must certainly be pleased with the labors of such a good and faithful servant.
Sister Marcella Schweitzer (Sister Simon)
Born: September 17, 1915
Died: August 30, 2014
An event, a date, an expression can be a meaningful clue for recalling something and someone special. For many of us, when we hear the date of September 17 mentioned, we immediately remember that it is the feast of a Franciscan saint, St. Joseph Cupertino. We also remember that this is the date, September 17, 1915, when Marcella Schweitzer was born (the third of eight children) to Emma and Theodore Schweitzer in Racine, Wisconsin.
Marcella’s mother was Bohemian, and her father was German. Since they lived within a block or two of St. John Nepomuk Church, a Bohemian parish, it was only natural for them to belong to it. Marcella attended public school kindergarten because it was not available at any local Catholic school at the time, and later joined the other Schweitzer children at St. John Nepomuk School, where she met the School Sisters of St. Francis. As a fast-track student, she completed her elementary education in just seven and a half years.
Marcella was only 12 years old when her mother died, so her dad raised the family, with the help of the Schweitzers’ eldest daughter, Grace. One day, on the way home from church devotions, Marcella told her dad that she would like to become a nun. When her dad responded, “They might be very strict with you,” Marcella quickly replied, “Well, so are you!”
Marcella graduated from eighth grade on January 22, 1929, and by Sunday, February 3, was packed and ready to go. Her dad borrowed a car from a cousin, and that afternoon, she and another postulant, Mary Frances Ryan, along with their eighth grade teacher, Sister Gertina, motored to St. Joseph Convent in Milwaukee.
Reception into the School Sisters of St. Francis was on June 14, 1932, and Marcella was given the name Sister Simon, which she felt was more fitting for someone who was robust and taller. She returned to her baptismal name as soon as the community allowed it. Like so many sisters, she was sent out to teach during her novitiate and earned her teaching certification while attending night, weekend, and summer school classes. Sister Marcella was an elementary and middle school teacher in Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Florida. She was also a school principal for 10 years at Our Lady of Charity School in Cicero, Illinois.
Afterward, Sister Marcella moved to Florida to be with Grace, whose husband had recently died.
Missing the challenge and daily contact with students, Sister Marcella applied for a teaching position at St. Luke’s School in Lake Worth, Florida. This experience was very rewarding and invigorating. The teaching staff of sisters was from Ireland. While they were very strict, Marcella found them to be extremely compassionate and delightful, and immediately loved them.
After Grace died in 1994, Sister Marcella stayed in Florida until 1999. She returned to St. Joseph Convent, and for the next five years, this gentle woman participated in various tasks and hobbies: reading, singing and (her favorite) working crossword puzzles. Whenever The Milwaukee Journal’s “Green Sheet” disappeared, everyone knew who had it since it contained not only the funnies, but also the daily crossword puzzle.
As Sister Marcella’s health declined, she requested to move to Sacred Heart Convent, where her medical needs would be better met and where she said, “I can be lazy!” Her keen sense of humor and quick wit never diminished.
For her, a favorite time of the day was rosary time. She had a very large rosary, which, over the years, lost 10 beads, leaving only four decades. One day, she was given a brand new five-decade rosary, which she placed next to her large four-decade one. She studied and measured the situation for a while, and then, with mischief in her eyes, said, “I’ll stick with my old one because it’s going to take me just as long to get around four decades as someone else would take with five.”
Sister Marcella, we will miss your quiet and loving ways of affirmation, soft voice, ready wit and quick smile. Because of you, the world is truly brighter. Peace and all good!
Sister Lucy Windolph
Born: May 28, 1927
Died: July 13, 2014
Lucy was born on May 28, 1927, in Humphrey, Nebraska. Her parents were Oscar and Agnes (Burkhard) Windolph. Her father was the town pharmacist, and owned the Corner Drug Store. Her mother had 12 children and one miscarriage. One child, Gladys, died when she was just five days old. The miscarriage and the death of Gladys were both around the time of the big flu epidemic in 1918. Lucy’s parents both had the flu.
The children in the order of their birth were Rita, Norberta, Catherine, Adelaide, Gladys, Joseph, George, Frank and Philip (twins), Dorothy, Lucy, and Bernard. The children did not go to kindergarten, but started school with first grade. Lucy’s mother believed that kindergarten was for children whose parents wanted to get them out of the house, but she loved her children and wanted to keep them at home until they had to go to school. Lucy was seven years old when she started first grade in 1934.
The family belonged to St. Francis Parish in Humphrey which was staffed by Franciscan priests. The children went to St. Francis grade and high school. Their teachers were Franciscan Sisters from Colorado Springs, Colorado.
For Lucy’s first day in school she had a “store bought” dress, which was unusual, since their mother made most of their clothes. On that first day, Lucy ran too close to the swings and was hit by one of them. She found herself on the ground with a very bloody forehead and a bloody new dress! Someone ran and got one of the sisters, who took her in and bandaged her head. Then Sister sent for Lucy’s oldest brother, Joseph, who was in the eighth grade. He took her to her dad at the drug store, and she was taken to the doctor, who put some kind of clamps on the wound and then covered it with a bandage and adhesive tape. It made a nice “frontlet” – although Lucy didn’t know that word at the time – and she was able to make believe she was a sister.
She had already decided to go to the convent, when her oldest sister Rita went to the Missionary Catechists before Lucy started first grade. By the time Lucy graduated from high school, all the older members of the family had gone into religious life. The boys all went to the OFM Franciscans, and the girls all went to different communities; four different Franciscan communities and a Carmelite community. Since the girls’ communities were all different, Lucy didn’t want to “favor” a particular one, so she decided to find another community. She ended up following some cousins (the Kaufmans, “first cousins, once removed”) and joined the School Sisters of St. Francis.
Most of Sister Lucy’s siblings are deceased; she has only one sister and one brother left. Her sister, Dorothy who prefers to be called by her middle name Therese, was a Carmelite, but left that community and now lives in Milwaukee. Her youngest brother, Bernard, who is now Father Nestor, OFM, is stationed in Belem, Brazil, South America, where he has been for most of his priestly life. Sister Lucy last saw him in 1976, when he returned to the States on medical leave.
Lucy was the last one of the children at home and found it hard to leave. She had worked in her dad’s drug store for many years, from grade school through high school and through her post-graduation years. When her dad sold the store, he and Lucy both worked part time for the pharmacist who bought it.
Lucy left for the convent when she was 20 years old, in 1947. She was received with the class of 1948, and given the name Sister Luke.
She wanted to teach little children, and was told she might start there, but probably wouldn’t stay there. She did start her teaching in kindergarten in Greendale, but after only one year the community closed its kindergartens, and Sister Lucy was moved to first, second, and third grades. After a few years she moved to high school and taught math. She taught for ten years at St. Joseph High School in Kenosha and then was transferred to Pius XI High School, where she taught math for two years, before moving into the scheduling office, where she worked for the next 38 years.
After a total of 40 years at Pius, Sister Lucy retired to Campbellsport on June 25, 2007. Her main occupation there was pushing wheelchairs whenever and wherever needed.
In 2013, Sister Lucy moved to Our Lady of the Angels. She spent her days doing Sudoku puzzles and reading. She loved the many spiritual opportunities offered at OLA, and she looked forward to going out to lunch with Father Bill on Thursdays!
Although Sister Lucy was a quiet person, we all enjoyed her dry sense of humor. She could always make us smile and brighten our days. Today we rejoice with Sister Lucy as she celebrates her new life with God.