Growing up in Dorchester, Wisconsin, Sister Barbarina was blessed to be raised in a family of deep faith. Her life was centered around the inspiring liturgies at St. Louis, her home parish. During Tenebrae services of Holy Week, the Psalms were sung in Latin, and the Lamentations of Jeremiah were sung by a group of eighth grade boys. She recalls being involved in many processions like Holy Thursday and Corpus Christi.
The sisters at the parish seemed happy and exemplified an inspiring prayer life. During the spring of 1949, the sisters took a group of eighth graders to the motherhouse in Milwaukee to see a pageant celebrating the congregation’s 75th anniversary. Sister Barbarina was intrigued by the performance and by the motherhouse itself. She decided to give religious life a try.
Because of her music background, Sister Barbarina was encouraged to become a teacher/organist. This meant that her ministry was limited to small parishes. “I missed my own age group, and felt isolated and alone most of the time,” she said. She looked forward to summers in Chicago at Holy Angels and St. Martin where she enjoyed the company of younger sisters.
During these years, Sister Barbarina found joy and fulfillment with her parents, family, and friends. She traveled to East Germany with her parents to visit relatives there, and visited her sister Mary and brother-in-law in California. Other pleasant memories included Jubilee celebrations, retreats, and other gatherings with friends and classmates. She also enjoys sewing and letter writing to family members and friends.
After finding out that teaching was not a good fit for her, Sister Agnes Marie offered Sister Barbarina a job as an assistant bookkeeper for the Immaculate Heart of Mary Province. This opened the door to a new ministry. In 1980, Sister Barbarina began serving as an assistant accountant where she learned to do taxes and budgets. She found this work very satisfying and served there for 35 years.
“I have always enjoyed meeting and getting to know other sisters and co-workers,” she said. “My happiest 30 years were at Ancilla Domini, a house of studies near Alverno College. As manager of the place, I enjoyed meeting many different sisters who came and went,” she said. The group of about 30 sisters who visited or lived there were of various age groups, various religious communities, and even other countries. “I enjoy helping people, and this place offered many opportunities to do just that.”
In 2014, when Ancilla Domini House was sold, Sister Barbarina moved to the motherhouse, where she did volunteer work. In December 2019, she had a car accident, which confined her to nursing care at Sacred Heart. Though her right foot was badly injured, resulting in a very slow recovery, she has accepted her confinement without complaint.
Keeping in close contact with family, friends, and co-workers has paid off. Sister Barbarina is truly a good friend and servant to others. These are now the people who call or visit on a regular basis.
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