Sister Lee Agnes, the oldest of the six children of Leo and Agnes Hodapp, was born and raised on a farm near Westphalia, Iowa. In her adult life, she has enjoyed bringing her family members and the School Sister of St. Francis together. She believes that all are welcome.
Sister Lee began her ministry as a high school science teacher in Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska. She is gratified for the students she taught who credit her for inspiring them to choose careers in health professionals, in forestry work, and in wildlife conservation.
During these years, her summer work with Tau Volunteers in Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, and Colorado challenged Sister Lee to take charge and develop programs. She gained knowledge of different cultures, age groups, and needs. She also enjoyed the opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge of different ecologies, natural resources, and secrets of nature.
Work with the Omaha Archdiocesan Pastoral Council led Sister Lee to move from the classroom into the Archdiocesan Office of Youth Ministry. It was an opportunity for her to train youth ministers in rural parishes. This ministry was followed by her work with the Archdiocesan Office of Family Ministry and Faith formation. During those 15-plus years, Sister Lee was able to establish and direct rural offices for ministry resources and training of rural parish lay leaders. This ministry earned her the distinction of being called the “road warrior” who traveled the highways and byways of the Omaha Archdiocese.
She summed up her dedication to rural ministries his way: “The convent is the only thing that took me off the farm, but the convent has also empowered me to live and work with and advocate for our rural people and their parishes.” She received numerous heartfelt recognitions from her colleagues and the people she served as she left the Archdiocesan Office. They were tributes to the way she touched the lives of all who worked with her.
As Sister Lee was carrying on her ministries, she continued her education and formation with a certification in youth ministry and a certification in spiritual direction and retreat direction from Creighton University. When her community called, Sister Lee was challenged again to take on the role of vocation minister. Her work with women searching for God’s call in their lives presented more opportunities to use her skills to develop and direct retreats. Together with Sister Patricia Throener, Sister Lee directed retreats for elementary school students, Confirmation classes, and retired sisters.
“School Sisters of St. Francis, and others, have seen skills and possibilities in me that I didn’t recognize or expect to see in myself,” Sister Lee said. “When I’ve said ‘yes’ to their invitations, they’ve followed with support and encouragement.” May Sister Lee always feel that support.
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