Sister Mary Agnes Fleckenstein

Sister Mary Agnes FleckensteinMy religious vocation as a School Sister of St. Francis means so much to me. I believe I’m right where God wants me to be.

After my sister, Sister Marcelita, entered the community, our family came to Milwaukee many times to visit her. Before we went home we went to St. Joseph Chapel for Benediction. Seeing the beauty of the chapel and hearing the heavenly singing, I realized I wanted to be a sister. I am so happy I made that choice. I am most grateful for my 70 years of serving the Lord and his holy people.

A short time after entering the community, we were called in to see Mother Corona. Mother asked me what I’d like to do as a sister. Having worked three years after high school, I said I’d like to do secretarial work.  Mother answered, “How about becoming a teacher?” I guess I had already adapted to what a nun should do, so of course I said yes. I was happy to have had my first year of college at the motherhouse. When I was a Postulant, Alverno was still being built.

I never regretted being a teacher. During those years I met so many good people, parents, sisters and other teachers, and I had the privilege of teaching God’s precious children.

A challenging time in my convent life happened at Steger, Illinois. At that time we were still assigned to our mission. My second year at Steger, we could choose our place of ministry. I chose to stay on and now we were three in the living group. But this lasted just a short time.  Our sister homemaker left to continue here education, and Sister Noel Heisler, the other teacher, signed up for mission work in Costa Rica. Sister left in February because the school there started in March.

That left me alone in a 14-bedroom house! I asked the sisters in nearby Cedar Lake, Indiana, if I could live with them the remainder of the school year. I knew the sisters since I had lived with them previously. They were very welcoming, and I moved in with them. I had been driving a number of years and I had the use of a parish car. Closing a mission, teaching, and living in a different place were quite a challenge. That was one school year I won’t easily forget.

The years I felt closer to God were my years of retirement at Campbellsport. I think I was more peaceful and found it easier to pray there, especially when we had days of exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Many days I continued to give glory and praise to God in my walks around the premises, through the apple orchard or grape arbor, and around the large vegetable garden. I often walked outside saying my rosary.  That was such a wonderful gift, seeing the beauty of God in nature.

I feel my years teaching and living in community with the sisters were most life giving to me as a School Sister of St. Francis. I remember two places in particular where I felt more appreciated as a teacher and was experiencing compatibility with the sisters.

One example: I knew I was a good witness of Jesus when grandparents of my students would seek me out asking for my prayers when they were going on long trips.  Sometimes a whole  meal was brought in thanking me or requesting prayers. I knew I was making a difference in their everyday living. Their friendship was one of God’s many blessings for me.

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Mary Agnes, during this year of jubilee and always, we wish you a life filled with joy and peace.

May God bless you and keep you. May the face of love ever shine on you and give you peace.

Happy Jubilee!

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