Sister Agnes Marie Steiner

Sister Agnes Marie SteinerAs a young sister attending Alverno College, Agnes listened to an address about the challenge of the future by Sister Augustine Scheele with her deep commanding voice. Questions posed to her were: “Should we teach children or adults? Should we teach in the rural areas or the city areas? Should we teach the poor or the rich?”  To each question, she replied “Both and…”

Agnes listened well, and throughout the years she has cared for babies, taught in Catholic elementary schools, and has taught immigrants in Adult Schools. She has taught in the rural areas of Allenton, Newburg, Dorchester, and Seymour, Wisconsin, as well as urban areas like Chicago, Phoenix, and Irvine, California. She taught the children of lawyers, doctors, and dentists, as well as children on reservations in Reserve, Wisconsin; Ashland, Montana; and Laveen, Arizona. She also taught adults from Mexico and Central America.  As a result, she has had the rich experience of meeting and dealing with a wonderful variety of people of all ages, both in rural and city areas, and with both the poor and rich.

In Dorchester, Wisconsin, Agnes had the wonderful experience of working with senior citizens as a vital part of volunteering their talents to the school program.  The relatives of Sisters Barbarina Jantsch, Therese Geiger, Marie Jean Weber, Jo Ann Werner, Bernetta Heindl, and others were instrumental in providing art, carpentry, music, and drama lessons.

While in California, after the death of Sister Bernice Petronaitis, Agnes became the contact sister for 20 associates.  The associates were very active in fund raising and for years contributed funds to the work of the sisters in El Paso and in the southwest. The associates gave great love and support to Sister Agnes and all School Sisters with whom they came in contact.

Already as a young child, Agnes felt called to become a sister. She wasn’t really excited about the calling and kept putting it off until she dreamt that she was 40 years old and still hadn’t entered. After considering several orders, she chose the School Sisters of St. Francis because Sister Victricia Schaefer wrote a letter advising that she should choose the School Sisters of St. Francis. Everyone obeyed Sister Victricia! So, after graduation from New Holstein High School, Agnes entered the School Sisters of St. Francis on December 8, 1953.

After 13 summers at Alverno College, Agnes finally graduated. She was so thankful for the excellent foundation that was provided.

Agnes was then sent to teach at St. William School in Chicago with the guidance of Sister Judea. The five years there provided a remarkable basis for the 55 years of teaching that followed.

One of Agnes’ favorite Scripture quotations is, “Go teach all nations, baptizing them…”  She always wanted to be a missionary, but instead of going to other countries, she became a teacher at both the Irvine Adult School and the Saddleback Adult Education Program in California.  During her 22 years at the Irvine Adult School, she taught hundreds of students from Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.  At the Saddleback Adult Program, she taught hundreds of students from Mexico, Central America, and South America. During this time, she became fascinated with the history and culture of people from these countries.  Some of the students returned for classes year after year.  Also, during this time, Agnes was asked to train teachers. 

Agnes listens to National Public Radio all week long.  In addition, she belongs to two book clubs, whose members meet via Zoom videoconference every month.  She is a big fan of Sister Joan Chittister and tunes into her monthly Zoom sessions.  She loves nature, is intrigued with her cell phone, and takes endless photos. She takes courses through the Life Long Personal Growth Program featured at Clement Manor.

Sister is very grateful for the love and support of her family and numerous relatives, friends, School Sisters, colleagues, and our associates. She is thankful for her education at Alverno College, the University of Wisconsin-Superior, and all the workshops she attended. 

The opportunity to live at Clement Manor has been a great blessing. She still tutors two students through the Literacy Services of Wisconsin program. Most importantly, it has provided an opportunity for her to work for peace and justice and to form community.

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