As Sister Felissa Zander celebrates her 70th Jubilee, she declares that “Truly, experiencing and following the vow of obedience gives blessings that are tremendous. All the ministries I have experienced in that regard were always quick and successful, because I have disapproved or approved in daily living.”
For the past 61 years, Sister Felissa has ministered with the Ojibwe Native Americans in Reserve, Wisconsin, with Sister Maryrose Theobald. They both serve as teachers, bakers, Bingo game organizers, gift shop managers, and facility caretakers at the St. Francis Solanus School and Parish. Sister teaches and provides the opportunity to honor the culture and introduce the youth to dances celebrating their heritage. The parents choose St. Francis Solanus School because of the individual attention given to their children and the Christian values and practices instilled in them.
To evangelize in any community is the forefront of concern. Sisters provide services of religious education, liturgical music, and numerous social works. All of this helps the sisters “envision their lives that enable them to accomplish their number one goal: eternal glory of and with God.”
Sister Felissa said, “I am proud of my life as a School Sister of St. Francis; of ministries wherever I have served; and of course, having the opportunity to pray, meet, work, communicate, and party with people I admire.”
In response and appreciation of her commitment to them, the Ojibwe community has honored Sister Felissa with the name Mandakwe, which means “Wonder Woman.” Sister has been very happy in all of her ministries. She previously ministered at St. Anthony of Padua School in Milwaukee, St. Michael’s in Kewaskum, Wisconsin, and St. Aloysius School in Aloys, Nebraska. “I am always happiest when I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. I have a great, happy life, even when things get heavy, especially when reading the signs of the times and responding accordingly.”
Sister Felissa has creative approaches to helping the community and parish gain access to essential items and services. Her wide range of acquaintances and relationships are a direct aid in obtaining needed resources.
When Randy Onstad, Sister Rosemary Rombalski’s nephew, was on the parish grounds giving some help to the sisters, he commented, “I can’t believe that they can take care of all of that! Even just mowing the cemetery is a challenge. They do so much just to keep the grounds so beautiful. They are quite the determined twosome to handle all the tasks and challenges there.”
Sister Maryrose, Sister Felissa’s ministry partner for 56 years, said, “Sister evangelizes and lives life to the fullest!” This Jubilee celebrates Sister Felissa’s 70 years as a School Sister of St Francis, as well as her energy, great spirit, total dedication, availability, and commitment to serving the Ojibwe people. Respect, care, and appreciation for everyone is the “Great Spirit” so alive in her person and her ministry.
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