Sister Gretta Schmitz

Sister Gretta SchmitzGod’s plan for Sister Gretta led her from a farm in rural Nebraska to St. Joseph Convent in Milwaukee. From there, she spent many years on mission as a homemaker and baker in several states, and a long-time ministry as an LPN in rural West Virginia.

Sister Gretta grew up on a farm in Petersburg, Nebraska, the youngest of nine children. Her mother died when she was young, so she learned to help with the housework. She loved the outdoors, including horseback riding and fishing. One of her jobs was to bring the cows home with her dog, Rex. These experiences prepared her well for her life and ministry in our community.

Sister Getta was taught by the School Sisters of St. Francis at the parish school and began high school there, but she finished at the convent high school in Milwaukee. She was received into the community in 1948.

As a novice, Sister Gretta enjoyed working in the bakery, which prepared her for 22 years as a homemaker and baker at various convents and hospitals in Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Nebraska. She was working at St. Joseph Hospital in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, when it was sold in 1970. She decided to return to Omaha and work as a baker at Bergan Mercy Hospital. Two years, later she began her studies at the Omaha Public School of Practical Nursing to become a licensed practical nurse. She returned to Bergan Mercy Hospital as an LPN, but she was not an enthusiastic city dweller.

Sister Gretta was invited to work with her good friend, Sister Helen Malcheski, in rural West Virginia with Dr. Joanna Roberts, an associate who was dedicated to caring for the poor. Joanna was an excellent clinician and also visited patients in their homes. Sister Gretta helped with all the nursing services at the clinic, as well as lab work and visiting patients in their homes. The patients loved their caregivers.

In addition to nursing, Sister Gretta did the maintenance at the clinic and the cooking and gardening at Joanna’s home. She was totally committed to this life, enjoyed her work, and thrived in the midst of long hours at work and within the community. Sister Gretta stayed in this ministry for more than 30 years.

When Joanna became ill and had to close the clinic in 2012, Sister Gretta left West Virginia and moved to New Cassel in Omaha. She readily became part of the sisters’ community there, relating well to the residents and volunteering to help with the chapel ministry. She appreciated being able to spend time with her two remaining siblings as well as with her many nieces and nephews in the Omaha area.

Sister Gretta is now back in Milwaukee and is enjoying her days at Our Lady of the Angels Convent, after spending several years at Sacred Heart. She continues to form warm and inclusive relationships with the sisters and her caregivers.

We are grateful that God’s plan for Sister Gretta led her to our School Sister of St. Francis community. Her days of prayer and presence at Our Lady of the Angels Convent are filled with many happy memories and gratitude as she celebrates her 75th Jubilee!

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