Sister Patricia Throener

Sister Patricia ThroenerI grew up on a farm in Dodge, Nebraska, the eldest of four children of Charles and Clara Throener. I went to St. Wenceslaus School, where I was taught by the Notre Dame sisters. After eighth grade, I went to the all-girls Assumption Academy in Norfolk, Nebraska, which was staffed by the Missionary Benedictine Sisters. The school was 60 miles from home, so it was five days at the academy and home on the weekends.

After completing high school, I went to Briar Cliff College in Sioux City, Iowa, where I was taught by the Dubuque Franciscans. I got to know three different communities of women religious before the School Sisters of St. Francis.

After the first year of college, I decided to tell my mother I’d like to be a Sister. My mother told me to choose the School Sisters of St. Francis. Sister Lauriana was my mother’s sister, so I didn’t think that was such a bad idea! So off to Milwaukee I went by train in 1963.

After teaching 15 years, I was asked to consider educational administration. Sister Leta Heese said, “Let’s go to Creighton University and visit with Dr. O’Conner.” I began classes while teaching part time and was able to get my master’s degree in a year and a half.

I worked as an administrator in many small rural schools in Nebraska. It was a wonderful time in my life. Being a part of small rural communities was so rewarding!

In 1997, while in Petersburg, Nebraska, I received the archdiocesan administrator of the year award. Being an administrator was a significant time in my ministry. I loved working with students, but working with teachers made me realize there were teachers that needed to be encouraged to become administrators. I look back now with pride that I mentored these teachers into educational administration. One teacher, after receiving her degree in administration, became an assistant in Omaha archdiocesan education office.

My best memory as a young educator was student teaching at St. Rita School, but it was also the occasion of my worst memory! I was told I needed to have the class ready at the end of the day. After dismissal, I was to lock the classroom and take the bus back to Alverno because my supervising teacher had a doctor’s appointment. So I followed directions and found the bus stop but when my destination came near Alverno, rain was coming down heavily. I walked across the parking lot in my long habit and got soaked up to my knees! I must have looked a sight when Sister Johannella saw me. I think she felt sorry for me and was very understanding.

After years of working in the rural area and being a vocation minister for five years, I am now back in Milwaukee at Sacred Heart. I look out my window and can see Lake Michigan in the distance but I still miss seeing the cornfields of Nebraska in my backyard!

My life’s journey has taken me many places. The adjustments weren’t always easy, but I am thankful I was mentored by community and family to go wherever the Lord would take me.

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