A baby girl was born at 8:00 a.m. on January 28, 1920, in St. Peter, Wisconsin. Six days later, she was wrapped up tight and taken by sleigh to St. Peter Church for Baptism and was given the name Agnes. It was so cold that on the way home they stopped at a store to unbundle her to see if she was still breathing.
Just before her second birthday in January 1922, both her parents died of pneumonia. She and her older siblings, three boys and a girl, were taken in by their grandmother and a single aunt to their home in Johnsburg, Wisconsin.
Agnes attended St. John the Baptist School where she met the School Sisters of St. Francis: Sisters Alma, Maria, Sidora, Fredalin, and Pascaline. She was impressed with these School Sisters, so after eighth grade she entered St. Joseph Convent in Milwaukee.
Mother Stanislaus thought she was too shy to be a teacher. Nursing was ruled out because she hated the sight of blood. Even though she secretly hoped to work with orphans, she became a homemaker.
Agnes was received in 1936 and given the name Sister Osaria. Her first ministries as a homemaker were at St. Philomena, St. Martin’s, and Blessed Agnes in Chicago, and later at Johnsburg, Westville, and Roselle, Illinois. After 30 years as a homemaker, and becoming seriously ill, she needed to have less strenuous work and so was sent to Aurora, Illinois, and lived at Madonna High School Convent. Not able to fulfill her desire to work with orphans, she began preparation to work with children and adults with multiple handicaps.
She was so well liked at the Elizabeth Keeler School in Aurora that she was able to serve there for 18 years. Following that, she worked with handicapped children and adults in their homes for 15 years. She said that “this turned out to be the happiest time in her life.” She developed a strong bond with the children, the families, and her co-teachers.
One student who was very special to Sister was Kenny. She had fond memories of times such as when he told a police officer, “Be nice to her, that’s Sister Agnes.” On the first day that she went to school without her veil, she had scolded Kenny and he replied to her that she should go back and put her veil on. However, another student overheard and chimed in, “That will always be Sister Agnes, no matter what she has on her head.”
In 2004, Sister Agnes stayed at the convent in Campbellsport while visiting her sister and family in nearby Kewaskum. As a result, she decided to retire and move to the Campbellsport convent permanently. That she did, on September 20, 2004.
Sister Agnes enjoyed working in the volunteer kitchen with fruits and vegetables. She was most willing to do anything else that would help the workers in the central kitchen.
In 2016, at her 80th Jubilee as a School Sister of St. Francis, Sister Agnes shared a memory of a time that everything was going wrong in her class and she and her co-teacher just looked at each other and laughed. She viewed life as: When you have the choice to cry or laugh, you may as well choose to laugh. She jokingly added, “At age 96, maybe it is time to get serious!”
When the convent at Campbellsport closed, Sister Agnes moved to Sacred Heart in Milwaukee. Here, she enjoyed quiet time for prayer and extra time reading, because she was an avid reader. Gathering with sister-friends from Campbellsport for a kaffeeklatsch on Saturday mornings was also special to her.
On January 28, 2020, Sister Agnes celebrated her 100th birthday. It was a day filled with joy and gratitude for a long life. What a birthday party, as the whole community gathered! Her favorite chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and a cup of coffee was shared by all, along with a few stories.
Sister Agnes, your quiet, prayerful presence and your beautiful smile were a gift to everyone. Now, enter your heavenly home and rejoice with all the angels and saints as you see God face to face.