Sister De Lourdes was born on July 23, 1920, in Naperville, Illinois.
Anna (Sister De Lourdes) was the fifth of 12 children (a large family of six boys and six girls) born to Lena and Leo Rechenmacher. She was baptized at Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Naperville. Anna was one of the middle ones in the family and, therefore, was able to help with the five younger children.
She remembers her little sister, Mary, who died when she was only two and half years old. Anna stood by the window and watched as the little white box was carried out the front door. This was at the time when wakes were held in the home of the deceased. This was a very sad time for the family.
When it was time to begin school, Anna entered Ss. Peter and Paul School. The school was one big building with one class of each grade. The School Sisters of St. Francis taught all the grades. It was during these years that Anna became acquainted with the School Sisters of St. Francis and the seeds of her vocation were planted.
After eighth grade, in 1934, Anna and Delores Gartner (who would become Sister Joselma) came to Milwaukee to attend St. Joseph Convent High School. Sister Leander took them on a train to the Motherhouse. This was a first for them!
At age 17, Anna and Delores were received into the community. Anna received the name Sister De Lourdes and Delores Gartner received the name Sister Joselma. This was a happy day for Sister De Lourdes! Her Mom, Dad, Grandma Riedy, aunts, uncles, and all of the family came for the reception.
After her years in the novitiate, Sister De Lourdes continued to live at the Motherhouse for her college years. She attended Alverno College, which was housed here in the Motherhouse, and it was only in its third year of existence. After earning her college degree, she was sent to teach at St. Catherine’s School in Milwaukee.
In 1944, she was sent to teach at St. Monica’s in New York for 12 years. She really enjoyed these years, since she was often asked to take visitors around the city. St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Empire State Building, and the Statue of Liberty were the highlights of the city.
During the summer, Sister received her master’s degree from Marquette University. In 1956, she was assigned to Our Lady of Lourdes in Omaha. When Nebraska became part of the Western Province, Sister De Lourdes decided to join the Rockford Province to be closer to home. This move took her to St. Mary’s in McHenry, Illinois, where she spent six wonderful years as principal, superior, and eighth grade teacher of 55 students.
Later, in 1979, she moved to Rockford and continued to teach and become the religious education coordinator of St. Edward’s.
After nearly 30 years in elementary education, Sister De Lourdes was given permission to move back to Naperville, to her hometown, and help her mother in caring for her dear father, who had become bedridden. She never regretted this precious time that she was able to live again with her parents.
For several years, De Lourdes was coordinator of our house of retirement at Ss. Peter and Paul in Naperville, and later on continued to use her caring and loving skills in elder care.
In 1996, Sister retired and moved to the Motherhouse. Here she volunteered to be our front door receptionist and volunteered in the Archives. Later, in 2010, she was ready to totally retire and moved to Sacred Heart.
While at Sacred Heart, Sister De Lourdes soon realized that this was the right place for her. Her eyesight began to fail and she found it harder, and then almost impossible, to read. She enjoyed listening to the many tapes available there. Losing her eyesight was a real cross and hardship for her. She accepted this diminishment as graciously as possible.
De Lourdes was grateful for all she received and was most grateful for the services of the nursing staff and the sisters who stopped by. For almost 103 years of life, she was grateful. Sister was an honest, practical, and a good School Sister.
Sister De Lourdes, you can now see clearly again! “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard what God has in store for you.” Welcome De Lourdes to a new vision, a clear image in plain sight — your new heavenly home! Rest in peace. AMEN.