On July 27, 1924, a second child was born to Thomas and Bertha Werth on the farm in Schoenchen, Kansas. This precious little girl was baptized Germaine at St. Anthony’s Parish.
As Germaine grew up, this beautiful family increased to five more brothers and six sisters. Germaine often spoke of how she helped her mother caring for the new baby, playing with her other brothers and sisters, and then how she learned to cook.
School days began for Germaine at Sunshine School, a one-room school taught by a man and for some years by a woman. This school always had several Werth children in attendance at one time.
After graduating from grade school in 1939, Germaine entered St. Joseph Convent in Milwaukee to join her cousin, Sister Clarella Werth. Sister Clarella is now 100 years of age, living at Sacred Heart.
Germaine was an aspirant and entered St. Joseph High School. After two years of high school, Germaine was received into the School Sisters of St. Francis on June 13, 1941, and given the name Sister Felix. During her novitiate, along with religious studies, Sister Felix was being prepared for her life-long ministry as a homemaker.
Mission life began in 1943 as she was sent to missions in Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. Some had very large groups of sisters and others were smaller. Sister Felix was never afraid to make a huge pot of potatoes because she learned how to do that at home.
Sister Felix had to take a lot of teasing over the years because of her name. In the late ’60s she was very happy to return to her baptismal name, Germaine.
In 1965, Sister’s new mission was to St. Paul in Hays, Montana, to minister to the Native Americans. The Jesuits had charge of the mission and there they ministered to the Gros Ventre, Chippewa, Assiniboine, and Crow tribes. Mother Stanislaus accepted this mission with the Jesuits in 1936. Sister Giswalda Kramer was the first superior. So it was some 25 years after the School Sisters of St. Francis came to St. Paul’s that Sister Germaine joined Sisters Giswalda, Clare, and Benno.
Sister Germaine was a strong woman, full of energy and had her mind fixed on the task. How was she to feed all these students? With the help of the women in the kitchen, Sister Germaine’s ministry continued for over 30 years. Besides the daily meals, she was always ready to bake bread for a festival or make Indian cookies for the holidays. As times changed Sister Clare Hartman and Sister Germaine Werth stayed and served the mission in their retirement years.
In 1999, Sister Germaine and Sister Clare made their new home at Campbellsport, Wisconsin. With their departure, School Sister presence ceased at St. Paul’s in Hays – no, not really, because each sister was adopted into the Gros Ventre tribe. Sister Clare received the Indian blanket and Sister Germaine a beaded necklace. Sister Germaine treasured her necklace and still wore it all the time.
At Campbellsport, Sister Clare was full of stories and always willing to share. Sister Germaine was about looking for another task. She found it and joined her cousin, Sister Margaret Younger, in the Rosary Room where the sisters made unique remembrance rosaries from rose petals from weddings and funerals. Roses were always being delivered to the convent.
Sister Margaret’s health changed and soon Sister Germaine remained the only rosary maker. The process is lengthy. The rose petals needed to be pulled and dried, crushed, and mashed into a paste, then molded into small beads all of the same size and placed on a chain to dry. Sister Germaine said with a smile, “A rose petal rosary is a wonderful thing for families to remember their loved ones or a special occasion, and then, an added benefit, it keeps people praying the rosary.” Sister Germaine kept the Rosary Room operating until Campbellsport closed in 2015.
In 2015, Sister Germaine moved to Sacred Heart in Milwaukee with all the other sisters. There she repaired broken rosaries and enjoyed retirement.
Sister Germaine was loved by her large family in Kansas and they always supported her ministries. In her retirement years, they enjoyed her visits with them. Several were able to visit her at Campbellsport and at Sacred Heart in Milwaukee.
Sister Germaine was a true Franciscan, a woman of prayer with a twinkle in her eye and a gentle smile. Thank you, Sister Germaine, for your 79 years of faithful, Franciscan living. May Mary, Queen of the Rosary, lead you to her Son and give you eternal peace.