Born to Life
June 18, 1928
June 13, 1947
Born to Eternal Life
November 21, 2020
Oak Creek, Wisconsin
Mt. Olivet Cemetery
On June 18, 1928 Frank and Mary Steffen became the proud parents of another daughter, Irma, born on the family farm in Constance, a small rural family community in Northeast Nebraska. It consisted of St. Joseph Catholic Church—a parochial school which for years was taught by the School Sisters of St. Francis—a building which served as the train depot, general store and filling station, and two outhouses, one for men and one for women.
The Steffen family included ten children: three boys, Ralph, Clarence, and Victor, and seven girls, Adelaide, Clara, Irene, Barbara, Irma, Merina, and Denelda. All were baptized, received First Communion, and confirmed at St. Joseph. All attended the parochial school and were excellent students, always wanting to know the why or how come of every new concept. They were unbelievable athletes, both boys and girls.
Family meals, rosary, farm chores, and singing were included in the daily routine. The Steffen family could very well have been the Von Trapp family in Nebraska! Singing and harmonizing could be heard almost any time you passed their farm, especially when it was milking time. Everyone joked that even the milk cows enjoyed the Steffen harmony. Their voices were very dominant in the parish choir and enjoyed by everyone.
In 1946, Irma and her younger sister Merina left the farm to join the School Sisters of St. Francis. Three of their cousins preceded them, Sisters Loretta, Leona, and Presentia Steffen. All were great musicians and singers. Irma and Merina were received into the community on June 13, 1947. Irma received the name Sister Luciana and Merina received the name Sister Antonelle. After Vatican ll, both returned to their baptismal names.
In 1951, having completed her studies at Alverno, Sister Irma began her first teaching assignment at St. Alphonsus School in Greendale. She thoroughly enjoyed it. She was a born teacher. As a teenager, Irma was often called upon to watch the neighbors’ children. That always afforded her the opportunity to play school. Of course she was the teacher and her little charges loved her.
During Sister Irma’s 73 years as a School Sister of St. Francis, she accepted many assignments and challenges with enthusiasm and “gusto.” She was a teacher, religious education coordinator, pastoral minister, retreat director, home care provider, volunteer for whatever, wherever, and however. One of her favorite sayings was, “Put your hand on the plough and don’t look back.” Irma certainly followed that.
During her last years, as her health declined, she spent her time being present to the community she loved and praying for all the people who touched her life or whose lives she touched. Sister Irma, you earned your reward. Time to collect!