Almost 100 years ago, on September 17, 1923, the fourth child, a baby girl, was born to John and Louise Hamik in a farm home in Stuart, Nebraska. The family belonged to St. Boniface Parish and the baby was baptized Theresa Louise.
Because of distance, all the Hamik children attended the country school, but each one went to St. Boniface for second grade so they could make their First Communion. The School Sisters of St. Francis taught at St. Boniface and Sister Maria Augustine was superior and principal.
This family lived their faith. Each Sunday, Mom would gather the children, five boys and four girls, and all attended Mass at St. Boniface. After Mass, the sisters would visit with them on the church steps. Mom and Dad would send fresh garden produce to the sisters, and the children treasured the holy cards the sisters gave them.
Theresa graduated from the country school on May 26, 1937. With the guidance of Sister Maria, Theresa, at age 14, and four other girls were on the way to St. Joseph Convent in Milwaukee on June 6, 1937. In 1940, Theresa’s sister Lorraine also entered the convent. Lorraine also became a nurse. She ministered at Sacred Heart Sanitarium and then used all her nursing gifts at Villa Clement.
Theresa was an aspirant and continued her studies, graduating from St. Joseph Convent High School January 17, 1941. On June 13, 1940, Theresa was received and given the name Sister Placidia. During her second-year Novitiate, she attended Alverno College, beginning her preparation for a long nursing career. After Profession in 1942, she continued her studies and graduated from Alverno with a BSN in 1944. While continuing her studies, she also began her ministry of nursing at Sacred Heart Sanitarium for eight years.
In 1945 she received a Bachelor of Science degree from Sacred Heart School of Nursing. In 1949, Mother Corona called Sister Placidia to go to St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing in Peoria, Illinois, to train to be an anesthetist. Sister replied, “O Mother, I could never do that, I would have peoples’ lives in my hands!” Finally, after the third call, Sister Placidia went to Peoria. Upon her return in 1951, she went to St. Joseph Hospital in Beaver Dam, Waupun Memorial Hospital, and then back to St. Joseph Hospital. She spent 26 years as a Registered Nurse anesthetist. She ministered as an RN another 10 years at Beaver Dam Hospital before returning to Milwaukee.
Sister Placidia was a very gentle, kind, and caring nurse. Her spiritual life was deep, and she shared it with her patients. She “wore many hats” as she worked in our hospitals. She was always ready to lead the way and to teach new techniques and learn new equipment. Sister Placidia was a true servant!
After Vatican ll, religious could return to their baptismal name and Sister Placidia was happy about that! She made this change from Theresa to Terese and became known as Sister Terese Louise. Most sisters returned to their baptismal names and all of a sudden, she was living with several Tereses! While living at Ancilla Domini, she became known as “TL.”
Upon returning to Milwaukee in 1980, she became Night Supervisor at Maryhill, caring for her own sisters for 15 years. After moving the sisters to Sacred Heart, she continued as an RN on the night shift and retired from nursing in 2002.
Sister Terese Louise was very aware of the new immigrants and their needs. When Milwaukee Achievers was founded in 1983 and volunteer teachers were needed, within three months of that founding, she reported for duty every Monday at 1:00 p.m. for over 20 years. Milwaukee Achievers sent her name and service record to the Christian Stewardship Foundation and she was one of the six people who received “The Faithful Servant” award and a $10,000 check for Milwaukee Achievers!
Sister Terese Louise always taught English as a Second Language. She still continued teaching until 2007. During these years Sister Terese Louise lived at Ancilla Domini with many other sisters. She found plenty to do. She enjoyed playing cards, going fishing, crocheting, and eating out.
Sister Terese Louise’s health began to change, and she was losing more of her hearing, so she moved to Sacred Heart in 2013. She was still interested in everything, especially going on outings. Because of her hearing loss, her immediate world became more silent. She had excellent eyesight and she read the daily paper from beginning to end until a few months ago.
In 2020, Sister Terese Louise celebrated her 80th Jubilee in community. It was during the pandemic so there was no group celebration, but we found ways to acknowledge our jubilarians.
Sister Terese Louise, you are a true example of Franciscan living. You showed us all how to be patient and you were never demanding.
As her world became totally silent, we began to use an eraser board to communicate with her. Her smile never left her, and she silently went to God on March 17, 2023, six months before her 100th birthday.
Thank you, Sister Terese Louise. You are God’s good and faithful servant!