Dubuque Franciscans honor diamond, double diamond jubilees

DUBUQUE — The Dubuque Franciscan Sisters recently honored their diamond and double diamond jubilarians at Mount St. Francis Center.

Five sisters celebrated double diamond jubilees (70 years) and nine sisters celebrated diamond jubilees (60 years) at a eucharistic liturgy on Sunday, June 24.

Double diamond jubilarians honored were: Sisters Dolores Banowetz, Edwardine Freking, Imogene Klein, Barbara Schaefer and Denise Streng.

Diamond jubilarians to be honored were: Sisters Marilyn Freking, Nancy Frommelt, Elaine Gehling, Carol Ann Hauber, Elizabeth Hilvers, Mary Colleen Hoversten, Mildred Leuenberger, Dorothy Schwendinger and Janet Taphorn.

Double Diamonds

Sister Dolores Banowetz

Sister Dolores Banowetz was born in their farmhouse near Sugar Creek, Iowa, Dec. 7, 1929, to Michael and Minnie Banowetz. Dolores had 11 brothers and three sisters. It is more than 70 years since Dolores, at age 17, decided to join the Sisters of St. Francis on Aug. 12, 1947. Dolores served the community as a homemaker in Ossian, Cascade and Waterloo, all in Iowa, and in Dubuque at Xavier Hospital, Immaculate Conception Academy and in the kitchen at the Dubuque Franciscans’ motherhouse. She also served in St. Cloud, Minnesota; Shalom Spirituality Center; and three parishes in Dubuque. Recently Dolores retired to the Mount St. Francis motherhouse, doing volunteer jobs and caring for several outdoor flower gardens. “I am grateful to God and our community for the amazing journey of these 70 years,” she said.

Sister Edwardine Freking

Sister Edwardine (Irene Angeline) Freking, the oldest of six children born to the late Clem and Edna (Healy) Freking, was born April 7, 1929, at Sacred Heart Hospital in LeMars, Iowa. She grew up on the family farm five miles from Hospers, Iowa. After attending country school, St. Anthony’s in Hospers and St. Mary’s Academy in Alton, Iowa, she entered the Dubuque Franciscans in 1947, with final profession in 1952. Further education followed at Briar Cliff and Emporia (Kansas) State University. Before retiring to Mount St. Francis, she taught for 53 years in elementary classrooms and music at St. Mary and Holy Ghost in Dubuque; St. Christopher, Midlothian, Illinois; St. Michael in Sioux City; and St. Mary in Remsen, Iowa. “I am grateful for my family, my Franciscan community, and all those whom I met and worked with over the years,” said Sister Edwardine.

Sister Liv Hilvers

Sister Liz Hilvers (Francis Xavier), the youngest of three daughters of Hank and Laura (Cullen) Hilvers, was born in Cuba City, Wisconsin, on June 7, 1939.  The Sinsinawa Dominicans were her teachers at St. Rose School in Cuba City, and the Franciscans at Immaculate Conception Academy in Dubuque. She was received into the Sisters of St. Francis in August of 1958, after which she earned her bachelor of music degree from Briar Cliff University. Her years of ministry included teaching classroom and private music lessons at Mary of the Woods in Edgebrook, Illinois, and Holy Trinity in Dubuque.  She received a master’s degree in theology/liturgy at the University of Notre Dame, and then served as liturgist/choir director at Mount St. Francis for 35 years.  Currently retired in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, Sister Liz is grateful to belong to a group of gracious Franciscan women who strive to enhance the lives of others.

Sister Imogene Klein

Sister Imogene (Marcella Margaret) was born on a farm near Algona on Sept. 1, 1929, the eighth child of Nicholas and Mary (Heiderscheit) Klein. When her family moved to St. Joseph, Iowa, Marcella was taught by the Dubuque Franciscan Sisters. At her reception in 1948 she received the name Sister Imogene. Her final profession was in August 1953. She received her college education at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa; Clarke College, Dubuque; and graduated from Loras College, Dubuque. Her teaching ministry in Iowa schools was in Rickardsville, Dubuque, Templeton, Granville, North Buena Vista, Guttenberg, Remsen, Ossian and Stacyville; and in Illinois at Midlothian and Mater Christi. Before retiring to Mount St. Francis in 2000, Sister served as a full-time volunteer at Posada Homeless Agency in Pueblo, Colorado, for three years and for two years at Before and After Care in Conway, Arkansas. “As I continue my journey of 70 years as a Franciscan, I will forever sing the goodness of the Lord,” said Sister Imogene.

Sister Barbara Schaefer

Sister Barbara Schaefer was born on Nov. 5, 1928, in Waterloo, Iowa, to parents, Peter and Wilhemina Haberzeth Schaefer. Barbara had two brothers, Melvin and Charles, and two sisters, Mary and Gloria. Barbara entered the Dubuque Franciscan Sisters on Aug. 25, 1947. The following year she was given the name Sister Mary Roland and on Aug. 10, 1953, professed her final vows. Sister Barbara served in Iowa at Dubuque, Sioux City, Bode, Ashton, Remsen, Roseville/Marble Rock, Manchester and Waterloo.

Sister Denise Streng

Sister Denise (Jacinta) Streng is a Cascade, Iowa, native. After graduating from St. Mary’s, she worked four years in the family store before entering the Dubuque Franciscans. Her elementary teaching days were spent at Sacred Heart in Dubuque, Pocahontas, Remsen, Ionia and Odebolt in Iowa and Midlothian, Illinois. In 1971, she enrolled in the Dubuque Beauty Academy and, in 1972, set up a beauty salon at Mount St. Francis. In 1992, she retired from this ministry and became a volunteer at Stonehill Care Center. She resides at Clare House. “I am thankful to God and our community for the wonderful journey of these past 70 years,” said Sister Denise.


Sister Marilyn Freking

Sister Marilyn (Veronica) Freking was born June 29, 1939, to John and Mary (Waldschmitt) Freking. Her mother married Elmer (E.V) Willenborg of Dyersville, Iowa, in 1978. She entered Mount St. Francis on Sept. 3, 1957. She graduated from Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa, and taught at St. Christopher’s in Midlothian, Illinois, and Corpus Christi in Chicago. In 1973, Sister Marilyn became a pastoral minister at Corpus Christi coordinating a volunteer group for the community, United Community Golden Agers, soup kitchen, social services to people of the neighborhood and served on Greater Grand/Mid South Mental Health Advisory Board. “I thank God for the gift of my family, my Francis-can family and my Corpus Christi family,” said Sister Marilyn.

Sister Nancy Frommelt

Sister Nancy Frommelt, daughter of Art and Dorothy, is a Dubuque Northender. Sister Nancy nurtured herself and her students with the questions: “What are you becoming?” “Why?”  This challenge echoed in the school halls of Niles, Illinois; Remsen and Bancroft, Iowa; Briar Cliff University, Sioux City; Dubuque County Jail; and Pine Ridge Reservation.  Having received an M.A. from University of Iowa in history and an M.S. from University of Clear Lake, Texas, in future studies, Sister Nancy continued her question by giving national workshops for Global Education Associates (GEA) on “Imagining a New World Order” and the bishops pastorals on peace and economic justice. The New Jersey Governor School on Public Issues allowed her to address hunger, housing and community with young scholars. Alternatives to Violence in prisons and managing a food pantry in Chester, Pennsylvania, expanded her understanding of the questions as did the years spent in teaching and reflection at Pendle Hill, a Quaker center of study and contemplation in Pennsylvania. Now Sister Nancy resides at Mount St. Francis — home again in the North End and still questioning.

Sister Elaine Gehling

Sister Elaine Gehling was born to Joseph and Emma (Hageman) Gehling in Ossian, Iowa, and attended St. Francis De Sales School. She graduated from Briar Cliff University, Sioux City, Iowa, with a degree in history. She taught at Holy Cross, Iowa, and Melrose Park, Illinois. In 1966, she did intensive Spanish language studies at the International Cultural Center in Cuernavaca, Mexico, to prepare for missionary work in Chillan, Chile. Afterward, she did advocacy work in Waterloo, Iowa; social security disability cases at Legal Services and Principal Financial Group in Des Moines; and Spanish interpretation for the Napa Schools in Napa, California. In 2017, she retired to Mount St. Francis and is thankful for prayer time, reading, and the opportunities to be present at community and family events.

Sister Carol Ann Hauber

Sister Carol Ann Hauber (Dolorosa) is one of six children, born and raised on a farm in Iowa.  She entered the Dubuque Franciscans in 1957.  She received her B.A. in history and elementary education from Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa, and earned her M.A. in reading from Clarke College in Dubuque. As a Franciscan sister, she taught first, second and third grades at St. Mary’s in Waterloo, Iowa, from 1960 to 1965, followed by Sacred Heart in Dubuque until 1972. She then taught fourth grade at St. John Brebeuf in Niles, Illinois, until 2012. For the next four years, she worked in the school library, did substitute teaching and support reading for grades 4 through 8, until her retirement in 2016. Sister Carol Ann has always found the profession of teaching to be a stimulating, challenging and rewarding experience. Her free time is spent sewing for herself and others, reading, and socializing with friends.

 Sister Mary Colleen Hoversten

Sister Mary Colleen was born to Joseph and Gertrude (Carroll) Hoversten on a farm in Anthon, Iowa, the fourth of six children. Hard times and crop failure caused the family to move to Sioux City, Iowa, where sister graduated from Saint Boniface, Heelan High, and after two years at Briar Cliff University, entered the Sisters of St. Francis in Dubuque, finishing college with a bachelor’s degree. She served as a primary teacher in Iowa schools at St. Mary’s, Dubuque, Granville, Saint Catherine’s, Dubuque, Templeton and Luxemburg; and Midlothian and Niles in Illinois. After 26 years in the classroom, she was invited to take the newly created position of maintenance/household assistant at Mount St. Francis, remaining in this position for 33 years and still serving as such. “I praise the Lord for grace filled opportunities, challenges and experiences down through 60 years as a Franciscan.”

Sister Mildred Leuenberger

Sister Mildred Leuenberger (Willamene) was born to William and Clara (Loesch) Leuenberger in their home in Ossian, Iowa. She was educated by the Dubuque Franciscans at St. Francis DeSales Catholic School in Ossian. On Sept. 3, 1957, she entered Mount St. Francis in  Dubuque.  Sister graduated from Briar Cliff University with a degree in elementary education.  She taught in Garnavillo, Monticello, Holy Trinity Dubuque, St. Mary’s Waterloo, Templeton, Halbur, Pocahontas, all in Iowa, and Sauk Rapids, Minnesota. As a pastoral associate, Sister ministered in Maquoketa, Elma, Alta Vista, Lourdes, Ionia, North Washington, Nashua, Osage and Stacyville.  In 1995, Sister was appointed by Archbishop Kucera as pastoral administrator of the parishes in Balltown and Sherrill, Iowa. For nine summers, Sister participated in the Theological Institute at St. Norbert’s College in DePere, Wisconsin. She attended classes and was on the staff. In her retirement Sister lives in Stacyville, Iowa, with a ministry of prayer and presence. “I am so blessed and grateful for God’s presence in my life,” she said.

Sister Dorothy Schwendinger

Sister Dorothy (Louisa) Schwendinger grew up on a farm near Monticello, Iowa. She attended 12 years of schooling at Sacred Heart in Monticello. Her elementary and high school teaching ministry was at Melrose Park, Illinois; Beckman High School in Dyersville; and Regis High School in Cedar Rapids. Later she ministered as a counselor in St. John Brebeuf Parish in Niles, Illinois. She has been on the congregation’s formation and leadership teams and has served as chancellor in the Diocese of New Ulm, Minnesota. She lives at Mount St. Francis and is a pastoral minister and offers spiritual direction. “Jubilee is an occasion to both remember the joys and blessings of the past and to resolve to live fully into a future full of hope. God’s call, which led me to the Dubuque Franciscans, is a blessing both my family and community have faithfully supported and confirmed. Truly it has been gift.”

Sister Janet Taphorn

Sister Janet (Lyle) Taphorn was born on Oct. 21, 1937, to John and Helen (Neu) Taphorn in Carroll, Iowa.  She along with her other siblings grew up on a farm near Odebolt, Iowa, and was taught by the Dubuque Franciscans during her elementary years. She entered Mount Saint Francis on Sept. 3, 1958. She graduated from Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa, and from Clarke College in Dubuque and was an elementary teacher and principal in various schools in the Sioux City and Dubuque dioceses. After her teaching career she worked with AIDS children/parents in Chicago; adult challenged individuals in Reading, Pennsylvania; and with homeless women and children in San Antonio, Texas. In the fall of 2011, she joined the staff at Clare House in Dubuque. She retired in 2014 and is still active in various community ministries. “As I reflect on my journey these past 60 years I am aware that all has been gift and that God’s love enfolds me,” said Sister Janet.