Franciscans celebrate double diamond, diamond jubilees
DUBUQUE — The Dubuque Franciscan Sisters recently honored their diamond and double diamond jubilarians at a celebration at Mount St. Francis Center.
Nine sisters celebrated diamond jubilees (60 years) and 10 sisters celebrated double diamond jubilees (70 years) at a eucharistic liturgy on Sunday, June 26.
Double diamond jubilarians honored were: Sisters Marian Einck, Ruth Elsbernd, Donalda Kehoe, Lucy Kurt, Dolores McAllister, Romaine Pickart, Veronica Schafers, Eileen Schoenherr, Priscilla Stork and Mona Wingert.
Diamond jubilarians honored were: Margaret Mary Feldner, Madonna Friedman, Carol Hemesath, Helen Huewe, Kathleen Orthaus, Joanne Streck, Carolyn Thirtle, Lois Tilkes and Grace Ann Witte.
Double Diamond Jubilarians
Sister Marian (Raphael) Einck, daughter of Joseph and Catherine (Miller) Einck was born in Ossian, Iowa, on Aug. 23, 1929. After graduating from De Sales High School she joined the Dubuque Franciscans. Her ministries were in education in Iowa at Ionia, New Hampton and Holy Ghost, Dubuque. She also taught at Wahlert High School in Dubuque and North Catholic in Portland, Oregon. She was a pastoral associate at St. Edward’s, Waterloo, Iowa; in Glencoe, Minnesota; and Dyersville, Iowa. Sister was the director of Ministry for the Divorced and Bereaved in the Archdiocese of Dubuque. At this time, sister is retired at Francis House, Dubuque, and grateful for her joy-filled Franciscan life.
Sister Ruth Elsbernd grew up on a farm between Calmar and Festina, Iowa. She studied at Immaculate Conception Academy, Dubuque, and received her bachelor’s degree from Loras College and a master’s degree in physical science from Emporia (Kansas) State University. Sister Ruth taught at the congregation’s schools at Remsen, Dubuque, Mapleton, Ute, Charter Oak, St. Lucas, Cresco, Larchwood, Spalding and Ossian, all in Iowa; and Midlothian, Illinois. She later served as a chemistry teacher at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta. Sister has also ministered as a chaplain, live-in home caregiver and musician at Eldridge with the Carmelites for seven years. Sister Ruth is filled with joy and gratitude for all the blessings and experiences of 70 years, and for now living at Clare House with her loving, prayerful community.
Rosemary Kehoe was born in Epworth, Iowa, but grew up in Waterloo. She attended St. Mary’s School from kindergarten through 12th grade, graduating on May 31, 1944. She was serving as a stenographer at the Black Hawk County Abstract Company when World War II ended; 10 days later she entered Mount St. Francis and was received on Aug. 12, 1946, with the name Sister Donalda. Sister Donalda’s teaching assignments covered a dozen years: in Iowa – Sacred Heart, Dubuque; De Sales, Ossian; Sacred Heart, Fillmore; and in Illinois – Mary of the Woods. Xavier Hospital was 11 years old when sister was assigned for office work. Sister served in St. Mary’s Hospital, Emporia; Briar Cliff College; in Muskogee and Tulsa, Oklahoma; Ketchikan, Alaska; and at The Witness diocesan newspaper office. Sister retired to Mount St. Francis in July 1997.
Kathleen Ruth Kurt was born to George and Barbara (Weber) Kurt on June 6, 1925, on the family farm between Monticello and Cascade, Iowa. She entered Mount St. Francis in 1945 and was given the name Sister Lucy in 1946. She served as a teacher for 16 years; as a principal for 16 years; and as a combination teacher/principal for 12 years in schools in Waterloo, Dubuque, Sibley, Webster City, Manchester, Cedar Rapids, all in Iowa, and Portland, Oregon. Later she would minister to the elderly at St. Patrick Parish in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Sister Lucy retired to Mount St. Francis in 2000 and currently resides at Clare House.
Cascade, Iowa, is the birthplace of Sister Dolores McAllister, where she was raised with her 14 siblings by parents Joseph and Angeline (Klein) McAllister. Sister attended Whitewater Township and St. Mary’s in Cascade. She entered the congregation in 1946 and professed final vows in 1949. Sister received her bachelor’s degree in education at Loras College. She taught at Holy Ghost, Dubuque; St. Edward, Waterloo, Iowa; Mater Christi, North Riverside, Illinois; Sacred Heart, Fillmore; Holy Trinity in Dubuque and Luxemburg, Iowa; St. Athanasius, Jesup, Iowa; St. Mary, Cascade; and St. Catherine/St. Donatus, Dubuque. Sister currently resides at Clare House. “I thank God for calling me to this Franciscan community which has given me many blessings,” said Sister Dolores of her jubilee.
Sister Romaine Pickart was born to Oscar and Mary Pickart in Norway, Iowa, on Jan. 20, 1927. After graduation, she entered Mount St. Francis on Aug. 25, 1945. After she professed on Aug. 12, 1948, she went into the teaching ministry. She ministered as teacher/principal in Midlothian, Illinois; Sacred Heart, Dubuque; Dyersville; Melrose Park, Illinois; Eugene, Oregon; Stacyville; Holy Ghost, Dubuque; Earlville; and Maquoketa. Sister Romaine also was recruiter at Briar Cliff College for eight years. She worked in the Development Office at Stonehill Care Center for six years. She retired to Mount St. Francis in 2007 and resides at Clare House. “I am very grateful for having entered this great Franciscan community and for all the blessings and opportunities I’ve had these 70 years,” said Sister Romaine.
Sister Veronica Schafers was born in Denver, Colorado, on Oct. 4, 1921, to Joseph and Lucy (Spelman) Schafers. Veronica entered Mount St. Francis on Aug. 25, 1945. She graduated from Briar Cliff College with a degree in music. She taught music at St. Mary’s in Dubuque, Sacred Heart in Sioux City, Bancroft and Garner. She then became a classroom teacher at Ashton, Rickardsville, Luxemburg, Earlville, Bancroft, Cherokee and Stacyville, all in Iowa. Her hobbies have been many: sewing, quilting, crocheting, quilling, calligraphy, playing cards and Scrabble. Sister is retired at Clare House at Mount St. Francis. “I thank God for my life and useful gifts. I am also very grateful to God for the wonderful, inspiring religious and lay people I’ve met on my journey,” said Sister Veronica.
Sister Eileen Schoenherr was born to Mike and Elizabeth Schoenherr north of Mapleton, Iowa. Sister ministered in Alton, St. Anthony Home in Sioux City, St. Mary’s Home in Dubuque and Catholic Charities in Waterloo. She was the first full-time pastoral associate in the Archdiocese of Dubuque at Blessed Sacrament in Waterloo and later at St. Pius X in Cedar Rapids. Sister was a pioneer in establishing social concerns programs in eastern Iowa parishes. She started Habitat for Humanity in Cedar Rapids and her passion for the needy and poor helped to establish the first social concerns position at St. Pius X Parish. Sister retired to Mount St. Francis in 2000 and Clare House in 2007. “I am grateful for the gifts God gave me through community, family, friends, parish and all I worked with,” she said.
Sister Priscilla Stork (baptized Patricia Ann), was born on March 18, 1927, in Mason City, Iowa, to Ed and Jennie (Kisner) Stork. She attended public school; Holy Family School, Mason City; and graduated from St. William School, Alta Vista, where she first met the Dubuque Franciscans. Sister served in the schools in the Diocese of Sioux City, and both the Chicago and Dubuque Archdioceses. She ministered at Briar Cliff University as the bookstore manager and after CPE and clinical preparation as a chaplain in hospitals/nursing home in Illinois and Louisiana. Sister is retired at Mount St. Francis, Clare House. “I am grateful in this year of jubilee to have ministered as a Franciscan to God’s people.”
Sister Mona Wingert, is the fourth daughter of George and Lioba Wingert in Raymond, Iowa. After a summer of working for the Office of Price Administration in Washington, D.C., she entered Mount St. Francis in 1945. She received her bachelor’s from Briar Cliff University, her master’s from DePaul University in Chicago and sixth year certification as a superintendent from University of North Carolina in Charlotte, North Carolina. She taught in Holy Trinity School in Dubuque, was a teacher and principal at Mary of the Woods in Chicago, a principal at St. Edward’s in Waterloo, was a member of the congregation’s Leadership Team, an educational consultant for the Archdiocese of Dubuque and an assistant superintendent for the Diocese of Charlotte. She retired to Mount St. Francis in 2002 where she volunteers time in the library.
Sister Margaret Mary Feldner was born in Midlothian, Illinois, to Raymond and Margaret (Cure) Feldner. She has a bachelor’s degree from Briar Cliff University, Sioux City, Iowa; a master’s degree from DePaul University, Chicago; and a Ph.D. from the University of Dayton, Ohio. Sister taught at schools in Minneapolis; Dubuque; Melrose Park, Illinois; Portland, Oregon; and Cascade, Iowa. She has served in the education offices for the Archdioceses of Portland and Dubuque; was chair of the education departments at Briar Cliff University and Clarke University, Dubuque; and the president of Quincy (Illinois) University. Sister currently lives in South Bend, Indiana, and volunteers at the St. Margaret’s House, a day shelter for women and children. “I am grateful to have been able to celebrate these days with my family, sisters in community, and all the people whose lives I have touched and who have touched my life,” said Sister Margaret.
Sister Madonna (Mary Clementine) Friedman, was born in Manchester, Iowa, to Clement and Theresa (Hoffmann) Friedmann. After high school, she worked as a secretary at Wilson’s in Cedar Rapids. In 1955, Madonna entered Mount St. Francis and professed her final vows in 1961. Sister served as a primary teacher in North Washington, Iowa; Sacred Heart and Holy Ghost Schools in Dubuque, Iowa; North Buena Vista, Iowa; Webster City, Iowa; and Monticello, Iowa. In 1993, after 35 years of teaching, Sister Madonna changed her ministry to that of pastoral associate at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Waterloo, Iowa, and continues to minister there. “My Franciscan vocation has been a gift of blessings, wonderful encounters with so many special people on my journey, and opportunities that I have treasured through these years,” she said.
Sister Carol Hemesath, the daughter of Andrew and Julia Hemesath, was born in her home in 1937 and raised on a small farm between Ossian and Calmar, Iowa. She attended St. Aloysius School, Calmar; and Immaculate Conception Academy in Dubuque where she fell in love with the Dubuque Franciscan Sisters and their community life. Immediately after high school, she entered the congregation. Sister taught middle school grades and also music in the congregation’s schools in Iowa at Alta Vista, Alton, Remsen and Holy Ghost, Dubuque. Later she combined the ministry of nursing with her love for the elderly at St. Francis Home, Stonehill, Holy Family Hall, St. Columbkille’s (parish nurse), and care of her own parents for three years. Sister is presently retired and often helps at Shalom Spirituality Center and other ministries.
Sister Helen Huewe is from Remsen, Iowa. After graduating from St. Mary’s School and two years of nursing at Mercy in Sioux City, she joined the Dubuque Franciscans. Her ministry in healthcare continued for the next 40 years as a nurse at Xavier Hospital and Visiting Nurses Association in Dubuque; nurse at the University of Iowa Hospitals and administrator of Xavier Hospital and President/CEO of Mercy Medical Center, Dubuque. Sister has served on several boards and was involved in the establishment of Crescent Community Health Center, Dubuque, and was project imitator to establish Opening Doors: Maria House and Teresa Shelter, Dubuque. She continues to connect with others to build networks and relationships that will address issues that help those on the margins and build relationships. Sister is retired, lives at Mount St. Francis and assists in the community’s development office.
Sister Kathleen (Arlene) Orthaus was born on February 6, 1937, to Olivia (Huegel) and John Orthaus. She attended 12 years at Immaculate Conception School at North Washington, Iowa. On Aug. 25, 1955, she entered Mount St. Francis. Her reception day was Aug. 11, 1956, when she received the name Sister Kathleen. Sister Kathleen was happy to be a homemaker at Remsen, Monticello, St. Mary’s, Dubuque; Holy Family Hall, Stonehill and Alverno. Sister Kathleen enjoys embroidery work, reading, and playing cards with family and friends. “I feel it is a great honor and blessing to celebrate my jubilee. I appreciate all my sisters have done for me and am so very grateful to the Lord for all his many blessings these 60 years,” said Sister Kathleen.
In Sioux City, Iowa, on April 3, 1937, Joanne was born to Leonard and Mildred Blinn Streck. She entered the convent on Aug. 25, 1955. Her first teaching assignment was at St. Edward’s in Waterloo, Iowa, followed by living and working at Immaculate Conception Parish in North Buena Vista, Iowa. The year after Hills and Dales opened, she worked at the Residential Care Facility, and following those years she participated in the Growth Program at St. Cloud, Minnesota, and then served as secretary at Garrigan School in Algona, Iowa. Following the one year at St. Mary’s, Dubuque, Sister moved to Mount St. Francis and served as a switchboard operator. Sister is retired and lives at Clare House and her favorite hobbies are music, playing dominoes and card games.
Sister Carolyn Thirtle (Edith Ann) was born in Omaha, Nebraska. She entered the congregation in 1955 and was received in 1956. Sister began ministry as a member of the congregation by teaching in the primary grades. In 1974 she was invited to help open the child-care center of Mercy Medical Center in Dubuque. Sister served 36 years at Mercy in a variety of roles. Since her retirement in 2012, she has volunteered daily at Stonehill Franciscan Services in the physical and occupational therapy department. “At this jubilee time I reflect on the words of James Martin, SJ: ‘In all things be grateful you found God and more importantly that God has found you!’ What a gift….that I have tried to use my gift of life these 60 years sharing and touching the lives of so many children and adults.”
Lois was born April 20, 1937, to her parents, John and Leone Diederich Tilkes, in New Hampton, Iowa, and baptized at Immaculate Conception Parish, North Washington, Iowa. She entered the Dubuque Franciscans in 1955 and at her reception in 1956 she was given the name Sister Leola. From 1958-1981, Sister lived in many cities as a homemaker. She served in Waterloo, Garnavillo, Dubuque, Hospers and Dyersville. Then for more than 22 years beginning in 1981, Sister became the “food service director” at the American Martyrs Retreat House in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Sister enjoys crocheting, painting with pastels, making candles, photography and enjoying nature. She retired to Mount St. Francis in 2010 and lives at Clare House.
Sister Grace Ann Witte currently lives and helps at Clare Guest House, a home in Sioux City for women coming out of prison. She entered Mount St. Francis in 1955 and was received and took the name Sister Grace Ann in 1956. She professed perpetual vows in 1960. She received her bachelor’s degree from Briar Cliff College, her master’s from St. Louis University, and her doctorate from the University of Notre Dame, all in sociology. She taught in Niles, Illinois; Garrigan High School in Algona, Iowa; and Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, North Carolina, and the remainder of educational ministry was at Briar Cliff University, Sioux City, Iowa. “I am grateful to God for my Franciscan vocation and for all the individuals who have supported me with their love and encouragement through my years as a sister,” said Sister Grace Ann.