Presentation sisters celebrate 50 years of religious life

DUBUQUE — On Aug. 31, Sisters Paula Schwendinger and Lynn Wagner celebrated their 50th anniversary of entering religious life with the Sisters of the Presentation. They entered the Presentation community in August 1969, and for 50 years they have faithfully companioned one another, their Presentation community and many others.

Sister Paula Schwendinger

Originally from Epworth, Iowa, Sister Paula Schwendinger is the daughter of the late John and Marian (Bartels) Schwendinger. Presently, Sister Paula ministers in Hispanic outreach to the cities of Dyersville, Farley, Petersburg and Epworth, Iowa. She most recently authored and published the book “Silent Voices in the Shadows: Stories of Undocumented Immigrants.”

Early in her ministry, Sister Paula served as an elementary teacher in Catholic schools in Iowa and Illinois for 15 years. Before moving back to Iowa, she served as a pastoral associate for Guadalupe Catholic Mission in Wahneta, Florida, for over 25 years. In addition, she received certification in spiritual direction.

Celebrating this jubilee moment and the meaning of her religious vocation, Sister Paula reflects, “I see this celebration as a graced time, as I look back on my journey these 50 years as a Sister of the Presentation. Nano’s lantern has led me through times of darkness and light. I have been gifted by my Presentation community, who have nurtured and supported me, as well as the many people I have met along this path. I have been challenged to leave the familiar path and go on the ‘road less travelled.’ Through this, I have been privileged to walk with and listen to the voices of other cultures for more than half of my religious life. This has broadened my vision and enabled me to see more profoundly how our foundress, Nano Nagle, has commissioned us to radical hospitality.”

She continues, “My life has been enriched by each person whom I have journeyed with during these 50 years. Some encounters have been brief, some a lifelong gift, and each person has shown me a glimpse of the presence of God in our midst.”

Sister Lynn Wagner

A native of Dubuque, Iowa, Sister Lynn (Linda) Wagner is the daughter of Irwin and Dorothy (Brewer) Wagner. Presently, Sister Lynn ministers in both the food service department as the community baker and the development office as an assistant at the Presentation motherhouse (Mount Loretto) in Dubuque, Iowa.

Previously, Sister Lynn served as a junior high school teacher for 10 years before pursuing other ministries. With a love for cooking and baking, she found herself drawn to the kitchen, on and off, over the years serving as a food service coordinator. In 2002, she managed the Dubuque Food Pantry where she tended to the needs of many for 14 years, taking great pride in serving others. Her past ministries also include administrative assistant, pastoral associate, buildings coordinator and co-director of the Presentation Associate Partnership. Wherever Sister Lynn ministered, she always found time to create delicious sweets for all to enjoy.

Reflecting on her 50 years as a woman religious, Sister Lynn states, “Like Nano I’ve traveled many lanes in the last 50 years, from junior high teacher to working with women and children in transitional housing in both Des Moines and Minneapolis. I was grateful to return to Dubuque and serve in the area where I grew up, offering hospitality and service to those in need. It has been a privilege to walk these many roads and learn from so many different peoples and cultures. Life has been good to me these years,  taking me on roads I otherwise may not have traveled.”

(L to r): Sisters Paula Schwendinger and Lynn -Wagner. (Contributed photo)