Seventeen BVMs to celebrate 70th jubilees

Seventeen Diamond Jubilarians will celebrate 70 years in religious life with the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They will gather virtually from the Mount Carmel Motherhouse Chapel in Dubuque, Iowa, on Sept. 13, 2020, for a liturgy of thanksgiving. You are invited to watch the 10:30 a.m. Mass live at bvmsisters.org/2020-jubilarians.

Unless otherwise noted, the sisters are retired and living at Mount Carmel.

The following entered the BVM congregation in February 1950. They professed first vows on Aug. 15, 1952, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1957.

Sister Patricia Ann (Marjorie) Donahoe, BVM was born in Des Moines, Iowa.

Sr. Patricia Donahoe

Sister taught elementary school at Mount Carmel in Wichita, Kansas; Presentation in Chicago and St. Patrick/Carroll Catholic in Lincoln, Illinois; St. Therese in Kansas City, Missouri; Holy Family in Mason City, Iowa; and Brooks Elementary in Des Moines, Iowa.

She was a librarian at Mundelein College and Loyola University, both in Chicago, and Loyola Notre Dame Library in Baltimore. She volunteers at the Mount Carmel library.

She has learned that even in a tough spot when you wonder how things can work out, “God is with you all the way.

“What surprises me my whole life is that I was taking a stand on things that were wrong, and I said so, even though my stomach was churning,” she says.


Sr. Theresa McNerney

Sister Theresa (Grace Michele) McNerney, BVM was born in Seattle.

Sister taught for 50 years at Our Lady of Lourdes in Tujunga, St. Patrick in Carlsbad, Holy Redeemer in Montrose, all in California; Harrison, Fourth Street School, Victoria Avenue School, San Miguel, St. Matthias, Wilmington Middle School, all in Los Angeles; St. Frances Xavier in Phoenix; Our Lady of Angels in Chicago; and Christ the King in Seattle. She was principal at Assumption School in Los Angeles. She’s been an ombudsman for the elderly and delivered Meals on Wheels.

“I spent my whole life working for justice. I will continue to do it as long as there are injustices going on and people can’t talk for themselves,” she says.

Sr. Mary Janine Wolff

Sister Mary Janine Wolff, BVM was born in Chicago and her hometown is Mayville, Illinois.

Sister taught in elementary schools for almost 30 years at St. Patrick in Iowa City, St. Paul in Davenport, St. Mary in Clinton, St. Patrick in Cedar Rapids, St. Anthony in Dubuque, all in Iowa; Incarnation in Glendale, California; and St. Agatha and Holy Cross in Chicago. Then she served in parish ministry.

Now in retirement, sister enjoys photographing nature to create cards. She offers the cards to others for donations towards the BVM Hunger Fund.

“I have learned that I am in God’s hands and my Creator isn’t finished with me yet,” she says.

The following entered the BVM congregation on Sept. 8, 1950. They professed first vows on March 19, 1953, and final vows July 16, 1958.

Sr. Julie O’Neill

Sister Julie O’Neill, BVM was born in San Francisco.

Sister taught at Our Lady Help of Christians and Annunciation in Chicago; All Saints in Tucson, Arizona; St. Charles in North Hollywood, St. Patrick in Carlsbad, Our Lady of Lourdes in Tujunga, St. Anne in Santa Ana, St. Thomas More and St. Paul in San Francisco, St. Vincent in Petaluma, and St. Rose in Santa Rosa, all in California. She served in parish ministry in San Francisco.

She keeps an empty white vessel, which is very symbolic and meaningful to her, in her room. “For a long time, I thought my job was to work hard and do things to keep filling it up, rather than letting it be empty. Unless it’s empty, God can’t fill it,” Julie says.

Sr. Catherine Walsh

Sister Catherina Walsh, BVM is a Dubuque, Iowa, native.

Sister taught at St. Patrick in Dubuque; St. Dorothy and St. Dominic in Chicago; St. Joseph and Sacred Heart in Rock Island, Illinois; Corpus Christi in Fort Dodge, Iowa; St. Anthony in Casper, Wyoming; Cathedral in Rapid City, South Dakota.

“I’ve been very fortunate and I’ve been very happy,” Catherina says. “It’s been wonderful, the whole spirit that we have. You are made to feel like you are sisters.”


Sr. Audrey Juergens

Sister Audrey (Raymond Ann) Juergens, BVM was born in St. Louis.

Sister taught at St. Francis Xavier High School in Phoenix; Incarnation in Glendale, Most Holy Redeemer in Montrose, St. Catherine Siena in Reseda, and St. Theresa in Palm Springs, all in California; and Carroll Catholic in Lincoln, Illinois She was also assistant postulant and novice mistress at Mount Carmel, associate administrator at Marian Hall, and assistant administrator at Wright Hall, a BVM residence in Chicago. She also ministered for an arts in education program and ministered in outreach for St. Joseph Catholic Community Services in St. Louis.

“I have two great loves in my life: my family and my community. I do love them dearly and I can’t imagine life without them,” Audrey says.

Sr. Terese Shinners

Sister Terese (Ellena) Shinners, BVM was born in Milwaukee.

Sister taught at St. Jerome in Chicago and Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein, Illinois, where she was also registrar; St. Anthony in Casper, Wyoming; Xavier in St. Louis; Mount Carmel Academy in Wichita, Kansas; and Holy Angels Academy in Milwaukee. She also ministered as a writer and editor for Weekly Reader Publications in Northbrook, Illinois. She lives in Wisconsin.

“The prayer, friendship and example of my BVM sisters has been an inspiration,” Terese says. “The breadth of involvements and commitments of our sisters enriches and challenges us all. This continued to educate us and connect us to wider communities than our own.”


Sr. Jean Beste

Sister Jean Beste, BVM was born in Melrose, Minnesota, and grew up in Milwaukee.

Sister taught or was principal at St. Matthew in Phoenix; Holy Redeemer in Montrose, California; Annunciation in Chicago; and Christ the King and St. Therese in Kansas City, Missouri. She was a community organizer and director of office of personnel and planning and vice chancellor for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

“I am so happy I had the opportunity to do all these things, which I never would have had I not become a BVM,” Jean says. “I am so grateful to have chosen the BVMs.”


Sr. Therese Macklin

Sister Therese (Jeremy) Mackin, BVM was born in St. Anthony, Iowa.

At Clarke University in Dubuque, Sister served as a teacher in the speech and drama department, dean of students, director of planned giving, development coordinator, vice president of institutional advancement, and executive vice president. She also taught at St. Francis Xavier in Council Bluffs and St. Anthony in Dubuque, Iowa; Sacred Heart in Boulder, Colorado; and St. Bridget in Omaha, Nebraska.

Being a BVM has been “my whole life,” Therese says.


Sr. Carol Cook

Sister Carol (Conrad Ann) Cook, BVM was born in Milwaukee.

Sister taught at Sacred Heart in Rock Island and Holy Cross in Chicago, Illinois.; St. Augustine in Memphis, Tennessee; Immaculate Conception in Clarksdale, Mississippi; St. Paul in Davenport, Iowa; and Trinidad Catholic High School in Colorado. She also was director of services to the elderly in California, ministered at the 8th Day Center for Justice and Sarah’s Circle in Chicago, and served on the National Farm Worker Ministry board.

“I love that value of freedom. I love how we (BVMs) make decisions collectively. I like the idea of support for individual decisions, which I think is unique to our community,” Carol says. “Through the congregation, I found the opportunity to see how wonderful people are.”

Sr. Joanne Schneider

Sister Joanne (Joeline) Schneider, BVM was born in Milwaukee.

Sister taught at Holy Redeemer in Montrose, St. Philip in Pasadena, and St. Patrick in Carlsbad, California; St. Agnes in Phoenix; St. Mary in Pontiac, Illinois; St. James in Washington, Iowa; and Catholic Elementary in Milwaukee.

“I surprised myself by finding out that I could do things I never dreamed I could do. I found out I had other talents I didn’t know anything about,” she says.


Sr. Emelyn Malecki

Sister Emelyn Malecki, BVM was born in Chicago, where she lives now.

Sister taught or was principal at St. Odilo in Berwyn, Illinois; Annunciation, Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Sylvester, and St. Tarcissus in Chicago; and St. Patrick in Iowa City, Iowa.

“My retirement for me is having time for a deeper prayer life,” Emelyn says. “Being a BVM has given me a great second family that cares for each other with much love. The bond is there. To me it has brought me closer to spiritual life and to God.”

Sr. Sue Effinger

Sister Sue (Frances Carol) Effinger, BVM was born in Milwaukee.

Sister taught or was principal at Incarnation in Glendale, California; Presentation, St. Eugene, St. Dorothy, and Holy Cross in Chicago; St. Joseph in Round Lake, and Lake Shore Catholic Academy in Waukegan, both in Illinois; St. Timothy in St. Louis; and St. Catherine and St. Therese in Kansas City, Missouri. Later she was an adult literacy instructor in Milwaukee.

She met BVMs as a first grade student. “I realized what a great group the BVMs were. I could tell they were happy and they were fun. That just appealed to me. I didn’t even consider any other congregation,” Sue says.


Sr. Mary Frances Reis

Sister Mary Frances (Paul Adele) Reis, BVM was born in St. Louis, and lives in Missouri now.

Sister taught at Christ the King in Kansas City, Missouri; St. Agnes in Phoenix; and Incarnation in Glendale, California. She was principal at St. Timothy in St Louis. She ministered for the BVM congregation. In Missouri, she served Catholic Bootheel Ministry, in pastoral and campus ministry, and as a hospital chaplain.

“I like to think of religious life as an adventure — a great, unfathomable adventure with God that continues even as I age,” Mary Frances says.


Sr. Rosalie Glanz

Sister Rosalie (Victor Ann) Glanz, BVM was born in Milwaukee.

Sister taught Spanish, English, and history at Bellarmine in Burbank, California; Mount Carmel in Wichita, Kansas; All Saints in Tucson, Arizona; O’Hara Memorial High School in Kansas City, Missouri; and Carmel Catholic in Mundelein, Illinois. She also volunteered for Service/Empowerment/Transformation (SET) Ministry in Milwaukee.

“I taught in three BVM high schools and two diocesan high schools. The most surprising and interesting was helping to open Archbishop O’Hara High School in Kansas City, Missouri., along with four more BVMs and three De La Salle Christian brothers.”


Sr. Mary O’Connor

Sister Mary M. (Bertille) O’Connor, BVM was born in Des Moines, Iowa.

Sister taught second, third, and sixth grade at St. Tarcissus, Our Lady of Angels, and St. Agatha in Chicago; St. John in Seattle; St. Catherine in Kauai, Hawaii; and St. Patrick in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She served in parish ministry and religious education at St. Anne in East Moline, Illinois.

“As I look back, all of these experiences helped me to grow up and appreciate the small things in life,” she said. “There was something favorite about each mission.”


Sr. Rosemunda Besch

Sister Rosemunda Besch, BVM was born in Sioux City, Iowa.

Sister taught at St. Catherine and St. Aloysius in Kansas City, Missouri.; St. Bernard in Los Angeles; Our Lady of Help Christians and St. Vincent in Chicago; St. Bridget in Omaha, Nebraska; St. John-St. Andrew in Meire Grove, Minnesota; and Sacred Heart in Boone and St. Michael in Sioux City, Iowa.

“It’s been wonderful. I keep thanking God I belong to the BVM congregation,” she says. “There are so many wonderful sisters, and all the good we do as a community” is a blessing.