Three FSPA sisters celebrate 60, 70 year jubilees

LA CROSSE, Wis. – Three Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration with ties to the Archdiocese of Dubuque are celebrating jubilees. One is celebrating a double diamond jubilee, marking 70 years of vowed religious life, and the other two are celebrating their diamond jubilee, marking 60 years of vowed religious life.

[ms-protect-content id=”1339,323,1059,1325,324,257,322,6459″]


Sister Helen Elsbernd entered St. Rose Convent, La Crosse, Wisconsin, from Festina, Iowa. She received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry with a minor in mathematics from Viterbo College (now known as Viterbo University) in La Crosse. She began her career as an elementary school teacher in Eau Claire (Sacred Heart), Wisconsin, and then taught high school chemistry and mathematics in Provo (St. Francis School), Utah.

After receiving a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry, she served as a chemistry faculty member at Viterbo. Sister Helen ministered as such from 1969 to 1976, then as the university’s academic dean for 13 years. In 1989, she became dean and vice president of educational affairs at Marycrest College, Davenport, Iowa (which became Teikyo Marycrest University in 1991).

Throughout the last several decades, Sister Helen has served as a board member for numerous health care, religious and civic organizations, including 12 years on the St. Anthony Regional Hospital & Nursing Home Board of Directors, and is currently serving on the St. Anthony Foundation Board of Directors. Sister Helen was elected vice president of FSPA in 1994. After serving two terms, she ministered as director of Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center in Hiawatha, Iowa, from 2003 to 2010. She served the next four years there as a volunteer before being re-elected FSPA vice president in 2014; a position she continues to hold today.

A jubilee celebration was held at St. Rose Convent April 20.

Sister Marian (Carmelia) Massman entered St. Rose Convent, La Crosse, Wisconsin, from Festina, Iowa. She began her ministry in elementary education in Eau Claire (Sacred Heart), Wisconsin, and continued teaching middle grades in Eau Galle and Genoa, Wisconsin, and in Richmond, Willey, St. Lucas, and Carroll, Iowa.

Sister Marian received a bachelor’s degree in education with a minor in social studies from La Crosse’s Viterbo College (now known as Viterbo University) and a master’s degree in reading from Clarke College (now known as Clarke University), Dubuque, Iowa. Her teaching years included upper grades in Cedar Rapids and Bellevue, Iowa. From 1983 to 1987, she served as pastoral minister at St. Mary’s Parish in West Point, Iowa, and in two neighboring parishes. Sister Marian then became retreat coordinator at the Franciscan Spirituality Center in La Crosse, during which time she was also appointed interim director for six months. While on staff at the center she taught T’ai Chi Chih and other integrative therapies. After 13 years at FSC, she continued sharing these modalities in freelance ministry and volunteer service up to and beyond her retirement at St. Rose Convent in 2013.

A jubilee celebration was held at Villa St. Joseph on May 9.

Double diamond

Entering La Crosse, Wisconsin’s St. Rose Convent from Bellevue, Iowa, Sister Gertrude (Barbara Jean) Daugherty began her ministry as a homemaker. She served in convent homes in Superior, Mondovi, Odanah, Auburndale, Fountain City and La Crosse in Wisconsin; Balltown and Lansing in Iowa; and Spokane in Washington. Sister Gertrude earned a degree in licensed practical nursing from St. Anthony Hospital (now known as St. Anthony Regional Hospital & Nursing Home), Carroll, Iowa, and began her ministry in health care.

From 1965 to 1966, she ministered as a licensed practical nurse at St. Anthony, from 1966 to 1968 at Villa St. Joseph (the FSPA skilled-care retirement home in La Crosse), from 1968 to 1971 at Sacred Heart Hospital (now known as Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center) in Idaho Falls, Idaho, from 1971 to 1977 again at Villa St. Joseph, and from 1977 to 1978 at St. Francis Hospital (now known as Mayo Clinic Health System – Franciscan Healthcare), La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Sister Gertrude moved to Claxton, Georgia, and served in home health care -Evans Memorial Hospital as a LPN for one year. She continued serving as a licensed practical nurse at Mill Valley Care Center in Belle-vue, Iowa, while also taking care of her parents for the next 10 years. She then returned to serve at Villa St. Joseph in 1989, and moved to participate in the CREDO program at Gonzaga University, Spokane, Washington, in 1990. Returning to La Crosse, Sister Gertrude ministered again at Villa St. Joseph (for three years). From 1993 to 1995, she served as a LPN at St. Rose Convent and then retired there. Today, Sister Gertrude makes her home at the Villa.

A jubilee celebration was held at Villa St. Joseph on May 9.

Based in La Crosse, Wisconsin, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration are women religious engaged in furthering the work of the Catholic Church and the Gospel. Their partners in ministry, including affiliates and prayer partners, join them in service of God’s mission. The sisters work in the United States and internationally in varied ministries, creating innovative approaches to healing, teaching and praying. Visit FSPA online at www.fspa.org.