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14 Sisters Celebrate Jubilees of Vowed Religious Life

Posted on: July 30th, 2018 by Jean Merry
2018 Jubilarians at Mass

Fourteen Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi celebrated their anniversaries of religious profession at a Jubilarian Mass on Sunday, July 29, in St. Francis Chapel on the Motherhouse grounds in St. Francis, Wis. The jubilarians represent 855 years of service as vowed women religious. The Reverend Richard Smith, a cousin of jubilarian Sr. Charlotte Roost, officiated. (To view a video clip of the event, go to the bottom of this page and click on the video window.)

All four of the 75-year jubilarians earned degrees from Cardinal Stritch University. Sisters Margaret Jo Brown and Noreen Zehnpfennig graduated with music degrees and became teachers. In addition to teaching in Wisconsin, Ohio and Iowa, Sister Noreen was a music teacher at St. Mary’s Academy and Cardinal Stritch University. She also gave private piano and voice lessons. Sister Margaret Jo spent 32 years as a music teacher in Illinois, South Dakota and Colorado before becoming a pastoral assistant for 13 years at St. John Parish in Longmont, Colorado. Sisters Patricia DeLany and Justine Peter both graduated with degrees in English. Sr. Patricia was a grade school teacher for more than 50 years in Wisconsin, South Dakota and California, with several of those years spent as a principal in two Wisconsin grade schools. Sr. Justine also began her ministry in elementary schools in Wisconsin and Illinois, but went on to earn master’s and doctorate degrees in history. She joined the Stritch staff in 1954 as a history instructor. She later served as academic dean, taught geography as well as history, and was the alumni coordinator and coordinator of corporate and foundation contacts. She was a professor of history at the university from 1982 until her retirement in 2011. Since that time she has continued there as a volunteer.

Celebrating 70 years were Sisters Mariella Boehmer and Magdalena Paul. Sister Mariella taught elementary grades in Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, South Dakota and California for 50 years. A graduate of Stritch with a degree in history, she went on to earn a degree in library science and a master’s in administration. Sister Magdalena spent over 50 years of ministry in child care and food service at St. Coletta’s of Illinois and St. Coletta School, Hanover, Massachusetts. She also did housework at DeSales Minor Seminary for three years.

Three of the four jubilarians who marked 60 years, Sisters Kathleen Denevan, Barbara Faris and Ruth Marie Soens, are graduates of Stritch. Sister Ruth Marie Soens spent the first 21 years of her ministry as an elementary school teacher, and then 25 years in various areas of service at St. Coletta of Wisconsin in Jefferson, which is where Sister Kathleen began her ministry years as a child care worker. After nine years there, Sister Kathleen continued working in child care and then as a teacher at various institutions in Wisconsin while working on her degree in educational psychology. After earning a master’s in social work, she began her career in counseling-related fields in Massachusetts, including Norfolk State Prison, where she continues to volunteer as a chaplain. Sister Barbara Faris initially was an elementary school teacher for 15 years in Wisconsin and Illinois. After earning a master’s in religious studies, she switched to pastoral ministry, serving Native Americans in Montana for almost 10 years. Subsequently, she was a pastoral assistant in New Mexico, and then a chaplain in Wisconsin, California and Oklahoma for another 17 years. In retirement, she has returned to Montana as a volunteer serving Native Americans.

The fourth 60-year jubilarian is a graduate of the College of Notre Dame. Sister Marianne Muscott taught upper grades and high school on the East Coast for 11 years before earning a master’s in religious education at Fordham University. For the next three decades, she ministered in CCD, vocational work, retreats, pastoral counseling, spiritual direction and related fields in New York and Maryland. In 2003, she began her current ministry in pastoral care and spiritual direction at St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care.

The ministries of the 50-year jubilarians, Sisters Charlotte Roost, Joanne Schatzlein and Diana Tergerson, vary greatly, but all three are members of the congregation staff at the Motherhouse. Sister Charlotte, who currently serves as the liaison to the administrative team on congregation cars and housing as well as the new convent, earned degrees in pharmacy, and worked in that field for nearly 30 years. She was also a member of the administrative team from 1995 to 2003. Sister Joanne, the current director of the Office of Corporate Ministries for the congregation, was initially a registered nurse. After earning a master’s in Franciscan studies, she then spent her ministry years in a variety of pastoral and congregational positions, including director of health care, director of personal and religious development, and associate director of the congregation.
Sister Diana attended Spencerian Business College in Milwaukee, and then held secretarial positions at St. Coletta in Hanover, Massachusetts, the Motherhouse and Stritch. In 1980, she was named to her current ministry, congregation secretary, and in that capacity, she has served 12 administrative teams.

Sister Clara Wang is the congregation’s 25-year jubilarian. After coming to the United States from her native China, she studied nursing and was a psychiatric nurse. She then studied clinical pastoral education, and became a campus minister at St. Coletta of Wisconsin, Jefferson. In 1997, she transferred to Providence University in Taiwan, where she served as the director of campus ministry until 2005. She then returned to the U.S., and has been a pastoral minister, counselor and psycho-spiritual therapist in the Milwaukee area and in Taiwan on her visits there.

Jubilarian class pictures can be found on this website,, under the “How We Serve” tab. The congregation has 170 professed members in the United States and Taiwan.