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18 Sisters Celebrate Jubilees of Profession

Posted on: July 26th, 2016 by Jean Merry

On Sunday, July 24, 18 Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi celebrated their anniversaries of religious profession at a 3 p.m. Jubilarian Mass in Mater Christi Chapel at the Cousins Center in St. Francis, Wis.

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The senior jubilarian, Sister Margaret Gardner, who is celebrating her 75-year jubilee, entered religious life in 1941 as a Franciscan Sister of Baltimore. Her years of ministry were spent in education in New York, Virginia and Maryland for nearly five decades. She had retired from activity ministry and was a volunteer at Resurrection House in Washington, D.C., when the Baltimore congregation merger with the Wisconsin congregation in 2001. Since 2003, she has been a volunteer at Clare Court Convent in Baltimore.

One of the four 70-year jubilarians, Sister Beth Anne Herrmann, also entered religious life as a Franciscan Sister of Baltimore and spent approximately 20 years as a teacher before becoming a member of the New York Diocesan Mission Team. Then, in 2002, she joined the pastoral care staff at St. John Medical Center in Tulsa, Okla. Since retiring in 2013 she has also been a volunteer at Clare Court Convent, Baltimore. The other 70-year celebrants, Sisters Yvonne Haase, Jessine Reiss and Celestine Rupprecht, also served in education, largely in Wisconsin, for the bulk of their ministries. Sr. Yvonne, a graduate of Cardinal Stritch University, continues to minister as a substitute teacher. Sr. Jessine, who held various positions at Stritch for 60 years, including associate professor of English, has retired and is a volunteer at St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care. Sr. Celestine, also a Strtich graduate, is fully retired after 40 years as a classroom teacher and another 10 years of administrative work at St. Coletta of Wisconsin.

Eight of the 10 jubilarians celebrating 60 years earned degrees at Stritch, and all but one spent the majority of their early ministry years as teachers. The exception, Sister Eleanor Riordon, who earned her degrees in child care, sociology and special education, worked in child care, house management, crisis intervention and behavioral therapy for individuals with handicaps for more than 30 years. She retired in 2007 after spending an additional 18 years in medical records for the Neponset Health Center in Dorchester, Mass.

Sr. Renée Costanzo began her ministry as a grade school teacher, but after earning advanced degrees, she taught in the biology department at Stritch for 20 years. She also spent nearly a dozen years in administrative work at the Motherhouse before becoming a certified medical assistant. She worked in that field for the next five years, and retired in 2006.

Following her dual roles as a music teacher and a parish organist for 20-plus years, Sister Jane Dielen became the director of music and liturgy, as well as an organist, for parishes in Wisconsin, Colorado and Pennsylvania. Since 2006, she has headed up Liturgy and music at the Motherhouse.

Also a music teacher, Sister Joanne Nicgorski’s career in elementary education took a turn in 1971, when she studied music in Austria for a year, and then taught music for two years at the American Community School in Beirut, Lebanon. After returning to the U.S., she became the director of music at parishes in Illinois and California. She also served as a choral and voice instructor in Chicago, and in the Liturgy Office for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Since 2009, she is involved with Liturgy planning and music at the Motherhouse.

Sr. Ancille Horgan, after nearly 40 years as an educator, earned a CPE certificate and ministered as a hospital chaplain in Dubuque, Iowa, and Sheboygan, Wis., until joining the pastoral ministry team at the Motherhouse in 1997. In 1999, she returned to teaching for four years before retiring to volunteer work.

Sr. Nancy Kazik spent 22 years in grade school education, and was then tapped for administrative duties in religious education for parishes in northeast Colorado. From there, she became a director of adult learning and religious education for the Archdiocese of Denver for eight years, before being elected to the leadership of the congregation in 1979, which brought her back to Milwaukee. After two four-year terms on the administrative team, she spent 17 years with the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, N.M. Her duties included director of pastoral ministries, director of the office of religious, editor of the diocesan paper, and case manager for sex abuse. Since her retirement in 2005, she has remained in Albuquerque where she serves on various boards and committees.

After teaching primary grades in Wisconsin and Minnesota for 17 years, Sister Mary Ann Schroedl changed to pastoral ministry in 1977. She has continued to serve in that capacity to the present day, currently for a Milwaukee-area parish.

Sr. Ann Lawrence Kolbeck, spent the first 22 years of her teaching career in special education in Wisconsin, Illinois, Massachusetts and California. She then served as a primary teacher, principal and parish minister at St. Benedict School, Montebello, Calif., for 23 years. Returning to Wisconsin in 2000, she was an assistant at the Motherhouse and a part-time teacher until her retirement to volunteer work in 2004.

Sister Rita Kosednar earned her degree in education at DePaul University, Chicago, and she taught primary grades in Wisconsin and Illinois until 1975. At that time, she began administrative and supervisory work at the Motherhouse complex, including physical plant administrator and supervisor of congregation houses and cars. She continues to serve in the latter capacity. From 2005 to 2013, she also did home care support for Catholic Charities of Milwaukee.

Sister Leo Marie Schiltgen, who had business training before entering the congregation, ministered in clerical work and business management in the Milwaukee area for 60 years. She served at St. Mary’s Academy, St. Francis Convent, the Archbishop’s residence, Cardinal Stritch University and Clare Hall, before retiring in 2015.

Sisters Rebecca Burke, Florence Deacon and Joyanne Mueller are the 50-year jubilarians. Sr. Rebecca, who earned degrees in English, special education, and curriculum supervision, worked as a teacher and in a variety of positions in education administration until 2000. After that time, she held administrative positions with the Franciscan Federation and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and was the Delegate for Consecrated Life for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. She retired in 2012.

After earning her bachelor’s degree at Stritch, Sr. Florence was a junior high teacher for eight years, before getting her master’s degree in history in 1978, and then a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She then joined the Stritch history department, eventually becoming the chair of the history and social studies departments and the professor of history and political science. In 2001, she accepted the position of director of Franciscans International in New York. After spending a year as the justice coordinator for a congregation in Pennsylvania, she was elected director of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi in 2007, a position she held for eight years. During that time, she was also elected as the 2012-13 president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

With bachelor’s and master’s degrees in speech, Sr. Joyanne Mueller’s early ministries were in speech and language pathology, both at schools for persons with disabilities and as an adjunct faculty member at Stritch. After earning a master’s in spirituality in 1982, she began her work in formation, retreat services, spiritual development and elder care, including a return to the adjunct faculty at Stritch as a mentor and retreat/spiritual director. She also ministered at Bon Secours Spiritual Center in Maryland and Emmaus House in Iowa. She retired to volunteer driving, tutoring and spirituality work in 2012.

More jubilee information and photos will be available on the congregation website,, on August 5. The congregation has approximately 200 professed members across the United States.