Twenty Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi are commemorating their anniversaries of religious profession in 2020. However, due to COVID-19, they will celebrate next year with the 2021 Jubilarians.
The 80-year jubilarian, Sister Francis Marie DeLany, (pictured at right) earned her bachelor’s degree in Latin from Cardinal Stritch University in 1942 and then a master’s from Marquette University. In 1962, she received a diplome de langue Francoise from the University at Rennes, France. In addition to teaching in elementary and high schools in Ohio and Wisconsin, including St. Mary’s Academy, she was employed by Stritch as the dean of residential students in the 1950s, and in the registrar’s office in the 1970s. She has been retired since 1993.
Of the four sisters marking 75 years, three are graduates of Stritch. Sister Humbeline Guenther earned her bachelor’s degree in English in the 1950s, and was an elementary school teacher in Illinois, Colorado and Wisconsin, and also taught at St. John’s School for the Deaf in Milwaukee. She also was director of retirement for the congregation and then a volunteer until her full retirement in 2019. Sister Generose Willkomm, who obtained both bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Stritch, also taught in grade schools in Wisconsin, Illinois and Colorado until 2003. At that time she became a tutor until her retirement in 2006. Another 75-year celebrant, Sister Irene Kundinger, also earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the university. Her initial degree was in education and biology, followed by a master’s in education for the mentally handicapped in 1962. After teaching for several years in the St. Coletta Schools in Wisconsin and Massachusetts, she relocated to Taiwan. There she continued her ministry until her full retirement and return to Wisconsin in 2013.
The fourth 75-year jubilarian, Sister Catherine Morrissey, spent the early years of her ministry as a teacher in Virginia, Alabama, Maryland and New York, and served as formation director for her congregation, the Franciscan Sisters of Baltimore, for three years. She ministered in special education at St. Elizabeth School in Baltimore for the next 58 years. During that time, the Baltimore sisters merged with the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi in 2001, and she retired to St. Francis, Wisconsin, in 2018.
Four of the six 70-year celebrants graduated from Stritch: Sisters Clare Ahler, Serena Halfmann, Felicia Schlechter and Eileen Wendt.
Sister Clare, who graduated from Stritch with a bachelor’s in education, taught in elementary schools in Wisconsin and Colorado until 1982. During that time, she also completed a master’s in education at Marquette University. Between 1982 and 2000, she obtained a master’s in pastoral studies, and was the director of religious education for parishes in Colorado. She then became curator for the Stritch Franciscan Center until 2005, and retired to volunteer work in 2006.
Until her retirement in 2011, Sister Serena spent her career as a teacher and a translator / interpreter. Her bachelor’s from Stritch was in Latin and French. She went on to earn master’s and doctorate degrees in French and Spanish at other institutions, and also completed a year as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Rennes in France. She taught Spanish and French at Stritch early in her ministry, 1963 to 1980. She then went on to teach upper grades and at the university level in Wisconsin, Ohio and Texas, followed by ministry in the Chicago office for religious education doing Evangelization for adult Hispanics. She retired in 1994.
Having earned a bachelor’s degree in education, Sister Felicia was an elementary school teacher in Wisconsin until 1971. After completing a master’s in reading at Stritch, she ministered as a reading specialist, and then, with a master’s in education and counseling from Marquette, she became a guidance counselor in Milwaukee area schools until 2013. In retirement, she is a volunteer at the convent.
Sister Eileen, who graduated from Stritch with a degree in education, taught elementary grades, and also served a number of times as a school principal, for nearly 50 years. After her years in education in Wisconsin, California, Minnesota and Illinois, she became the director of religious education in Lombard, Illinois from 1997 to 2004. After a number of years as a volunteer, she fully retired in 2019.
An elementary school teacher for 30 years, Sister Angela Perrizo ministered in parish schools in New York and Virginia and at St. Elizabeth School in Maryland, as a Franciscan Sister of Baltimore. She then transitioned to secretarial / office work and tutoring. Her congregation merged with the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi in 2001, and she has since retired to the congregation’s convent in St. Francis, Wisconsin.
Sister Cor Marie Lowrie, also marking 70-years, obtained her LPN at Sacred Heart School of Nursing in Milwaukee, and ministered in the nursing field for nearly four decades. She also spent five years assisting in the dental office for the sisters on the Motherhouse grounds and as a receptionist at St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care, retiring in 2019.
Sister Marcia Lunz, one of seven sisters celebrating 60 years of profession, earned her music degree at Stritch, and taught music and was the organist at parishes in the Milwaukee area until 1973. Prior to becoming a music student at the Orff Institute in Salzburg, Austria, she completed a master’s in music at Northwestern University. After returning to the U.S., she continued her music ministry at parishes and schools in New York and Illinois until 1983, when she was elected an associate director of the congregation for eight years. Having earned a master’s in English with an emphasis in ESL, she joined the Stritch faculty in 1993 as a teacher of music and linguistics, and became assistant professor and chair of the music department three years later. She left her position in 1999, when she was elected director of the congregation and served in that capacity until 2007, and then again as associate director from 2015 to 2019. She has also been the author of letters and publications for the fund development office since 2008.
Five other 60-year jubilarians earned bachelor’s degrees from Stritch: Sisters Audrey Mozejewski, Veronica Marie Rueth, Marlene Stawski, Delores Theine and Rose Martin Weldgen.
Sister Audrey’s degree was in biology, and she also completed a medical technology internship at St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, and earned certification as a registered medical technician. She spent her early ministry years as a medical technologist, before attending the School of Pastoral Ministry and completing certification in clinical pastoral education. She then became a chaplain at hospitals in Milwaukee and Racine, Wisconsin, until 2002, and she also did volunteer work for a Racine parish until her retirement in 2014.
Sister Veronica Marie, who earned a degree in psychology, ministered at St. Aemilian Orphanage as a child care worker for a total of 28 years. She also worked in environmental services at the orphanage. Additionally, from 1965 to 1972, she was a group mother at the Kennedy School in Illinois. In 2000, she moved to Clare Hall, where she did housekeeping until retiring to volunteer work in 2011.
After 46 years as a teacher, Sister Marlene Stawski, who has a degree in English from Stritch, retired to volunteer work in 2009. She spent the majority of her ministry years in Milwaukee area schools, including 10 years at St. Mary’s Academy, but also taught in Jefferson, Wisconsin, and Wollaston, Massachusetts. During her years as an educator, she earned a master’s degree in American studies from Boston College and certification as an ESL teacher from UW-Milwaukee. In addition to upper grades and high school, she was an ESL teacher at the Milwaukee Area Technical College. From 1995 to 2009, she also served as director of the Clare Hall residence for the sisters.
With a bachelor’s degree in education from Stritch, Sr. Delores Theine began her 35-year tenure of teaching in Milwaukee area parish schools in 1959, with 18 of those years at St. Agnes School in Milwaukee. During those years as an educator she earned a masters from UW-Milwaukee and a second master’s in corrective reading. Then in 1994, she spent another 19 years teaching at St. Boniface School in Germantown, Wisconsin. In retirement, as of 2013, she continues to volunteer at the school.
Sister Rose Martin Weldgen, who earned a bachelor’s degree in education, ministered in parish grade schools in Milwaukee, Sheboygan, Franklin and West Allis, Wisconsin, and in Houghton, Iowa, until 1985. During those years she completed a master’s in administration and leadership from UW-Milwaukee and, in addition to teaching, served a number of years as a principal in Milwaukee area parish schools. From 1986 to 1990, she was the director of a Milwaukee center for battered women. She then changed careers, obtained a certificate from the Milwaukee Area Activities Professionals, and became an activity therapist and director for nursing homes in the greater Milwaukee area. She retired to volunteer work in 2009.
Also marking 60 years is Sister Patricia Nightingale. She was born in England, joined the Mill Hill Franciscans there, and received her teacher training at London University and special education training at Liverpool University. After four years at a secondary school for girls, she was the pastoral assistant for a parish in Taunton, England. In 1987, she became a missionary to South Africa, serving as a liturgist, catechetical coordinator and pastoral assistant. After relocating to Maryland in 2000, she transferred from Mill Hill to the Franciscan Sisters of Baltimore, which merged with the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi in 2001. After coming to Baltimore, she ministered at the Franciscan Center and St. Elizabeth School, retiring to volunteer work in 2014.
Sister Ann Kelley, a 25-year jubilarian, is currently the co-director of Associate Relationship for the congregation, and holds a master’s in pastoral studies from Loyola University in Chicago. From 1971 to the present time, she has ministered as a spiritual / retreat director, a pastoral minister and a liturgist / musician at a number of schools, parishes, retreat centers and social agencies. Prior to that she was a teacher in Wisconsin and Ohio schools.
The other 25-year celebrant, Sister Theresa Wang, was born in China. After losing her parents in World War II, she was raised by her grandparents who fled to Taiwan when she was seven. There she worked in bookkeeping and accounting before come to the U.S., where she worked in management positions, became a citizen, and joined the congregation. After taking computer classes at Stritch, and ESL classes at Sacred Heart School of Theology, she became a liaison for the congregation in Taiwan until her retirement to St. Francis, Wisconsin in 2013.
Photos of all of the 2020 Jubilarians can be viewed here.