Sister Marguerite Bruening (Phyllis), a native of Maple River, Iowa, ministered for 43 years in elementary education in Wisconsin, Iowa and Montana. For seven years she served the community of Durand as a tutor, remedial teacher and parish visitor. Moving to La Crosse in 1998, Sister Marguerite volunteered at St. Joseph’s Rehab Center and Franciscan Skemp Healthcare before retiring to Villa St. Joseph in 2018.
Born in Carroll, Iowa, Sister Rita Heires (Marylita) ministered as a teacher, principal and librarian in Wisconsin, Washington, Utah and Iowa for 44 years. She went on to serve in Iowa as FSPA Central Province and Central Region treasurer, English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor and RCIA team member as well as a volunteer at Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center, Mercy Medical Center and Community Free Health Clinic. Sister Rita now ministers in prayer, hospitality and as a proofreader for FSPA’s “Perspectives” magazine.
Sister Mary Ann Gaul (Camilla) entered FSPA from Luxemburg, Iowa. Her many ministries included convent homemaking (Iowa and Wisconsin), administrative support (Viterbo University, La Crosse), facilities manager and training administrator (Minneapolis-St. Paul), business and district heating plant administrator (St. Rose Convent, La Crosse) and property management and tailoring (Richfield, Minnesota). In La Crosse, Sister Mary Ann served Villa St. Joseph as a seamstress and driver until her retirement there in 2021.
Born in Keyesville, Wis., Sister Mary Ellen Huebsch (Gloria) served the ministry of education from 1955 to 1997 as a primary school teacher in Wisconsin and Montana, a remedial education teacher in Kentucky and a literacy teacher and tutor in California. Returning to Wisconsin, she tutored in literacy intervention programs in River Falls and Ellsworth. In La Crosse she served the FSPA ministry of formation at Chiara House and now in hospitality and prayer at St. Rose Convent.
Sister LaVerne Ramaeker (Mary), born in Lindsay, Neb., ministered in radiologic sciences as chief technologist at St. Anthony in Carroll, program director and chief technologist at Sacred Heart in Idaho Falls, program director at St. Francis School of Radiologic Technology in La Crosse, faculty and department chair of radiologic sciences at Chicago Medical School and chair and tenured associate professor at Indiana University’s Division of Allied Health Sciences. In retirement she volunteered as a grant researcher and ElderCare driver. She now resides in La Crosse.
A native of Coon Valley, Wis., Sister Carol Arenz (Mary Allen) ministered in domestic service in Wisconsin (St. Rose Convent and Villa St. Joseph in La Crosse) and Iowa, as an assistant group mother in La Crosse (St. Michael’s Home), in Washington, North Dakota and Wyoming, in social services in Oklahoma and in food service in La Crosse (Viterbo College and St. Rose Convent) and Missouri. In retirement, Sister Carol is a long-distance driver for FSPA.
Sister Ruth Berra hails from Genoa, Wis. She was a teacher of music and religion in Wisconsin, served as vocation director for FSPA’s Southern Province and ministered in pastoral care in Illinois, South Dakota and Wisconsin (St. Francis Hospital in La Crosse). Also in Wisconsin, she served as a chaplain in Hillsboro (St. Joseph’s Hospital), in Appleton and De Pere. Sister Ruth, now retired, resides at St. Rose Convent in La Crosse.
From Utah, Sister Georgia Christensen (Mary Howard) ministered as a teacher, principal and assistant superintendent in Iowa, Wisconsin, Washington and California, staff development officer in Zimbabwe and collegiate educator/consultant in Cameroon. At Viterbo University, she served as institution research/assessment director, religion/servant leadership associate professor and graduate/professional/adult education dean. She served the National Center for Accelerated Schools and High Learning Commission as a consultant/evaluator and team chair. Since 2012 Sister Georgia has been FSPA’s congregational secretary.
Sister Theresa Mae Connolly (Kay)
of Superior, Wis., taught primary grades for 20 years in Iowa and Wisconsin. With master’s degrees in both education and pastoral ministry, she served as director of religious education in several parishes in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin for 25 years. Since 2006 Sister Theresa has served the FSPA residing at Villa St. Joseph in
La Crosse, as a volunteer.
A native of Marathon, Wis., Sister Eileen Lang taught junior and senior high school students in Wisconsin for 19 years. From 1981 to 2009, she served the Diocese of Superior as religious education consultant, RENEW and evangelization office director, vicar for religious and chancellor. Sister Eileen has served the FSPA congregation at St. Rose Convent in La Crosse since 2010: for one term as FSPA vice president and since then as sacristan.
Sister Shirley Morrissey of Carroll, Iowa, transferred to FSPA from the Marian Sisters of the Diocese of Lincoln. In Illinois she served at a retreat center and assisted children with disabilities before serving in reception, programming and hospitality at a retreat center in Amarillo, Texas. Moving to La Crosse, she ministered first in pastoral care and then as FSPA assistant coordinator. Now retired, Sister Shirley provides hospice and other volunteer services.
Sister Fran Marie Sulzer (Mary Kennan), from the Marathon/Halder area in Wisconsin, taught primary grades and served as a parish minister. She received a bachelor’s degree in education from Viterbo College, a master’s degree in theology from the University of Dayton and a doctorate in Ministry from Catholic Theological Union. Sister Fran continues to minister in the Chicago area where she provides educational presentations and serves as a spiritual director and licensed clinical psychotherapist.
Sister Marlene Weisenbeck (Mary Gwen) of Durand, Wis., ministered as a music teacher in schools in Wisconsin and at Viterbo College, where she became department chair. For the Diocese of La Crosse, she served the offices of matrimonial tribunal and consecrated life and was appointed chancellor. She was elected to two terms as FSPA president and served for three years as Leadership Conference of Women Religious president. Today she provides canonical consultation to religious congregations.
FSPA Affiliates celebrating 25 years
Affiliate Michelle Ahrenholtz
Affiliate Tammy Barthels
Affiliate Mary Ellen Baumhover
Affiliate Roger Baumhover
Affiliate Dianne Bruck
Affiliate Kathy Corey
Affiliate Mary Rose Keil
Affiliate Marci Madary
Jubiliarian (In Memoriam)
Sister Anita Beskar (Mary Kenneth) ministered in Iowa as an elementary and high school teacher and then in religious education. She served in youth ministry, both as diocesan director in Davenport and as a collaborator for national youth ministry development. She then served as Franciscan chair of global education at Viterbo College in La Crosse, assisted new FSPA members transitioning into religious life in La Crosse and provided hospitality at Marywood Franciscan Spirituality Center in Arbor Vitae.
From Guttenberg, Iowa, Sister Clara Mae Kuempel (Bernardine) served as a teacher and occupational therapist for children in Iowa and Wisconsin, including St. Michael’s Home in La Crosse and hospitals in Madison and Marshfield. In Waterloo she served children with severe disabilities while earning a master of pastoral studies degree from Loyola University in New Orleans, La. Upon her retirement, Sister Clara Mae practiced the art of woodcarving.
Published in the July/August 2022 issue of Catholic Life magazine