For family and friends unable to attend in-person funeral celebrations, FSPA offers live streaming. For anyone unable to join the live stream, a recording of the sister's funeral will be added to their obituary below.
Sister Patricia Shepler, FSPA
Watch Sister Pat's celebration here.
Sister Patricia Shepler, Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, 81, died on Friday, September 22, 2023 at St. Rose Convent in La Crosse, Wisconsin. She was in the sixtieth year of her religious profession. Sister Patricia was born on February 2, 1942 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the eldest of four children, to Eugene and Beatrice (Berg) Shepler. Her father worked in a local rubber factory. She began her education in a nearby public school but transferred to a Catholic school at the beginning of her second grade. Sister Patricia remembers many good times with her family, especially Sunday afternoon drives in the country, picnics and waterskiing or ice skating, depending on the time of year.
After graduating from eighth grade, Sister Patricia started thinking about entering the convent. However, she was advised by her teacher to spend at least a few years in high school. She loved school and participated in everything she could: parties, sports, dances, band, orchestra, as well as studies. Yet, she felt incomplete. She again explored the idea of becoming a sister. On September 8, 1959, she entered St. Rose Convent, where she completed her senior year. Sister Patricia was received into the novitiate in 1961 and received the name Sister Mary Aloysius. She later went back to her baptismal name. She made her first profession of religious vows on August 12, 1963. Sister Patricia began her ministry as a primary grade teacher in Coon Rapids, Iowa and Mosinee, Colby and Superior, Wisconsin. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Education degree from Viterbo College (University), La Crosse and a Master of Arts degree in Education from the University of Minnesota, Duluth.
In 1976, Sister Patricia then received a Master of Arts in Business Administration from the University of Dayton, after which she served for a number of years as an assistant business manager at Viterbo, and eventually controller. These times were tremendous growth years for the college as both enrollment and budget greatly expanded and benefited from her expertise. She moved to Davenport, Iowa and worked as controller for Palmer College of Chiropractic from 1993 until she retired in 2008. Sister Patricia moved to St. Rose Convent in 2012 when her health deteriorated and to Villa St. Joseph the following year, where she participated in the ministry of prayer and witness. Last year she moved back to St. Rose Convent.
Community members, family and friends remember Sister Patricia for her joyful spirit and her willingness to get involved in any activity that presented itself. Even after her retirement, and struggle with Parkinson's, Sister Patricia was involved almost every day of the week volunteering, singing in a choir or meeting with friends. She was determined to live life to the fullest. Her eyes usually indicated some mischief she was planning—including dyeing locks of her hair various colors in her later years. Everyone knew that a beanie baby was a perfect gift to add to her large collection. Sister Patricia inspired others, especially during her years dealing with a back injury and the relentless progression of Parkinson's. She exuded positive energy, no matter her circumstances. Even while Sister Pat was at Villa St. Joseph and using a wheelchair, she used every opportunity she could to go out for a sightseeing ride or event. And one could always count on a display of Green Bay Packer paraphernalia outside her room on game days.
Sister Loretta Penchi, FSPA
Watch Sister Lorretta's celebration here.
Sister Loretta Penchi, Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, 94, died on September 18, 2023 at St. Rose Convent in La Crosse, Wisconsin. She was in the seventy-fifth year of her religious profession. Loretta Ann was born on January 7, 1929, to Thomas and Laura (Doucet) Penchi in Genoa, Wisconsin. She attended St. Charles School in Genoa, staffed by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. Sister Loretta grew up with her two brothers and two sisters. Her father was a contractor. In grade six, Sister Loretta took piano lessons. Like most children, she didn’t mind the lessons but hated practicing. Sister Loretta’s teachers and her aunt, Sister Carolita Penchi, FSPA, influenced her choice of a vocation. On September 2, 1942, Sister Loretta entered St. Rose Convent and completed her high school education there. Sister Loretta was received into the novitiate on August 12, 1946 and was given the name Sister Thomasine, later returning to her baptismal name. She made profession of vows on August 12, 1948 and final vows on August 9, 1954.
Sister Loretta earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree with a major in violin from Viterbo College (University) in La Crosse. Sister Loretta taught elementary school music for 24 years in Spokane, Washington, Lima, Wausau, Eau Claire, Superior, Edgar, Marathon and Ashland, Wisconsin and Bellevue, Iowa. After caring for her mother for several years, Sister Loretta became the manager of the copy center at Viterbo in 1981, a position she held for 19 years. In 2001 she added the task of mail clerk to her other duties. She remained on staff at Viterbo until her retirement in 2019. During those years, Sister Loretta also served as an organist at St. Rose Convent. She continued playing the organ until early 2023, when her health prevented her from climbing the steps to the choir loft.
Community members, family and colleagues will remember Sister Loretta as a matter-of-fact person who was sparse with her words. She would “rule” the copy center at Viterbo like a postmaster general, but beneath her stern demeanor was a heart of gold. Knowing this, her colleagues at the university enjoyed teasing her, just to see what response they would get from her, something she enjoyed and reciprocated. During the holiday season, many who knew her were fortunate to find a batch of specially prepared Chex Mix tucked away in their mailboxes.
She loved music and was saddened when she couldn’t play the organ or the violin any longer. Another of her delights was researching genealogy and finding family connections from the past for herself as well as other sisters and colleagues. A major discovery for her was that one of her ancestors traveled with St. Isaac Jogues on his 17th century missionary travels in Canada. She was very proud of her Italian roots. Growing up in Genoa was a source of pride along with the many homes her father built — some of which remain standing today in Genoa and on La Crosse’s southside. Sister Loretta also had a deep respect and compassion for the work her brother, Father Edward, did in his many years of mission work in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. When he fell ill, she made the trip to South America to be with him. Sister Loretta was also an avid crossword puzzle player, as she was the one who copied puzzles from the newspaper and supplied many sisters with them.
Sister Lorraine Forster, FSPA
Sister Lorraine Forster, Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, 99, died on Tuesday, July 25, 2023, at Villa St. Joseph in La Crosse, Wisconsin. She was in the seventy-ninth year of her religious profession. On June 21, 1924, Lorraine Margaret was born to Leroy (Roy) and Agnes (Harmon) Forster, in Durand, Wisconsin. In 1927 her family moved to a farm near Stanley, Wisconsin. “My father was a spirited man who sang or whistled as he worked, while my mother was patient and a pleasant companion who gently trained us by being with us,” said Sister Lorraine.
For five years, Sister Lorraine attended a country school before completing grade school at St. Anne’s Catholic School in Stanley, Wisconsin, taught by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. She felt early the whisper to become a sister. Sister Lorraine attended one year of high school at St. Bernard St. Hedwig School in Thorp, Wisconsin which was staffed by the Servants of Mary. She remained firm in her choice of joining FSPA and entered St. Rose Convent on August 17, 1939. Sister Lorraine was received into the novitiate on August 12, 1942, and given the name Sister Incarnata. Later, she returned to her baptismal name. She made her first profession of vows on August 12, 1944, and her final profession on August 9, 1950.
Choosing education as her ministry, Sister Lorraine taught for five and a half years at the elementary level in Wisconsin and Iowa before moving to the secondary level. Chemistry and Latin were her subjects of expertise. She received a bachelor’s degree from Viterbo College (University) in La Crosse, in chemistry with a minor in Latin and a master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame in chemistry. She served in high schools as an instructor, administrator and counselor in Carroll, Iowa (St. Angela Academy and Kuemper), North Dakota, Montana (Holy Rosary), Utah (St. Francis), Washington (Marycliff) and Wisconsin (St. Mary’s Academy) from 1952-2009. The last 31 years of Sister Lorraine’s teaching ministry were at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, where she also served as a chemistry and Latin teacher and counselor. She retired in Las Vegas in 2009 and then volunteered at St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Las Vegas as a librarian, tutor and RCIA instructor. In 2017, Sister Lorraine moved to St. Rose Convent and then to Villa St. Joseph in 2019.
Community members, family and friends remember Sister Lorraine as an excellent, dedicated teacher. She always found a way to entice her students to love the subjects she taught. Her stern appearance might have scared off acquaintances initially, but soon they found in Sister Lorraine a gentle, fun-loving person who was always caring and giving. She had a keen sense of humor and often used it to her advantage. She had a special spot in her heart for the FSPA affiliates in the Las Vegas area. She often gathered them together for prayer and conversation. Many remained close to her through email, letters and telephone calls after she moved to La Crosse.
Sister Marydel Bissen, FSPA
Sister Marydel Bissen, Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, 94 died on Tuesday, July 4, 2023, at St. Rose Convent in La Crosse, Wisconsin. She was in the seventy-second year of her religious profession. Sister Marydel was born on March 8, 1929, to Mathias and Margaret (Smith) Bissen in Johnsburg, Minnesota. At her baptism, she was given the name Bernice. She and her sister Martha attended a country school near their home for two years. She then attended St. John’s School in Stacyville, Iowa run by the Franciscan Sisters from Rochester, Minnesota. During the summer between fifth and sixth grades, Bernice and her parents were in a car accident not far from home. Her parents were both killed and Bernice’s life hung in the balance for many days. She was firm in her desire to remain living in her home even after her older brother married. Eventually, Bernice went to live with her sister Rosina and her family.
Upon graduating from eighth grade, Bernice boarded at St. Angela Academy in Carroll, Iowa. She was terribly lonesome, but the presence of her sister, Sister Julia Bissen, FSPA, at St. Anthony Hospital in Carroll helped her to work through it. It was during her high school years that Sister Marie Leon La Croix and Sister Zelma Schenkleberg approached Bernice about religious vocations. Bernice resisted the thought. When Sister Julia and Father Binsfeld, the school chaplain, also mentioned it, Bernice began to more seriously discern. She wanted to have a real family experience to test out the idea so she moved back to her sister Rosina’s home. After a year or so, she had made up her mind and entered St. Rose Convent, becoming a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration. Bernice was received into the novitiate on August 12, 1949, and was given the name Sister Marydel. She made her first profession of vows on August 12, 1951, and her final profession on August 9, 1957.
Sister Marydel ministered as a homemaker in convent homes throughout the majority of her religious life. She served in Wisconsin (La Crosse – St. Clara, 1952-53; Middle Ridge – St. Peter, 1953-55 and 1957-64; Ashland – Holy Family, 1955-56; Superior – Cathedral, 1964-65; Blenker – St. Wenceslaus, 1965-66) and Iowa (Maple River – St. Francis, 1966-67; Hills – St. Joseph, 1967-68, St. Lucas – St. Luke, 1968-77; Dedham – St. Joseph, 1977-83). From 1983 to 1988, Sister Marydel served as a cafeteria assistant at St. Rose Convent in La Crosse. Following two years at the Franciscan Center for Wholistic Living in St. Paul, she moved to Villa St. Joseph where she was part of the Religious Services Department from 1990 to 2003. She retired at Villa St. Joseph and continued volunteering in the department until her health prevented her from continuing. In 2011, she embraced the ministry of prayer and witness at Villa St. Joseph. Sister Marydel moved to St. Rose Convent in 2022.
Community members, family and friends will remember Sister Marydel for her wonderful smile and beautiful voice. She was always ready to offer a helping hand. She always found the good in others and had a heart for the less fortunate; her commitment of service to others was truly a selfless and inspiring gift. Her devotion to Our Blessed Lady carried her through her years of service. She loved to have fun and would come up with great little quips that made others laugh. She often brought tears of joy and hope to people when she broke into song. She loved animals, particularly dogs. She could frequently be found at the bedside of a dying sister praying the rosary or singing softly, inviting Jesus to welcome the dying sister into His loving arms.
Sister Jolyce Greteman, FSPA
Sister Jolyce Greteman, Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, 85, died on Tuesday, June 20, 2023, at Villa St. Joseph in La Crosse, Wisconsin. She was in the sixty-fourth year of her religious profession. Mary Jane Greteman was born on March 27, 1938 to Joseph and Pauline (Bayer) Greteman in Willey, Iowa. Her father worked in the general merchandise store started by his father. Mary Jane and her sister Joan grew up in this small town and attended St. Mary’s School. Sister Jolyce remembers the two of them riding in the back of their dad’s truck on his trips to nearby Carroll, Iowa to pick up merchandise for the store. Her family moved to Carroll in 1950 where they had built a home with a small residential grocery store attached. She completed grade school at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic School and attended high school at St. Angela Academy, which became Kuemper High School during her junior year.
In 1956, major changes took place in the Greteman family. Mary Jane’s sister was married in July; Mary Jane entered the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in August; and her father died in November. Mary Jane was given the name Sister Jolyce when she entered the novitiate in 1957. She professed her first vows as an FSPA in 1959. Sister Jolyce began her education at Viterbo College (University) with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and a concentration in math and science. Later she earned a Master of Education in Elementary Education from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. She taught middle and junior high school for 30 years in Wisconsin (Wisconsin Rapids, La Crosse, Spencer and Loyal) and Iowa (Sherrill, Cedar Rapids, Breda and Carroll), often responsible for mathematics education. She not only taught full-time while on mission but was superior and principal in both Loyal and Sherrill. In 1990, Sister Jolyce attended the CREDO Program at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington.
For the next two years, she volunteered her services at Villa St. Joseph, wherever they were needed. Shortly after, following a year at the Franciscan Center for Wholistic Living in St. Paul, Minnesota, Sister Jolyce accepted the position of FSPA Archivist, a position she held from 1994 to 2002. When Sister Jolyce retired as archivist, she took on the role of Heritage Curator for the next seven years. In 2009 Sister Jolyce retired to St. Rose Convent, where she continued to volunteer in the archives and heritage departments until she moved to Villa St. Joseph in 2016. During her time in archives and heritage, Sister Jolyce saw many changes, including a renovation of St. Rose Convent that required moving the archives below the convent chapels, the closing of regions in the congregation in 1998 and the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the community in 1999. She remembered the many challenges but noted that she enjoyed the work very much and felt it was a privilege to be able to give service to the community.
Community members, family and friends remember Sister Jolyce as a kind and gentle person and a great storyteller and raconteur. She was very meticulous about her work and always ready to share interesting accounts of the community and its early members that she came across in her work, as well as humorous incidents from her years in teaching. Sister Jolyce was always very appreciative and affirming, as she often expressed her gratitude and "thanks for all you do for us" to everyone she would meet. She never focused on herself but on the needs and desires of others. She would have a twinkle in her eye as she looked at you with a quick wit or teasing comment. Her commitment to living out the simplicity as a follower of Francis and Clare was her hallmark.
Sister Rita Mae Fischer, FSPA
Sister Rita Mae Fischer, Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, 94, died unexpectedly on Sunday, June 4, 2023 at St. Rose Convent in La Crosse, Wisconsin. She was in the seventy-fourth year of her religious profession. Rita Mary Fischer was born to Cyril and Mary (Heim) Fischer on December 11, 1928 in West Allis, Wisconsin. She was the second oldest of seven children, with four brothers and two sisters. Her father worked for an insurance company. When she was five years old her father was transferred to St. Cloud, Minnesota. Rita Mary attended St. Mary’s Grade School and Cathedral High School in St. Cloud, where she was involved in orchestra, string ensemble, basketball and tennis.
Toward the end of her high school years, the parish priest arranged for a group of students to travel to St. Rose Convent in La Crosse to visit the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. As soon as Rita Mary stepped into the Adoration Chapel she knew God had a special call for her as a sister. She already had a deep attraction to St. Francis of Assisi, so the idea of joining the FSPA was natural. In the summer of 1946, Rita Mary moved to St. Rose Convent. She was received into the novitiate the following year and given the name, Sister Rita Mae. She professed her first vows as an FSPA in 1949.
Sister Rita Mae taught primary grades for 33 years in Wisconsin (Wausau, Menomonie, Stanley, Pewaukee, Durand, Superior), Washington (Spokane) and Mississippi (Canton). In 1974, Sister Rita Mae was selected as an “Outstanding Elementary Teacher of America.” During the course of her teaching, Sister Rita Mae earned a BA in Elementary Education from Viterbo College (University) in La Crosse, Wisconsin and an MS in Education with a minor in theology from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. She later earned a minor in library science. She ministered as religious education director in Edgar, Wisconsin and as an elementary school librarian at Holy Spirit School in Carroll, Iowa and High School librarian at Marquette in West Point, Iowa. After a year’s sabbatical in 1994, Sister Rita Mae assisted with sister services at Villa St. Joseph in La Crosse for three years before moving to St. Cloud where she cared for her mother and ministered as a media specialist at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School for two years. She then volunteered as a librarian at Immaculate Conception School in Eau Claire, Wisconsin for a year before moving to St. Paul, Minnesota as a CCD teacher for seven years at St. Jerome Parish. In 2008, Sister Rita Mae moved to St. Rose Convent where she volunteered in the media center for 11 years, while being very involved in prayer and hospitality.
Community members, family and friends remember Sister Rita Mae as a quiet, gentle person, always wearing a smile. She loved people and expressed genuine interest in each person she met. Up until her last day she was actively involved in community events. Sister Rita Mae loved adventure and grabbed onto every opportunity to explore and learn something new. She would often talk about her time in Mexico on the GATE program, coordinating a Head Start program in Canton, Mississippi, guiding adults in a GED program in New Orleans or participating in a Franciscan Pilgrimage to Italy—all of which took her out of her comfort zone, but proved such blessings. Sister Rita Mae was an avid walker—outdoors when the weather permitted or up and down the corridors of St. Rose Convent in the winter months. A kind and devoted librarian, she inspired and assisted many on their journey through literature. Among her other talents, she learned the art of juggling and would find creative ways to incorporate this skill into her teaching. No matter where she was missioned, she maintained close contact with her family. She always enjoyed and encouraged visitors.
Sister Mary Simeon Werner, FSPA
Sister Mary Simeon Werner, Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, 92, died on Saturday, May 20, 2023 at St. Rose Convent in La Crosse, Wisconsin. She was in the sixty-ninth year of her religious profession. Victoria Marveline was born to Benedict and Catherine (Schmidt) Werner on July 9, 1930 in Logan County, North Dakota. She spent her first nine years on the family farm. After World War II her father took a job as a road worker in Spokane, Washington and moved the family there. Marveline, as she was called, was small and fragile. She said she fit into her father’s shoebox when she was born. As a little girl in a family that included three brothers and one sister, she prided herself in keeping up with all the fun and activities.
While attending Marycliff High School in Spokane, she met the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration who helped plant the seed of her religious vocation. Upon graduating from Marycliff, Marveline entered St. Rose Convent. Entering the novitiate in 1951, she was given the name Sister Mary Simeon. In 1953, she made her first profession of vows as a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration. Sister Mary Simeon ministered in elementary schools for 40 years. She taught in La Crosse, Prescott, Wausau and Colby, Wisconsin, Salem, Oregon, as well as in Spokane.
Sister Mary Simeon completed her Bachelor of Science in Education degree from Viterbo College (University) in La Crosse and a Master of Science in Education degree from Gonzaga University in Spokane. She attended Aquinas Institute and then became Director of Novices at St. Rose Convent from 1971 through 1975. From 1975 to 1997, she served as teacher and principal of Queen of Peace School and St. Paul School, both located in Oregon. For the next three years, she stayed in Oregon and ministered as a chaplain in a correctional institution and as a parish visitor. In 2000, she retired to Spokane where she continued volunteer work with Catholic Charities. She moved to Villa St. Joseph, the FSPA skilled-care home in La Crosse, in 2012 when her health began to fail.
Community members, family and friends remember Sister Mary Simeon as having a quick wit and a comeback for almost everything. She never got tired of telling stories of her teaching adventures and times with the novices—especially their “educational travel experiences.” She had an eye for beauty, artistically arranging common weeds into beautiful bouquets. As an avid reader, her interests ranged from science to sports. Although small in stature, her enthusiasm for giving was truly larger than life.
Sister Donna Storms, FSPA
Sister Donna Storms, Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, 91, died on Wednesday, May 10, 2023, at St. Rose Convent in La Crosse, Wisconsin. She was in the seventy-second year of her religious profession. Donna Helen was born on May 26, 1931, in Spokane, Washington, to Fred and Anne (Roberg) Storms. Fifth of seven children, Sister Donna grew up in a loving German family with her three brothers and three sisters. Her elementary years were spent at St. Anthony School, taught by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. It was there that she and her sister, Rita, decided to join the convent (“not because the sisters were fascinating, but because my newly acquired reason told me that the religious life was the best choice a person could make.”) However, both she and Rita postponed that choice feeling it would be best to first attend Marycliff High School, also administered and taught by the FSPA, in Spokane. After two years in high school, Sister Donna decided it wasn’t fair to keep God waiting any longer. She entered St. Rose Convent and completed her high school in La Crosse.
Sister Donna was received into the novitiate on August 12, 1949 and was given the name Sister Antonina. Later she returned to her baptismal name. She made her first profession of vows on August 12, 1951. Sister Donna earned a BA degree in English with a minor in French from Viterbo College (University), an MA in English from Seattle University and later an MA in Pastoral Ministry from Seattle University. She ministered as a middle-grade teacher at schools in Wisconsin (Durand 1951-54, Marathon 1954-56 and La Crosse 1957-59). Sister Donna served as principal at St. Anthony School in Spokane from 1966 to 1969. In 1969, Sister Donna was called to Provo, Utah where she continued teaching until the school closed. She then moved into parish work until 1973.
For the next year, she taught adult religious education in Salem, Oregon. From 1974 to 1989, Sister Donna served the Spokane Diocese as a consultant and Diocesan Director of Religious Education. During that time, Sister Donna served in leadership in the Western Province and as a General Board member for the FSPA community. In 1989, Sister Donna was invited by the pastor to La Puente, California, where she ministered at St. Louis of France Parish as the Director of Adult Religious Education until she retired in 2001. Subsequently, she continued at the parish in a volunteer role. She retired to St. Rose Convent in 2016 and moved to Villa St. Joseph in 2019. In 2022, Sister Donna moved back to St. Rose Convent.
Community members, family and friends will remember Sister Donna as a caring, creative person. She loved little children and teaching parents how to educate their children in the faith. She was well-loved by all the parents, especially the Filipino community with which she ministered in California. Family was always important to Sister Donna. While serving as Director of Religious Education, Sister Donna traveled to various parishes, making recommendations that were greatly appreciated and implemented by the pastors. Ever a learner, she attended numerous workshops throughout her career. One summer Sister Donna received a grant to study mathematics and ended up teaching an advanced calculus class to other participants.
Sister Clarone Brill, FSPA
Sister Clarone Brill, Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, 93, died on Thursday, May 4, 2023, at St. Rose Convent in La Crosse, Wisconsin. She was in the seventy-fourth year of her religious profession. Elsie Rose was the fifth of eight children born to Theodore and Magdalena (Hoffmann) Brill on December 4, 1929 in Colby, Wisconsin. Elsie and her two brothers and four sisters grew up on the family dairy farm. She attended Lone Pine School, a one-room country school until the last two years of grade school when she attended St. Mary Catholic Grade School in Colby. After grade school, she felt the Spirit “nudging” her to become a sister. Following her oldest sister Clara, she entered St. Rose Convent, the headquarters of the FSPA, and received her high school education at St. Rose Convent.
In 1947, she was received into the novitiate of the FSPA and given the name Sister Clarone. She professed her first vows on August 12, 1949. For the first 32 years of her religious profession, Sister Clarone ministered in the field of education. She received a BS in Elementary Education from Viterbo College (University) in La Crosse and an MS in Elementary Education from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. She began her ministry in education as a primary school teacher in Edgar, Fountain City, Menomonie, Plum City and Pewaukee, Wisconsin and in West Point, Milford and Lansing, Iowa. In Pewaukee, she served as principal of St. Anthony School, a position she held from 1985 to 1992.
During most of her years in Catholic elementary schools, she also ministered as a CCD teacher, preparing children for the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist. This also involved 20 years of parent education. Upon retiring from the field of education, Sister Clarone moved into the clinical pastoral ministry and served as chaplain at St. Luke’s Hospital in Milwaukee until she was called to pastoral care at Villa St. Joseph, La Crosse from 1995 to 2006. In 2007 she took a sabbatical before moving to St. Rose Convent, where she resided until her death, witnessing through prayer and hospitality.
Her community, family and friends remember Sister Clarone as a dedicated, creative teacher and compassionate pastoral care minister. Her connections with her former students and their families were kept alive through the years by their visits and her extensive letter-writing. She could entertain a group with one story after another. She was always interested in what was happening in the community and actively participated in everything that was offered. Prayer was always an important part of Sister Clarone’s life. She cherished her time in the Adoration Chapel before the Blessed Sacrament. She prepared many prayer partners prior to their commitment to an adoration hour. Sister Clarone loved to travel and accepted any opportunity that presented itself, in the central and western United States, as well as abroad both in Europe and Latin America. She became one of the congregation’s resources during the time of reconnecting with its roots in Bavaria, often called upon to translate German documents.
Sister Dorothy Ann Kundinger, FSPA
Sister Dorothy Ann, Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, 81, died on Wednesday, February 8, 2023, at Hospice Ministries in Ridgeland, Mississippi, where she had been chaplain for many years. She was in the sixty-second year of her religious profession. Sister Dorothy Agnes was born on October 8, 1941 in Auburndale, Wisconsin to Joseph and Martha (Bayerl) Kundinger. She grew up on the family farm with her two brothers and three sisters, getting into – to use her words – “all the mischief we could imagine.”
During the seventh grade at St. Mary’s School in Auburndale, Sister Dorothy began hearing a faint call to religious life. She ignored it despite the persistent nature of the call. Upon her graduation from the eighth grade, she announced to her parents that she would like to go to the convent. By August, 1955, Sister Dorothy was beginning her high school at St. Rose Convent in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Sister Dorothy was received into the novitiate on August 12, 1959 and was given the name Sister Dorothy Ann. She made her first profession of vows on August 12, 1961.
She earned a Bachelor of Arts in History with a minor in English from Viterbo College (University) and an MS in Education from Xavier University in Cincinnati. The first 26 years of her ministry were spent as a middle-grade and junior-high teacher. She taught in Wisconsin at Platteville (1962-65), Blessed Sacrament School in La Crosse (1966-70 and 1977-79) and Dodgeville (1973-77) also serving as principal. In 1979, Sister Dorothy Ann moved to Holy Child Jesus School in Canton, Mississippi where she taught junior high for 10 years. During her time in Canton, Sister Dorothy Ann became a companion to Sister Thea Bowman, an FSPA who gained prominence as a teacher, musician and civil rights activist in the African American community. She traveled across the country with Sister Thea, until Sister Thea eventually succumbed to cancer in 1990. After Sister Thea’s death, Sister Dorothy Ann remained in Canton as a volunteer hospice worker, ministering to people with HIV/AIDS. In 1993, she moved to Jackson, Mississippi where she served as chaplain and hospice worker, providing care for people with HIV/AIDS at Grace House in Ridgeland.
Community members, family and friends remember Sister Dorothy Ann for her delightful smile, sense of humor and positive attitude toward life along with the great care she provided to Sister Thea during her life and the assistance she gave Sister Thea’s legacy after her death. Perhaps the most memorable is Sister Dorothy Ann’s loving care for those suffering with HIV/AIDS. Oftentimes, she would spend days in the home of someone dying of HIV/AIDS or care for them in her home if they couldn’t afford another place or another place was not available. She was very appreciative of FSPA for enabling her to minister to those often forgotten or ignored by society. She lived simply, joyfully and with great love and care for everyone.
Sister Lydia Wendl, FSPA
Sister Lydia Wendl, Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, 101, died on Friday, January 27, 2023, at St. Rose Convent in La Crosse, Wisconsin. She was in the eighty-first year of her religious profession. Sister Lydia was born to John and Mary (Danzer) Wendl on January 11, 1922, in Willey, Iowa. At her baptism, she was named after her paternal aunt, Lydia Wendl. Whenever anyone suggested that she would end up at the convent, she objected. She wanted to do things differently! At age six, Sister Lydia went to school with her two older sisters. When the weather was favorable, they walked three miles home, but always rode to school with their father or one of their neighbors. Since their grandparents lived near the school, the girls ate lunch with them. Sister Lydia preferred physical outdoor work, like herding cattle and pumping water, over housework.
After completing eighth grade, Sister Lydia wanted to attend high school. None of her other siblings had done so, but her parents allowed her to attend St. Angela’s Academy in Carroll, Iowa. She boarded with the sisters Monday through Friday and it was customary to make a retreat between the two semesters. During this time, the call to religious life was reawakened in her. Louise, her sister, spoke often about going to the convent and finally decided on the Benedictines in Missouri. How surprised, and disappointed, was Sister Lydia when Louise (Sister Joan Marie) entered FSPA in La Crosse. Eventually, Sister Lydia outgrew her “do things differently” attitude and two years later she, too, joined FSPA. Sister Lydia was received into the Novitiate on August 12, 1940, and was given her own name, Sister Lydia. She professed vows on August 12, 1942 and made final profession on August 9, 1948.
Sister Lydia earned a bachelor’s degree from Viterbo College (University) in education with double minors in philosophy and history. She taught primary and intermediate grades in parochial schools in Iowa (Milford, Coon Rapids, Richmond, Festina, West Point, Bellevue, Guttenberg, Willey, Dedham, Calmar, Mt. Carmel and West Bend) Washington (Spokane) and Wisconsin (Eau Galle and Halder) for 42 years. From 1984 to 1989 she ministered to the elderly in Las Vegas and was instrumental in developing Pastoral Care Outreach at Sunrise Hospital. Sister Lydia then served as Pastoral Care Minister at St. Anne’s Parish, also in Las Vegas, until she retired to St. Rose Convent in 2001. For six years she was the chapel tour guide coordinator at the convent. In 2013, she moved to Villa St. Joseph in La Crosse and in 2022 back to St. Rose Convent.
Community members, family and friends will remember the long and rich life of Sister Lydia, for her deep love of God and her faith, her loyal dedication to her work with little children and the elderly and her positive approach to life. Throughout her multiple ministries, she had a “can do” attitude. One of her favorite quotes was, “God does not ask us to be successful, but to be faithful.” And faithful, she was as she visited and brought communion to the sick and elderly—even organizing a potluck luncheon for seniors at her Las Vegas parish each month for 17 years.