Eulogy for Sister Philomene Reiland — April 11, 1941 – Aug. 2, 2021

August 6, 2021 by  

 

Vigil: Aug. 5, 2021, at the Nazareth Motherhouse
Eulogist: Sister Mary Jo Thummel

Psalm 150

Praise the Lord.

Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
    praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
    praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with tambourine and dancing,
    praise him with the strings and organs,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
    praise him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

 

Philomene (Barbara Frances Reiland) was born on April 11, 1941 to Edward and Philomena Monaco Reiland in Aurora, Illinois. She was the second of three children: James, Barbara, and Thomas. She is survived by James and Thomas.

Barbara says very little about her growing up years but I know she kept in close touch with her family members and always spoke well and proudly of each of them.

Barbara was taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph from grade school through college. She remembers sitting on a piano bench in first grade. This is when she started taking lessons from Sister Edmund. In 5th and 6th grades Sister Irene taught her organ and violin. She loved her music lessons and found them fun.

Barbara felt called to be a religious from the time she was in 4th grade and started attending daily Mass. In the fall of 1955, she and a group of six other young women came from Aurora, Illinois, to attend the Apostolic School at Nazareth Motherhouse. She loved the school, the teachers, the good education she received, and felt that it was a really fun experience.

In 1959, Barbara entered the postulancy. She professed her first vows on Aug. 15, 1960, and was given the name Philomene. She professed final vows on Aug. 15, 1963.

About her early ministry, Philomene says, “I taught for 14 years in Nebraska, Kansas and Illinois and loved it tremendously!”

In 1980, Philomene went into church music ministry full time. Her duties in that ministry included coordinating liturgical music and music personnel, selecting and training song leaders and parish musicians, being a resource and assisting at weddings and funerals, overseeing the condition of all parish musical instruments and church sound system, being responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of missalettes and music issues and being available to help with the parish Religious Education Program. This is only a partial list, because, as many know the parish ministry contract usually ended with a statement that generally ended with, “and other duties, as needed.”

Several times I visited Philomene in several of the parishes, where she ministered and I know that she enjoyed working with all ages of students training and teaching anything having to do with music. She made learning music fun and the students reacted by giving their all and responding to Philomene with eagerness and enthusiasm.

Father Richard R. Kramer, who is a retired priest of the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois, and a dear friend of Philomene’s, had this to say about her and her ministry. “Philomene was a good witness to the Catholic faith and women religious. She had a tremendous sense of humor and loved to be around people. She is a real credit to the Sisters of St. Joseph!!! I can speak for many parishioners and friends when I say we truly loved you, Sister Philomene and will always miss you deeply. But now play your music and sing your personal songs to the Lord Himself and His angels.”

Philomene loved everything music. She had a bachelors in music education, and a masters of of arts in church music and liturgy. The piano and organ where her instruments of choice but she could also play the guitar, violin, string bass, bass guitar and accordion. She once played the accordion in the middle of Soldier Field in Chicago. Philomene also had a lovely singing voice and taught voice students. She has composed musical scores. In late 1981 she composed a Mass in honor of our Centenary Year, which we celebrated in 1983. She named it Mass Joseph Fili David.

In 1986, Philomene, asked for and was given a sabbatical year …  a year of sabbath …  to take time to study and sometimes travel. Philomene did both. Her parents had given her a Silver Jubilee gift of a trip abroad. She signed up for an organ study tour of East and West Germany, France, Luxembourg and Belgium. Highlights of her tour were the birthplaces of Bach and Handel, many of the places where Bach worked as a church musician and all the organs that the tour group could get their hands on — sometimes as many as four in one day. The most intense experience was the time in East Germany behind the Iron Curtain. It made all of them happy to be Americans and live in a free country.

The place of the arts in Europe were an inspiration to Philomene. The organs were in tip-top shape, the art work had been lovingly restored, the countryside was beautiful and they were constantly in awe at the marvelous sights.

Philomene says that her time of living in New York was a marvelous experience. She lived with the Sisters of Charity and was close to Broadway, Times Square, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, The Lincoln Center and Juilliard, where she was attending classes. The highlights of her time in New York were her organ lessons from a great teacher, her other classes and the dedicated students.

One other component of her year was Matthew Fox’s Creation Spirituality Program. She was excited by the fact that she found touchstones in his spirituality that she felt were compatible with our own charism. She considered her Sabbatical year most enriching and profitable spiritually and musically.

Philomene had a real heart for the poor and those that she felt were in need in some way. She personally did what she could for the poor near her living and working situation, wrote letters and petitioned city officials. She urged us to reach out to a number of groups through our St. Joseph Ministry Fund. Philomene could be a force to be reckoned with.

I believe that Philomene’s music was her deepest prayer. It was the expression of the Godly love at her core. When she helped us as a group to prepare for our special celebrations, she had a way of working with us that brought out the best in us and enabled us to make beautiful music together. She could make both us and the musical instruments she was playing sing praise from our hearts.

Philomene said, “My passions in life are praising the Lord, vocations and music! In the life of a CSJ there is never a dull moment! I have been a sister for 62 years and feel like it has just been a year. Every day is new, different and full of blessings and surprises!”

Psalm 150

Praise the Lord.

Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
    praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
    praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with tambourine and dancing,
    praise him with the strings and organs,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
    praise him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

Psalm 150 is called the musicians Psalm. It is an eloquent, passionate cry to all creation to give the praise of which God is due. It is a prayer of unlimited praise of God using everything that can be used to worship God. There are nine instruments named – trumpet, harp, lute, tambourine, dancing (ram’s horn), strings, organ, cymbals (two kinds). The many instruments symbolize that every class and group of people are called to praise God.

Philomene’s life was certainly one of praise to God through music! Over and over on her commitment slips she reiterated “I commit myself to use and share my musical gifts and talents in whatever way that I can, to give God glory.”

Philomene, we trust you are now truly sharing your musical gifts and talents with all the other heavenly musicians.

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Video of Vigil Service for Sister Philomene Reiland

August 5, 2021 by  

Please click the link to view.

Obituary for Sister Philomene Reiland — April 11, 1941 – Aug. 2, 2021

August 3, 2021 by  

Sister Philomene Reiland died Aug. 2, 2021, at Cloud County Health Center in Concordia, Kansas. She was 80 years old and a religious sister for 62 years. She was born in Aurora, Illinois, on April 11, 1941, to Edward and Philomena Monaco Reiland, the second of three children, and was baptized Barbara. She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia on Feb. 2, 1959. On Aug. 15, 1959, Barbara received the habit and was given the name Sister Philomene. She pronounced first vows on Aug. 15, 1960, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1963.

Sister Philomene received a bachelor of science degree in music education in 1968 from Marymount College, Salina, Kansas. In 1976 she received a master of arts degree in church music from St. Joseph College, Rensselaer, Indiana. Sister Philomene did post graduate work in organ performance at the Julliard School of Music, New York.

Sister Philomene taught in Salina, Kansas; Chicago, Illinois; and Grand Island, Nebraska. She was the parish director of music in Concordia, Kansas, and Sterling, Illinois; assistant profession of music at Sauk Valley Community College, Dixon, Illinois, and director of music in Libertyville, Illinois. She gave private piano lessons in Grayslake and Sterling, Illinois, while serving as director of music at St. Mary Parish in Sterling, Illinois.

Sister Philomene was preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by two brothers, James of Montgomery, Illinois, and Thomas of Raleigh, North Carolina. A Bible Vigil Service will be held 7 p.m. Aug. 5 in the Nazareth Motherhouse Chapel with Sister Mary Jo Thummel as the eulogist. The Mass of Christian Burial will be 10:30 a.m.  Aug. 6 in the Motherhouse Chapel, Father Barry Brinkman presiding. Masks are required. The burial will be in the Nazareth Motherhouse Cemetery. Chaput Buoy Mortuary, 325 W. 6th St., Concordia, is in charge of arrangements. Memorials for Sister Philomene Reiland may be given to the Sisters of St. Joseph Health Care/Retirement Fund or the Apostolic Works of the Sisters; P.O Box 279, Concordia, KS 66901.

To make an online donation in Sister Philomene Reiland’s memory, click on the button below:

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Video of Sister Ramona Medina’s Bible Vigil and Eulogy service on July 20, 2021

July 21, 2021 by  

Eulogy for Sister Ramona Medina — March 14, 1937 – July 16, 2021

July 20, 2021 by  

Sister Ramona Medina was born on March 14, 1937, in La Jara, Colorado, the 13th child of fourteen born to Celina Romero and Juan Medina. She passed away on July, 16, 2021, here at the Motherhouse. Ramona was preceded in death by her parents and these siblings: Adelmo, Marie, Sister Lucia, Joe, Sister Dora, Sister Aurea, Celina, Sister Joseph Mary and Gilbert. She is survived by: Sister Celinda who is in Atchison, Luis in Alamosa, Colorado, and Sister Rufina in Framingham, Massachusetts. Ramona was baptized Elvira Elidia and was called “Vera” by family and friends.

           In August of 1939, when Ramona was 18 months old, her mother Celina died in childbirth. With the oldest of the 13 children being Adelmo in his teens, the death of their Mother was a great loss. I quote Ramona; “Relatives and friends offered dad advice … ‘Give the two or three youngest children out for adoption, split them up to live with other families.’ Dad listened, but then called a family conference. Our grandparents and the older children had a say in making the decision. It was decided that the family would stay together.”  

Their plan was that when each of the daughters graduated from high school, she would remain at home and care for the younger children until the next girl graduated. Then she was free to pursue further education.

            Ramona has more to say about growing up in this family!

“Regarding my childhood days…I am so grateful for the opportunity to have lived on the farm/ranch … .enjoying and savoring God’s presence in nature and all of creation with my dear dad and with a loving, caring and fun family. Dad was strict, but gentle; he taught us by his example and deep faith, the importance of prayer in our daily lives, having a grateful heart, caring for one another and those we encountered daily,” especially the less fortunate. “There was always room for one more!”

            She continues, “Since we couldn’t afford to have store-bought toys, we learned to be creative and made our own toys and had fun coming up with our own games, making mud pies, making stilts, ice skating during the winter months and played baseball or whatever, with our many cousins …. I have such fond and treasured memories of my childhood days …. I truly believe mom has cared for each of us from heaven. I have always felt her presence as a child growing up and even now, as I am growing older.”

            Juan Medina instilled strong values in his children: faith was foremost, love and care for family as well, the importance of education and hard work, and welcoming the stranger. As Ramona’s siblings completed high school, they studied for their careers and became successful.

            Here is Ramona’s story about her life choices, “During my high school years, I tried not to think about being a sister because I felt that I was being expected to follow in my sisters’ footsteps (Six of her sisters had already entered different religious orders!). During my senior year my boyfriend and I were talking about marriage following graduation from college. However, during the senior prom as my boyfriend and I were dancing, I suddenly felt an emptiness deep within and I knew at that moment that NO human person could satisfy me. God was calling me to be a sister! I knew at that moment that my one and only true lover was GOD. I entered the Benedictine Order in Atchison, Kansas, in 1955. I treasure the 19 years I spent with the Benedictines. I grew spiritually and formed fond relationships during that time ….. I transferred to the Sisters of St. Joseph in Concordia, Kansas, in 1980 because I sensed I had an apostolic and not a monastic heart. My heart was at home and at peace with the Sisters of St. Joseph.”

She stated that her “one desire is to continue working daily towards total union with God, to serve God, the dear neighbor and to care for our earth with tireless love and dedication as a Sister of St. Joseph.”

            Her education: Sister Ramona attended Mt. St. Scholastica College in Atchison, Kansas, earning a bachelor’s degree in education in 1970. In 1983 she received a bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy from the University of Kansas in Lawrence.

            Her ministries are many: While with the Benedictines she served as an elementary teacher for 15 years. After transferring to the Sisters of St. Joseph, she served in occupational therapy from 1981 to 1999 in a number of hospitals and nursing homes in Kansas City, Lakeland, Florida, and in Kansas — Onega, Ellsworth and McPherson. In 1999 she was elected to the Leadership Council of the Sisters of St. Joseph, where she served as a Regional Coordinator until 2009. After serving in leadership, she joined Sisters Pat McLennon and Jean Befort as co-directors for creating a ministry called Neighbor to Neighbor for women and children here in Concordia. That ministry continues on today. In 2012 Sister Ramona moved to the Motherhouse.

            A bit more about Ramona’s professional life as an occupational therapist. In 1987 she was named Employee of the Year at Swope Ridge Health Care Center in Kansas City. In 1988 she applied for a copyright for her creation of seven dolls and two puppets for working with adults with physical limitations. In 1990 she received a certificate of appreciation for her work with students at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

I quote: “You have been an excellent role model for our students. You are the epitome of the words ‘caring’ and ‘giving.’ Your creativity and resourcefulness help our students understand the unlimited potential for occupational therapists to serve.”

When Ramona was in Ellsworth she began an occupational therapy program in 1993 for the residents of Good Samaritan Village, helping them “progress to the point where they can return home or at least become more independent.” In 1995 she established an occupational therapy department at Memorial Hospital in McPherson. She is quoted as saying, “What I like most about my job is that one can be extremely creative. It is very challenging. I guess the rewarding part is that you really give patients a new lease on life.  Make them productive and functional as possible. We help improve the quality of their life.”

            Sister Ramona was also an artist. Her paintings are of detail and of beauty, even as her eyesight began to fail her. She was an excellent instructor of painting and taught women at Neighbor to Neighbor to paint.

            She also excelled in lace-making! This was an original craft of our first Sisters in the 17th century in France and now blossoming again here in our congregation. Sister Ramona created many intricate and beautiful works of lace and was also an instructor of lace-making.  She was invited to create a lace tabernacle cover for a parish near Kansas City. Eventually, that same pattern was used to adorn the outside of the church structure.

            Ramona used her crafting skills in endless ways here at the Motherhouse! She created many centerpieces and projects upon request. And always, many of us signed up quickly to work with her.

            So much about Ramona cannot be captured in words. She lived with such energy, creativity and with presence to each person. Her joyful spirit was evident, even when she wasn’t feeling well. She lived with a positive attitude. She truly reflected the Jesuit saying, to live with “glad and practical cooperation” with God’s grace.

            Sister Ramona’s health began to fail her in the fall of 2019 and she was diagnosed with melanoma cancer in November. She lived this part of her journey with the same courage and energy, never withdrawing or losing hope. At the end of May, she wrote this message to all of us: “Spare me perfection. Give me instead the wholeness that comes from embracing the full reality of who I am, just as I am.” (David Brenner)

Her words: “…embracing the full reality of who I am” has led me to choose Hospice. Yesterday I made that decision and immediately knew an incredible peace in my spirit. I am grateful to God for that grace and grateful to each of you for the support I have known on this journey with melanoma …With gratitude beyond measure, Ramona.”

            These are her closing words in her life story in which she uses Jesus’ words from John’s gospel. “Loving and gracious God, ‘I have glorified you and finished the work you have given me to do.’ (John 14:4) Please welcome me to my/our ETERNAL HOME where I/we will rejoice and see you face to face.”    

To make an online donation in Sister Ramona Medina’s memory, click on the button below:

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Obituary for Sister Ramona Medina — March 14, 1937 – July 16, 2021

July 16, 2021 by  

Sister Ramona Medina died July 16, 2021, at Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia, Kansas. She was 84 years old and a religious sister for 66 years. She was born in La Jara, Colorado, on March 14, 1937, to Juan and Celina Romero Medina, the thirteenth of fourteen children, and was baptized Elvira Elidia. She entered the Atchison Benedictine Order in 1955, then transferred to the Sisters of St. Joseph, Concordia, Kansas, on Dec. 21, 1980. On Dec. 11, 1955, Elvira received the habit and was given the name Sister Ramona. She kept this name when she transferred to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, Kansas. She pronounced first vows on Dec. 16, 1956 and final vows on Jan. 1, 1959.

Sister Ramona received a B.S. in education in 1970 from Mt. St. Scholastica College, Atchison, Kansas. In 1983 she received a B.S. in occupational therapy from the University of Kansas. Sister Ramona worked as an occupational therapist in Shawnee Mission, Kansas City, Onaga, Ellsworth and McPherson, Kansas, and in Lakeland, Florida. She was elected to the Leadership Council of the Congregation in 1999 and served for eight years as a regional coordinator. In 2009 she co-founded the Neighbor to Neighbor ministry in Concordia, Kansas.

Sister Ramona was preceded in death by her parents, four brothers and six sisters. She is survived by two sisters, Sister Celinda Medina of Atchison and Sister Rebecca Medina of Framingham, Massachusetts; and one brother, Luis of Monte Vista, Colorado.

A Bible Vigil Service will be held 7 p.m. July 20 in the Nazareth Motherhouse Chapel with Sister Judy Stephens as the eulogist. The Mass of Christian Burial will be 10:30 a.m. July 21 in the Motherhouse Chapel, Father Barry Brinkman presiding. If you have not been fully vaccinated we ask that you wear a mask and social distance out of consideration for those who are immunocompromised.

The burial will be in the Nazareth Motherhouse Cemetery. Chaput Buoy Mortuary, 325 W. 6th St., Concordia, is in charge of arrangements.

Memorials for Sister Ramona Medina may be given to the Sisters of St. Joseph Health Care/Retirement Fund or the Apostolic Works of the Sisters; P.O Box 279, Concordia, KS 66901.

To make an online donation in Sister Ramona Medina’s memory, click on the button below:

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Eulogy for Sister Barbara Ellen Apaceller — June 5, 1946 – June 26, 2021

July 1, 2021 by  

Vigil: July 1, 2021, at the Nazareth Motherhouse
Eulogist: Sister Vera Meis

My deepest sympathy to you who are mourning the death of Sister Barbara Ellen Apaceller, our community, Barbara’s family, her sisters Anna and Linda and their children, cousins, her aunts, brother priests, bishops, former members of our community and the youth of the diocese.

Barb’s birth was unique. She was born in an Austrian train’s boxcar, enroute to Germany. The year was 1946 and the Russians had taken over the Apacellers’ native Hungary, so the family was headed for what they thought would be a better life.

Sister Barbara Ellen was known to most of us as “Sister Barb”— a woman of Great Love who touched the hearts of many people. She had a special gift of being able to relate to the youth of our Diocese. I believed Barb learned about loving and creating community from her mother, Barbara. Barb’s mother created a community with the children in the neighborhood by teaching them German songs and plays. She wanted them to know their heritage.

Barb had a special love for the youth of the Salina Diocese and desired to teach them the richness of their Catholic Faith. She loved them and they love her.

Barb was all about relationships, the importance of them which brought her to being nominated for the Extension’s Lumen Christi Award among many other forms of recognition.

The youth showed their love by attending retreats, going to National Catholic Youth Convention, helping with Prayer and Action and many religious programs. She had over 1,000 youth attend National Catholic Youth Conference. Other Diocese called Sister Barb with offers of a position in their Diocese. No one could miss the smile on Sister Barb’s face as she listened to the Young Church as they professed their faith in talks and actions.

Our Sister Barb had a deep and lasting love for the Church and her God and His people. She kept in touch with all the women who were in her group when she entered the convent. They formed a lasting bond with each other and continued to meet for years.

Our Sister Barbara Ellen had many challenges: she was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and had to take treatments for cancer. She also needed both knees replaced. Barb was like the “Energizer Bunny” constantly moving so she could get back to her ministry in a short time. She had many good friends. She related well with the Clergy beginning with getting to know them and supporting them in their ministry. They became friends. Sister Barb would stand up to them if she didn’t agree with them but always did that with respect. She respected them and they respected her.

Sister Barbara spoke of her prayer life. How she would give the first hour of the day to God in private prayer then would attend Mass.

In Barb’s name I wish to say to you what she would want me to say. “I love you.” She believed we should tell people we love how we feel. So if they are the last words we can say to them you and they will feel blessed.

So in her name I say to you:   “I LOVE YOU”

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Obituary for Sister Barbara Ellen Apaceller — June 5, 1946 – June 26, 2021

June 28, 2021 by  

Sister Barbara Ellen Apaceller died June 26, 2021, at her home in Salina, Kansas. She was 75 years old and a Sister of St. Joseph of Concordia for 56 years. She was born in Wittmannsdorf, Austria, on June 5, 1946, to Sebastian and Barbara Assmann Apaceller, the second of three children, and was baptized Martha Elizabeth Stefanie.

She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia on Sept. 8, 1964. On Aug. 15, 1965, Martha received the habit of the Sisters of St. Joseph and was given the name Sister Barbara Ellen. She pronounced first vows on August 15, 1966 and final vows on August 15, 1971.

In 1970 Sister Barbara Ellen received her B.A. Degree in Theology from Marymount College, Salina, Kansas. She taught in Fairbury, Nebraska. From 1976-84 she was part of a pastoral ministry team in western Kansas. Sister Barbara Ellen became the Director of Youth Ministry for the Salina Diocese in 1984 and remained in that position until her death.

Sister Barbara Ellen Apaceller was preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by two sisters, Anna Flaim of New Buffalo, Michigan, and Linda Fregeau of Aurora, Illinois.

A Bible Vigil Service will be held at 7 p.m. at Sacred Heart Cathedral, 118 N. Ninth Street, Salina, on June 30. The Sisters of St. Joseph and the family will receive friends from 5 to 7 p.m. A social will follow the wake service in the parish hall. All are invited to attend. The Mass of Christian Burial will be a private service for Sisters and family only at the Nazareth Motherhouse with Father Don Zimmerman presiding and Father Bill Surmeier and Father Barry Brinkman concelebrating. Sister Vera Meis is the eulogist. The burial will be in the Nazareth Motherhouse Cemetery. Chaput-Buoy Mortuary, 325 W. Sixth St., Concordia, Kansas, is in charge of arrangements. Memorials for Sister Barbara Ellen may be given to the Sisters of St. Joseph Health Care/ Retirement Fund or the Apostolic Works of the Sisters; P.O. Box 279, Concordia, KS 66901.

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Video of Funeral Mass and Eulogy for Sister Therese Blecha

January 7, 2021 by  

Please click this link to view the video of the Funeral Mass of Sister Therese Blecha which took place Jan. 7, 2021 at the Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia.

https://fb.watch/2T1kOpRTMN/

 

Eulogy for Sister Therese Blecha — April 15, 1941 – Jan. 4, 2021

January 6, 2021 by  

All of us, when reflecting on who Therese was at her core, have our own descriptions. What comes to mind for me is faithfulness. Faithfulness. When writing to Mother Helena asking to enter the novitiate in 1963, Therese wrote, “I have learned a great deal about God and loving and doing all for Him; the more I learn the more I desire to know and serve Him alone and so goes the cycle of love.” She further asked for God’s grace to “help her with that until He shall call me from this life.” That was Therese’s deepest hunger all those many years ago. Even with her diagnosis of Wegener’s Disease and especially in these past weeks we saw her remain resolutely steadfast in that desire.

Therese was born in Belleville, Kansas, on April 15, 1941 and baptized Eloise Ann. She was the second of six children born to Ernest and Eleanor Baxa Blecha. She had an older brother, Richard, and after her came Marjorie, Marie, Cathie and David. They grew up on a farm. She was educated in a one-room school house but said there were always three or four other kids in my elementary classes.

Therese’s main interests in high school were studying science, playing the flute in the band and singing in the chorus. She was homecoming queen during her senior year.

Therese had gone to public schools and so did not have contact with religious sisters except during Vacation Bible School in grade school.

After high school graduation one of her friends enrolled in Marymount College in Salina and so Therese was attracted to Marymount. Her advisor was S. Mary Grace who deepened her interest in chemistry. After her sophomore year she did mission work with Fr. Wempe in Alma, Kansas. This mission work including visiting all the homes in his parishes to talk about their family life but also to talk about their religious beliefs and practices. The home visits included non-Catholics as well as Catholics. Therese found this time very inspiring and life-giving. It helped her decide what she wanted to do with her life. She remembered the sisters from Vacation Bible School and those she knew at Marymount and entered the Sisters of St. Joseph at the end of her junior year. Incidentally, she entered the postulancy on her parents’ 25th wedding anniversary.

When she received the habit in August 1963 she was given the name Mary Therese. Later, in writing to Mother Helena asking to make temporary vows, Therese said, “The novitiate has enabled me to gain a deeper insight into religious life. I have begun to realize that the ordinary religious doesn’t travel the road the sanctity by jet but rather she must travel it day by day, sacrifice by sacrifice, trial by trial, with untiring effort. It may indeed be stormy weather at times but it is these difficulties which add to the joy of the religious for they are only visible proofs of God’s love.” After novitiate she returned to Marymount and graduated with a double major in chemistry and biology.

She began her teaching career at Saints Peter and Paul High School in Boonville, Missouri. As Therese said, “This was a challenge as I thought I knew everything about teaching but I quickly found out that I really didn’t know much at all. With the help of Sister Alexine Marie, I made it through the first year.” It was an exciting time because in addition to teaching all day, she helped with the music program, started the science fair, was in charge of class plays and proms, was the girls physical education teacher as well as head coach for girls’ softball, basketball and track. It was while coaching that Therese changed from the habit into secular clothing discovering it made running up and down the basketball court much easier.

Therese had a healthy ability to laugh at herself. She tells the story of being at Sacred Heart High School in Salina and deciding to change her teaching method from one of lecture-based to hands-on learning. After a while she asked the students how they liked this new method. They said, “Sister, this is so much better because you are so much less grouchy.” With a laugh Therese said she interpreted that in the most favorable sense and decided that meant that they got more individual attention.

Therese was asked to be a house parent at St. Joseph’s Children’s Home in Salina. She found working with children who are not wanted by their parents a real challenge but Therese threw herself into that and worked to make each child feel cared for and loved. Throughout the years since then Therese often told many stories from the Children’s Home because that ministry touched her so deeply.

Therese was an educator par excellence. She was a lifelong student herself. She had a degree from Marymount with a double major in chemistry and biology, a Master’s from the University of North Dakota in chemistry and biology, a second Master’s from Kansas State University in organic chemistry and a PhD from Kansas State University in chemical education.

Therese continued to be fascinated with nature, astronomy and natural things created by God. She had a special passion for wanting to teach people about science who were not scientifically minded. Her dissertation for her PhD was on the “Development of Demonstrations and Models to be used in Classes for Non-chemistry Majors.” Her whole purpose was to enable those students to develop a positive attitude and appreciation of science. She wanted others to experience that same joy of being in awe of God’s creation that she did.

After Marymount College closed she taught at Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Indiana, where she earned full professorship and tenure. Again, wanting to impart her love for science she developed a curriculum for teachers of elementary students enabling them to teach physics and chemistry to younger students. They were hands-on courses and she wanted teachers to teach the basic principles of science in a way that was fun and would encourage students to continue learning throughout their life.

In 1993 the Leadership Council challenged her again asking her to become treasurer of our Congregation. She accepted that position after much discernment and prayer. Therese acknowledged that she had no knowledge of accounting and financial management so, characteristic of Therese, she immediately threw herself into taking classes at the local community college and Kansas Wesleyan. Therese did find it difficult to go from being in a classroom interacting with people to being somewhat, as she said, “cloistered” in an office. In fact, she described that as quite traumatic for her but again we see the thread of faithfulness throughout her life. She threw herself into attending national meetings of treasurers, working with sisters and continuing to educate herself. That was Therese – willing to do whatever was needed. She held that position for 14 years leaving it in June 2008.

More recently, Therese served on the Leadership Council and served a second term as Vice-president of the Congregation She was just a few months into serving as vice-president when she became critically ill and was diagnosed with Wegener’s Disease. The disease affected her eyesight, her hearing, the loss of her hair, kidneys and more. Although Therese never complained it was a terrible burden for her to constantly wonder if her next pain or cough was a simple everyday pain or cough or whether it was the disease flaring up. Yet, when she could Therese continued to go into the office and serve the community as best she could.

Therese’s fervent desire prayed as a very young woman, “To know and serve God alone – the cycle of Love” can be seen in everything Therese did – her various ministries, her love of family and her Czech heritage – so proud of the people of Belleville, Cuba and surrounding areas, her appreciation for tasting beer from other countries, her affinity for music often cantering at mass, her true delight in following favored sports teams, her joy in God’s creation. One of Therese’s most notable attributes was her acceptance of people just as they were. Therese genuinely assumed the best in people.

Therese always said that her most precious possessions were her faith and her prayer life but quickly added that these would not be possible if not for the faith and prayer life of her community, family and friends. We bid farewell to Therese trusting her words that we have influenced her life and knowing that she has gifted us with her life and example in more ways than we can even know.

 

 

 

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