Eulogy for Sister Vera Klaus: March 26, 1931-Jan. 27, 2016
VIGIL: Jan. 31, 2017, at the Nazareth Motherhouse, Concordia
EULOGIST: Sister Mary Jo Thummel
This is basically Sister Vera’s life review, which she wished read for her eulogy.
Sister Vera was born (Lucille Anita Klaus) to Paul A. Klaus and Catherine (Wasinger) Klaus in Ellis Kan., on March 26,1931 and baptized in St. Mary’s Church in Ellis three days after her birth. Vera was the youngest of six siblings. She had three brothers (Francis, Andrew and Severin) and two sisters (Henrietta and Pauline). Her sister Pauline Marie Brown is the only surviving sibling.
The earliest memory that I had that stayed with me all her life is this: I never remember my mother or father saying, “Go out and play or stay out of the way.” I received a little pat on the head or shoulder and was given something to play with in the house. When Dad listened to the lessons from the others, even though I was 4 years old, he would say, “Your turn.” He placed a pencil in my hand and taught me to write my ABC’s capital and small. He also taught me the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be and the Apostles’ Creed of which I have to admit, I had a dickens of a time memorizing the Creed.
My parents’ faith was deep. I am so grateful for the seed they implanted in all of us. I went to Mass three times on Sunday at age 6 because I thought the choir “people” really sang nice. I even went to Vespers to hear the men’s choir sing that one song. I know now that they sang De Profundis (Latin). I was trying to find out what they found (they found this).
We said the Rosary every evening kneeling on the floor with a chair in front of us in which we placed our hands and made us a little more comfortable. If company came, they simply joined us and the visiting continued afterwards.
I tried out waiting tables in Marie’s Cafe for six months (night duty), then I tried out waiting tables in the City Cafe for six months. It just wasn’t for me. I tried out helping one of Mom’s friends who was with child for three weeks on their farm. I knew for sure that was not for me. These were summer jobs.
Although I graduated from St. Mary’s grade school in Ellis with honors, I begged Mom and Dad to let me work one year and then go to high school. I got a job through Mr. Miller who worked at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Hays, Kan. I knew that was my life, to help take care of sick and elderly people that needed assistance.
After a year and two months at the hospital, I met Tina Appelhans (our Sister Gilberta). I had written a letter to Mother Chrysostom asking how to go about entering, not knowing what I was going to do about my future. I received a response, not mentioning entering the convent at all. The letter was so meaningful; it made me feel that this wonderful woman was actually speaking to me. Tina saw me and said. “That sure must be a nice letter, you’re smiling while you’re reading it.” Without even thinking, I said, “Here, read it.”
Tina said, “Oh good Lord! I want to go there but not alone.” Without even blinking an eye, I said, “I’ll go with you.”
The letter said something about Feb. 9 and March 19. It was now Feb. 1, 1948. We both went to the administrator of the hospital and told her we were resigning and entering the convent. She was elated and called to three sisters passing by and said, “Sisters, the girls are going to enter the convent.”
After they found out it was the Sisters of St. Joseph and not the Agnesians (the order that ministered at the hospital), it caused a little hullabaloo because they thought we were entering their Order. Nevertheless they gave us a send off with 23 girls and 12 nuns attending. The presents and gifts given were definitely “nunny” — sewing boxes, Missal etc. I have never regretted this decision. The Administrator said, “God bless you, we’re all working for the same God”.
Gilberta and I wrote postcards back and forth daily so that we knew what each of us was purchasing. I’m sure the mailman got a kick out of those daily postcards between Ellis and St. Peter.
Even Sister Ermalina, my aunt, did not know I was entering and said, “I can’t claim you as my postulant.” As she did when I entered, I hope she is there to welcome me into heaven with a smile.
At 75 years old I was still going strong after a bit of a rough start. My first mission was in Herdon, Kan. I was there for only four months when I had to have an appendectomy. I came home to the Motherhouse and later had to go back to the hospital for a tonsillectomy.
I became a dietician in 1966 and went directly with my internship from St. Joseph Hospital, Wausau, Wis., to Belvidere, Ill., our brand new hospital. After 11 years I was asked to go to Sabetha, Kan., and help turn over the hospital to the city at which time I set together a new Hospital Diet Manual.
After we left the Sabetha Hospital, I was sent to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Concordia, 150 bed hospital although we always had 162 patients (12 patients in the halls).
After the first year I was asked by Mother Therese Marie to go to St. Louis University to study to become an Administrative Food Service Director. While there, I learned to read professional blue prints, makeup and carry through my own floor plans for a new refrigeration freezer section and put in an electric belt-line system, which I did at St. Joseph Hospital for the $43,000 that Bob Fischer allocated to me. I stayed in this position as department head for 11 years.
I retired from dietetics after 21 years and became trained clinically in physical therapy from the Topeka Arthritis Foundation. I set up therapy equipment and a treatment room at St. Mary’s Convent in Concordia. I ran it with doctor’s orders for the Sisters for 24 years. Then I moved to Nazareth Motherhouse and set up equipment and ran that for three years, also had 23 clients for foot care at St. Mary’s Convent Concordia, 30 in Grand Island, 45 at Nazareth Motherhouse and 23 to 25 in Salina.
I retired at 70 years old and got a job as volunteer at Mount Joseph Senior Village performing the duties as Eucharistic minister. I am grateful for a full life, always balanced with prayer, good works and yes, good food.
I’m not finished but looking back on my life at this time — I’m still going strong. I’m up at 5 a.m., to Mount Joseph at 9 a.m., Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday five hours and Thursday six hours and Friday half-day.
I’ve forgotten to mention that I’ve had a TIA, a stroke, but came through fine. I’ve had four heart catheterizations with two stents. I’m a diabetic over 10 years at this time, no insulin or other meds, slight impairment.
I could go on but all in all, I’ve enjoyed life, weathered my ills, always leaving my bedroom with the words, “Here we go, dear God, you and I.” Then I meet whatever the day brings.
I can’t thank my congregation or family enough for all they’ve done for me. God bless them all.
Vera wrote these words in 2007 and continued going strong for nine more years. As she said, she left her room each day going with God and meeting whatever the day had in store for her. These last years of her life were a time of prayer and suffer both of which she offered each day for the congregation and the needs of the world. She enhanced our world with her determined sense of self, lovely singing voice and dry sense of humor.
Vera, we hope that you and God are now truly walking together as you desired.
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Memorials for Sister Vera Klaus 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 Vera’s memory, click on the button below: