Remember Sister Agnes (Alcantara) Goode, OSF

Agnes_GoodeHospitality and generosity permeated the life of Sister Agnes who, in her words, “took delight in the service of hospitality to all guests.” Born into a family of 11 children, Agnes wrote, “teaches a person to share, apologize and work together.” She enjoyed happy memories of each of her ten brothers and sisters and credited each with “giving me a gift of themselves.”

She was born to William and Ruth (Maechtel) Goode on October 25, 1928. The generosity of spirit of her parents fostered the same in her and her 10 brothers and sisters. They taught them about God and the Church.

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Remembering Sister Rosemary (M. Robert Therese) Small, OSF

Rosemary_Small_webLate in the evening of February 22, 2013, drawn by the powers of Heaven, with God’s wisdom to guide her, God’s hand to guard her, and the way to God lying before her, our sister, Rosemary, took leave of those whom she loved in this life and readied herself to proclaim the ancient words that would herald her entrance into eternal life: Thagann chun cinn agam inniu – “I arise today.”

From the day of her birth, on June 30, 1935, Rosemary took great delight in surprising others. Joined by her beloved twin brother, Robert, she truly amazed her unsuspecting parents, Michael and Mary Agnes (Mulligan) Small) as only twins can do. As the treasured daughter of first generation Irish immigrants, Rosemary was baptized at St. Leo’s Parish, dedicated to the Trinity, and entrusted to the care of Mary, Queen of Ireland. Full of wonder and curiosity, she possessed a keen intellect, a gentle sense of humor, a kind heart and a determined spirit. Welcoming the birth of her dear sister Nancy, she enthusiastically assumed the role of lifelong “big sister” and readily embraced the values of her faith-filled, devoted and hard-working family. Growing up in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago’s south side in the aftermath of the Great Depression, Rosemary’s childhood was lived amidst the uncertainties and insecurities of a world at war. Ever mindful of her own Irish heritage and immigrant roots, she learned from an early age to be attentive to issues of justice and human dignity. Making the most of every opportunity made available to her at Sacred Heart Parish, Rosemary attached herself with great affection to the Joliet Franciscan Sisters who fostered in her a growing sense of her own vocation to religious life.

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Remembering Sister Marian (Louis Marie) Voelker, OSF

Marian_Voelker_webOn Saturday, February 9, 2013, our sister, Marian Voelker peacefully made her journey home to God. Sharing with her beloved Mother Alfred a lifelong devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes, after whom she was named and whose feast day was close at hand, Marian rested confidently in the knowledge that at the hour of her death she would not be alone. Graciously living out her faith-filled “Fiat,” she quietly reached the end of her days and entrusted to the God of History the final chapter in the story of her life.

Born on October 18, 1935, Marian Bernadette Voelker was the sixth of ten children to be lovingly welcomed into the world by Robert and Marian (Schilling) Voelker. As a young child, Marian and her family lived in close proximity to her Voelker grand-parents from whom she acquired an inter-generational appreciation for “living histories.” Growing up in East St. Louis, Illinois, Marian’s inquisitive mind and historical imagination were stirred at an early age as she began to make meaning of the joys and sorrows of life as seen from the banks of the Mississippi River, the railway crossroads of the Midwest and a city that was an urban crucible of rapid social and economic change. Nurtured in the faith at St. Elizabeth’s Parish and educated by the Adorers of the Blood of Christ at St. Teresa’s Academy, she was drawn to religious life, yet uncertain as to where her envisioned vocational path would lead.

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Remembering Sister Mary Wilhelmine Tikva, OSF

Mary_TikvaIn the fall of 1911, Adam and Mary (Ohman) Tikva welcomed into the world of Cleveland, Ohio, the first of their eight children, a precious baby girl whom they named Mary. The pride and joy of her parents and a devoted older sister to her siblings, Mary was a constant companion to her mother who was often in poor health, and an eager assistant to her industrious father whose home brewery and beer garden provided her with a lifetime of tales to tell. As a young girl, she applied herself as a diligent student at Holy Family school, ever-grateful for the education she received from the Sisters of Notre Dame. As an adolescent and a young adult, she contributed to the well-being of her family by working tirelessly for seven years in a nearby clothing factory both days and nights. Treasuring her Croatian immigrant roots and eager to know more of her family background, she accompanied her mother on a memorable three-month trip to Yugoslavia at her father’s initiative. In the course of her journey, she entered into the lives of loved ones whom she would never forget, embracing traditional customs and cherishing special foods and clothing, yet becoming painfully aware of the realities that had led her parents to immigrate to the United States in their youth. Declining a proposal for marriage, she came to a deeper awareness of her American identity and the unfolding future that awaited her upon her return.

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Remembering Sister Margaret (Jean Marie) Duffy, OSF

Duffy_Margaret_webSister Margaret Duffy (Jean Marie) was a native of Columbus, Ohio, and was one of eight children born to James and Susan (Handiboe) Duffy. She was preceded in death by her parents, her brothers: John, Edward, Joseph and Billy; and her sisters: Sister Mary Duffy, OSF, Catherine Hoffman and Terese Weisenbach.

Before entering religious life, Sister Margaret was a member of St. Thomas Parish in Columbus, Ohio, and attended the parish grade school. She graduated from St. Mary High School in Columbus and earned a bachelor of arts degree from the College of St. Francis (University of St. Francis) in Joliet, Illinois, and a master of arts degree from DePaul University in Chicago.

Margaret Duffy was a “go to” person in all her roles in life. Margie, as the family called her, was from her earliest days blessed with a pleasant disposition which she always attributed to the Handiboe genes. She would take life as it came and with a flexibility and straight forward, no nonsense approach that endeared her to many. When Margaret met the Sisters of Saint Francis from Joliet at Saint Mary High School in Columbus, Ohio, she immediately knew her calling to be a Sister. Mary Duffy, her oldest sister, was communicating with the Sisters about entering herself, but times were hard and Mary was, for a while at least, the only full time worker in the family, using skills honed in her business courses at St. Mary’s. Margaret knew that after graduation she, too, would have to help support the family, and she did so for two years working at the U.S. Army Depot as a secretary to Colonel Morrill. But in January of 1944, Margaret left home to enter the postulancy. The advice of her father that morning was, “Do what the Sisters tell you to do.” Margaret would recall those words many times during her nearly 70 years in our Congregation, and she rightly believed that she followed them.

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Remembering Sister Grace (Gretchen) Straub, OSF

Straub_GraceOn the afternoon of October 22, 2012, our Sister Grace Straub found herself counted among those blessed servants whom the Master found waiting upon his arrival (Lk 12:37). Returning to God with graciousness all that she had graciously received, she died as she had lived, welcoming the gift of God, revealing his handiwork, and entering ever more deeply into the mystery of what it means to be created in Christ Jesus for good works (Eph 2:9-10).

Born to her loving parents, Edwin and Alta (Kirkpatrick) Straub, on November 10, 1934, Grace was the fourth of five children. Baptized and educated at St. Peter’s Parish in Mansfield, Ohio, she came under the influence of the Joliet Franciscan spirit as a child. From an early age, Grace, together with her sisters Rita and Helen, was mindful of the fragility and vulnerability of life. The death of her infant brother, Philip, and the special needs of her beloved sister, Patty, made her particularly sensitive to the preciousness of each person entrusted to her care.

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Remembering Sister Patricia (Antonita) Vaira, OSF

vaira_webShortly after midnight on July 31, the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, our sister Pat/Patricia/Patsy peacefully entrusted herself for all eternity to the loving and gracious God to whom she had offered her liberty, her memory, and her entire will. Those who accompanied Pat during the final years of her life knew all too well that Pat not only prayed the well‐known prayer of St. Ignatius, she also lived it.

Born to Anton and Lucy (Jewett) Vaira on October 5, 1931, Pat was the third of six children. Growing up in South Wilmington, Illinois, Pat understood from a young age the preciousness and fragility of life. Mindful of the childhood deaths of an older sister and brother, Pat was attuned to the importance of living each day with gratitude, generosity and joy. She was a member of St. Lawrence Parish and attended South Wilmington Elementary School. After graduating from South Wilmington High School, she began her undergraduate studies at the College of St. Francis. It was there that she first experienced the inspiration, friendliness and concern of the Joliet Franciscan Sisters who made up the faculty and the staff. Under the influence of Sister Miriam Edward (Loretta Wagner), Pat was supported in her attraction to Franciscan life and encouraged to enter the Congregation, which she did her sophomore year when she entered the Postulancy on September 4, 1950. The following August 12 she entered the Novitiate receiving the name of Sister M. Antonita. On August 12, 1953, she made First Profession of vows.

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Remembering Sister Martin Hornak, OSF

Hornak_Martin_webOn Friday afternoon, May 4, 2012, as the Church concluded a week of prayer and reflection dedicated to the Good Shepherd, our Sr. Martin Hornak responded without hesitation to the tender voice she had longed to hear. Lovingly called by name, the Good Shepherd, to whom she had entrusted her life of consecration and mission, enfolded her in His arms, close to His heart, and gently carried her home for all eternity.

Born to her parents Johanna (Zalubi) and Martin Hornak on May 17, 1917, Julia entered a world where England and Germany were waging war, a world where miraculous events were taking place at Fatima, and where the Chicago Cubs triumphed over the Boston Braves four days in a row. Baptized at Sacred Heart Parish on Chicagoʹs west side, Julia was initiated into the faith and ethnic heritage of her Slovak ancestors and deeply influenced by the customs and character of a vibrant immigrant community. One of five children, she learned from an early age onward the importance of family and friendship, the centrality of religious commitment and cultural identity, and the necessity of education and the arts. Throughout her life, she would promote these values as she empowered others to cultivate them from one generation to the next, from one culture to another.

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Remembering Sister Johanna Didier, OSF

Johanna_webOn the evening of March 6, 2012, as the glow of Sister Moon filled the starlit night skies of Goiás, beams of light fell upon Saint Genevieve Hospital in Goiânia. It was there that Sister Johanna Didier was called forth by the Holy Trinity and Our Lady to embark on her final missionary journey. Dying as she had lived, she responded with readiness and confidence: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord! Let it be done unto me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38). And so it happened that Sr. Johanna made her way to the gates of heaven with a smile on her face and a rosary in her hand.

Born to her parents Aloysius and Emma (Geimer) Didier, on March 19, 1918, in Evanston, Illinois, Martha Josephine was baptized five days later at St. Nicholas Church. The fourth of fifteen children, she attended St. Mary Parish School and St. Patrick Academy in Des Plaines, Illinois. On September 8, 1936, at the age of eighteen, she entered the Congregation as a postulant. In August of the following year, she was received as a novice and given the name Johanna in honor of St. John the Baptist her patron and model for mission. Two years later, she professed her first vows, went on to complete her undergraduate studies at the College of St. Francis and soon thereafter began her ministry of teaching. As time for her final profession drew near, Sr. Johanna included in her request to Mother Thomasine a solemn pledge that gave expression to the principle and foundation for her consecrated life: “I will strive to be a religious according to the heart of God and the spirit of our Congregation.”

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Remembering Sister Jean Lenz, OSF

Lenz_webOn the morning of January 21, 2012, as Sister Death tenderly accompanied our Sr. Jean on her journey home to God, we, as her sisters, along with her family members, friends and caregivers, came to understand ever more fully the mystery of God’s action in the life of a very special person: God made Sr. Jean Lenz because God loves stories.

On May 20, 1930, Gertrude and Joseph Lenz welcomed their precious firstborn child into the world of Chicago’s Southside. Baptized into Christ on June 8, 1930 at St. Martin Church, Alice Eugenia Lenz began her life‐story of discipleship. A treasured daughter and a dearly beloved older sister to Ray, Jack and Trudy, Jean was recognized in her childhood and adolescence as a natural‐born leader, a person of memory and vision who always had a story to tell. She attended St. Martin School and went on to complete her secondary education with School Sisters of Notre Dame at the Academy of Our Lady (Longwood). In 1948, Jean began her under‐graduate studies at the College of St. Francis where she met the Joliet Franciscans. As a junior, she began to seriously consider a vocation to religious life. Inspired and encouraged by the College sisters who she came to know and love as teachers, mentors and friends, the words of Francis of Assisi began to echo in her own heart: “This is what I wish, this is what I seek, this is what I long to do with all my heart.”

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