Sisters celebrate anniversaries

Photos and information courtesy of Jean (Wagner) Merry, ’84, and the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi

Eight of the 14 Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi who celebrated their anniversaries of religious profession at a Jubilarian Mass in July 2018 are graduates of Cardinal Stritch University and two of the 75-year honorees also served on the staff. The 14 represent 855 years of service as vowed women religious. The Reverend Richard Smith, a cousin of Jubilarian Sister Charlotte Roost, O.S.F., officiated at the Mass celebration.


All four of the 75-year jubilarians earned degrees from Stritch. Sisters Margaret Jo Brown, ’51, and Noreen Zehnpfennig, ’50, graduated with music degrees and became teachers. In addition to teaching in Wisconsin, Ohio and Iowa, Sister Noreen was a music teacher at St. Mary’s Academy and Cardinal Stritch University. She also gave private piano and voice lessons. Sister Margaret Jo spent 32 years as a music teacher in Illinois, South Dakota and Colorado before becoming a pastoral assistant for 13 years at St. John Parish in Longmont, Colorado.

Sisters Patricia DeLany, ’50, and Justine Peter, ’50, both graduated with degrees in English. Sister Patricia was a grade school teacher for more than 50 years in Wisconsin, South Dakota and California, with several of those years spent as a principal in two Wisconsin grade schools. Sister Justine also began her ministry in elementary schools in Wisconsin and Illinois, but went on to earn master’s and doctoral degrees in history. She joined the Stritch staff in 1954 as a history instructor. She later served as academic dean, taught geography as well as history, and was the alumni coordinator and coordinator of corporate and foundation contacts. She was a professor of history at the university from 1982 until her retirement in 2011. Since that time she has continued there as a volunteer. (See stories about Sister Justine’s 2016 Mother Bartholomew , OSF, Lifetime Achievement Alumni Award and 2011 retirement.)


Celebrating 70 years were Sisters Mariella Boehmer, ’57, and Magdalena Paul. Sister Mariella, a Stritch graduate with a degree in history, taught elementary grades in Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, South Dakota and California for 50 years. She went on to earn a degree in library science and a master’s in administration.



Three of the four jubilarians marking 60 years – Sisters Kathleen Denevan, ’73, Barbara Faris, ’67, and Ruth Marie Soens, ’69 – are graduates of Stritch. Sister Ruth Marie spent the first 21 years of her ministry as an elementary school teacher, and then 25 years in various areas of service at St. Coletta of Wisconsin in Jefferson, which is where Sister Kathleen began her ministry years as a child care worker. After nine years there, Sister Kathleen continued working in child care and then as a teacher at various institutions in Wisconsin while working on her degree in educational psychology. After earning a master’s in social work, she began her career in counseling-related fields in Massachusetts, including Norfolk State Prison, where she continues to volunteer as a chaplain. Sister Barbara initially was an elementary school teacher for 15 years in Wisconsin and Illinois. After earning a master’s degree in religious studies, she switched to pastoral ministry, serving Native Americans in Montana for almost 10 years. Subsequently, she was a pastoral assistant in New Mexico, and then a chaplain in Wisconsin, California and Oklahoma for another 17 years. In retirement, she has returned to Montana as a volunteer serving Native Americans. The fourth 60-year jubilarian, Sister Marianne Muscott, is a graduate of the College of Notre Dame.


Sisters Charlotte Roost, Joanne Schatzlein, and Diana Tergerson, celebrated 50 years of vowed religious life, and all three are members of the congregation’s staff at the Motherhouse. Sisters Charlotte and Joanne have both served on the administrative team of the congregation and presently head up congregational offices at the Motherhouse. Sister Diana has been the congregation secretary since 1980 and, in that capacity, she has served 12 administrative teams.



Sister Clara Wang, a native of China, is the congregation’s 25-year jubilarian. She has ministered at a variety of health and counseling ministries in the United States and Taiwan.

A recording of the 2018 Jubilarian Mass is available for viewing on the congregation website, The congregation has approximately 170 professed members in the United States and Taiwan.
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Visit the congregation website, (under Sisters Today>Recorded Events), to see a recording of the Jubilarian Mass. The congregation has approximately 170 professed members across the United States and in Taiwan and more than 300 worked at Stritch since 1937 .