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‘In the Footsteps of a Saint’

This photo, taken in the 1950s, depicts many Sisters of Providence during Father Fichter’s silver jubilee. The sisters in the photo either were from Jasper or ministered there.

You all know the story by now, but it’s worth repeating.

On October 22, 1840, six Sisters of Providence from Ruille sur-Loir, France, journeyed to Indiana at the request of the bishop of Vincennes to help educate the many Catholic immigrants who were settling in the area.

The sisters – including Saint Mother Theodore Guerin – established the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, and in less than a year, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College was born.

Only two years after coming to America, the Sisters of Providence were asked by Father Joseph Kundek to help educate girls at the St. Joseph Parish in Jasper, a very strong Catholic area which includes the Holy Family and Precious Blood churches. At the time, Father Kundek’s congregation included mostly immigrants from Germany.

From 1842 to 2002 (160 years!), the sisters ministered at the parish.

And on Saturday, March 18, the church will recognize the Sisters of Providence and Saint Mother Theodore Guerin during its 175th anniversary, aptly named “In the Footsteps of a Saint.”

According to information provided by the church, a total of 218 Sisters of Providence have ministered at Saint Joseph Parish, as well as Precious Blood, Holy Family, 5th Street School, 10th Street School and Jasper Middle School.

More than 70 Sisters of Providence are from Dubois County – where Jasper is located – or its neighbor, Spencer County (see list below). Sixty-five of those sisters were from Saint Joseph Parish!

Sister Mary Ann Lechner attended Saint Joseph School prior to becoming a Sister of Providence in 1947. She said the sisters’ presence at the school encouraged her to become a women religious.

“I always loved and admired the sisters,” Sister Mary Ann said. “I think becoming a Sister of Providence was for me.”

Sister Mary Ann added that 11 of the Sisters of Providence who attended Saint Joseph School are still living, including herself and Sisters Ruth Ellen Doane, Mildred Giesler, Betty Hopf, Mary Beth Klingel, Lucille Lechner, Margaret Norris, Dorothy Rasche, Annette Schipp, Louise Schroeder and Marie David Schroeder.

According to Saint Joseph Parish history, 189 Sisters of Providence ministered in the parish from 1937-2002. Of those sisters, 13 taught more than 10 years there. The church does not have the number of sisters who taught there from 1842-1937.

Sister Margaret Norris taught at the school for 33 years, while Sister Ann Clementine Lee (RIP) taught there for 32 years. In addition, Sister Winifred Mary Sullivan taught at the school for 25 years.

The school has since closed and the last academic year a Sister of Providence ministered there was 2001-02. However, Sister Carolyn Bouchard ministers as the director of Healing at the church.

Many events will take place during the March 18 ceremony. At 2 p.m., Providence Associate Sandra Hartleib will present “In Her Own Words,” a dramatic presentation based on “The Journals and Letters of Mother Theodore.”

Mass will take place at 4 p.m., with Bishop Charles C. Thompson serving as the celebrant, and a dedication of a statue of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin will take place following Mass. The statue was sculpted by Jasper resident Nick Ring.

Sisters of Providence who entered from Dubois and Spencer Counties

Notes: * indicates a sister who is still living

Sisters’ Names  (formerly known as)                Surnames                        Entrance-Death

Victorie                                                                                 Eckert                                   1847-1884

Clare                                                                                      Kiefer                                    1847-1913

Felicita                                                                                  Melchoir                              1847-1889

St. Ange                                                                               Denning                               1850-1870

Mary Louise                                                                       Jochim                                  1855-1915

Mary Blandine                                                                   Morgenroth                       1860-1928

Raphael                                                                                Eberhard                             1862-1916

Rosina                                                                                   Baumert                              1866-1935

Ann Therese                                                                      Kunkler                                  1969-1918

Mary Fidelia                                                                       Sermersheim                         1969-1936

Mary Albertine                                                                 Sonderman                            1970-1923

Symphorosa                                                                       Fischer                                  1870-1936

St. Fidelis                                                                             Ackerman                           1870-1920

Mary Aline                                                                          Friedman                             1871-1873

Otillia                                                                                     Eckert                                   1873-1941

Clarissa                                                                                 Kuebler                                 1877-1945

Mary Aquila                                                                        de Bruler                             1883-1915

Augusta                                                                               Sonderman                        1885-1934

Mary Georgina                                                                  Mehringer                          1885-1945

Ann Elizabeth                                                                    Baumert                              1886-1924

Herman Joseph                                                                  Eck or Egg                         1888-1945

Mary Gervase                                                                   Pfeffer                                 1891-1942

Mathilda                                                                              Mundy                                 1892-1942

Ann Fidelia                                                                          Werner                                 1892-1951

Mary Bertrand                                                                  Werner                                   1903-1948

Mary Angela                                                                      Jahn                                       1903-1963

Mary Constance                                                               Pfau                                       1905-1952

Miriam Joseph                                                                  Betz                                       1906-1918

Mary Ursalina                                                                    Sermersheim                     1906-1966

Frances Ann                                                                       Jahn                                       1907-1919

Mary Agreda                                                                      Schaaf                                   1907-1984

Mary Hermana                                                                  Kluemper                            1907-1964

Roberta Marie                                                                   Kluemper                            1908-1973

Caroline                                                                               Hopf                                      1911-1971

Martha                                                                                 Hopf                                      1912-1985

Therese Louise                                                                 Burger                                  1914-1974

Marie Adelaide                                                                 Mertens                              1916-1986

Helena                                                                                  Renner                                 1917-1969

Mary Henry                                                                        Brames                                 1919-1993

Agatha Marie                                                                     Jahn                                       1921-1969

Rose Imelda                                                                       Pfeffer                                 1927-1945

Mary Benedict                                                                  Goetz                                    1928-1994

Imelda Therese                                                                 Gutgsell                               1929-2000

Theresa Eleanor                                                               Blessinger                           1930-1988

Olivia                                                                                     Blessinger                           1932-1969

Edith                                                                                      Pfau                                       1933-2001

Mildred Anne                                                                    Dudine                                 1935-2012

Paul Marie                                                                          Gutgsell                               1936-2005

Rose Therese                                                                    Welp                                     1939-2004

Bernice                                                                                 Kuper                                    1940-2013

Cecilia Anne                                                                       Miller                                    1940-2013

Annette *                                                                           Schipp                                   1940-

Catherine Alberta                                                            Kunkler                                 1941-2009

Charles Louise                                                                   Kluesner                              1941-2002

Marie David *                                                                    Schroeder                           1941-

Mary Rosita                                                                        Thewes                               1943-2009

Louise * (Edward Louise)                                              Schroeder                           1943-

Mildred * (Alma Joseph)                                              Giesler                                  1944-

Ann Clement                                                                     Voegerl                                 1944-2005

Rosemary (Norbert Ann)                                              Kluesner                              1946-2011

Mary Ann *(Robert Ann)                                              Lechner                                1947-

Margaret *(Marie Angeline)                                       Norris                                    1949-

Lucille *(Mary Louis)                                                       Lechner                              1951-

Mary Marcellus                                                                 Moeller                                1951-1997

Frances (Mary Pauline)                                                    Rees                                       1953-2003

Ruth Ellen *                                                                        Doane                                   1954-

Rita (Veronica)                                                                  Lechner                                1955-2010

Dorothy *(Rose Martin)                                                  Rasche                                  1959-

Betty *(Barbara Francis)                                                Hopf                                      1961-

Martha *(Martha Joseph)                                            Wessel                                 1962-

Mary Beth *(Mary Hope)                                             Klingel                                   1964-

Mary *(Jolene)                                                                 Mundy                                 1964-

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Jason Moon

Jason Moon serves as media relations manager for the Sisters of Providence. Previously, he spent more than 16 years in the newspaper industry.

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1 Comment

  1. Brenda Dotterweich on March 9, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    Yes loved this my mother two sister were nuns the blessinger

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