By Jessi Russo
Sisters of St. Francis Communications Director
In her office on the third floor of Mount St. Francis, Sister Liz Hilvers reminisced about her years as the congregation’s Liturgy Director. “When we [as a community] start praying and singing together, we produce something so beautiful,” said Sister Liz, smiling. “We become more than we are, beyond what any individual could do.”
After 35 years as the Liturgy Director for the congregation, Sister Liz retired in July. In her role with the congregation, she facilitated the planning and coordination of all the liturgies–from daily Mass and Liturgy of the Hours to feast days–collaborating with the chaplains and Liturgy Committee at Mount St. Francis.
“She put all her heart into the songs she listed for liturgy each day,” said Sister Cathy (Kate) Katoski in her reflection at a prayer service for Sister Liz. “She gave feasts their splendor and festivals their solemn pomp causing God’s holy name to be praised and our chapels to resound from dawn to dusk.”
It was 1978 when Sister Liz was asked to take the role with the congregation. She was serving at Holy Trinity Parish in Dubuque and also carting her xylophones and guitars to teach music at Sacred Heart and Holy Ghost schools. Before she began her ministry as Liturgy Director, she studied for her master’s in liturgy at the University of Notre Dame. She returned to Mount St. Francis in 1980 where she has served since.
During her years of ministry, Sister Liz also had a unique role with the congregation as Recreation Director for 10 years in which she coordinated activities, trips, and the ever-important July 4 fireworks display. While planning Masses and teaching the sisters square dancing might sound like two different ministries, Sister Liz found that their purpose was similar. “Leisure produces no monetary product–nor does worship–but they enhance our interior spiritual wholeness,” said Sister Liz.
Though Sister Liz helped her fellow sisters to play, it was how she could help them pray that was life giving to her in her 35 years at Mount St. Francis. “The greatest joy is to go to a Sunday mass or a big celebration Mass and be sitting there with the sisters and hear how well they pray and how well they sing,” said Sister Liz. “It’s just a joy to know that I have done something to enable them to offer that gift and it’s wonderful.
“I think of Mother Xavier standing next to God on the porch of Heaven listening to us
at Mass and saying, ‘Just look at how they are praising You!’”