Sister Bertha Bonert
Sister Bertha Bonert, the daughter of Anthony and Stasia (Arens) Bonert, was born in Dyersville, Iowa, the third of six children. She received her education at St. Francis Xavier Grade and High School. After working for a couple years, she entered the Sisters of St. Francis in September of 1962. Sister Bertha received her bachelor’s degree from Briar Cliff College in Sioux City, and a master’s in administration from the University of Northern Iowa. She taught in Remsen, Iowa; was principal in Petersburg, New Vienna and Aquin Elementary in Cascade, Iowa. In 1997, Sr. Bertha began her studies at the University of St. Louis-Missouri for a master’s degree in gerontology. After graduating in 1999, she became the Administrator at Stonehill Care Center in Dubuque. In 2014, after 15 years at Sonehill, Sister Bertha became the Coordinator for the Sisters living at Mount St. Francis Center. As she prepares for Jubilee, she comments, “Every day is gift. I am amazed at the surprises of each day, the many blessings I have received and the people who have been a part of my life.”
Sister Shriley Fineran
Sister Shirley Fineran was born in Odebolt, Iowa, to William and Mary Fineran. She attended high school at the Immaculate Conception Aspirancy of the Sisters of St. Francis in Dubuque. She has a bachelor’s degree from Briar Cliff University and a master’s degree from the Jane Addams School of Social Work, University of Illinois. Sister Shirley taught elementary school in Melrose Park, Illinois, and later worked for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago where she served as Administrator in Parish Social Ministry and Director of Regionalization. From 1991-2019, she was an Assistant Professor of Social Work and Director of Social Work Field Education at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa. She attained Professor Emerita status in 2020. In Sioux City, she has served as a board member for MercyOne Hospital Diversity, Leadership Siouxland, United Way of Siouxland Habitat for Humanity, Siouxland Unidad Latina, Boys and Girls Home and Family Services, and as a volunteer for Justice for Our Neighbor and Hospice of Siouxland. She collaborated with others to form Siouxland’s Habitat for Humanity, Food Bank of Siouxland, Siouxland Coalition Against Human Trafficking, and Lila Mae’s House. Among awards she received are the Quota Woman of the Year, Food Bank’s Founder Award, Iowa Governor’s Outstanding Service Award in 1993 and 2023, the War Eagle Human Rights Award, Women Aware’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Briar Cliff University Community Service Award and Spiritus Franciscanus Award, and one of Iowa’s Inspiring Women.
Sister Kay Forkenbrock
Sister Kay Forkenbrock, the oldest of her four siblings, was born in New Hampton, Iowa, to Everest and Eleanor (Blethen) Forkenbrock. She attended St. Mary’s, New Hampton, and New Hampton High School. She received her bachelor’s degree from Clarke College, Dubuque, in 1961. She holds master’s degrees from DePaul University, Chicago, and Mundelein College, Chicago. She also studied massage therapy at the Omaha School of Massage Therapy. Sister Kay served as a music teacher at St. Mary of the Woods Parish, Chicago, and Mater Christi Parish School, North Riverside, Ill. She also served on the Formation Team and was Liturgical Music Director for Mount St. Francis Center and was Director of Liturgy and Music at St. Patrick’s, Estherville, Iowa, and Corpus Christi Parish in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Sister Kay worked with the homeless at Project P.L.A.S.E. in Baltimore and John Lewis Community Services, Davenport. At the McCauley Center for Families in Omaha, Nebraska, she was a spiritual health advocate. Sister Kay returned to Dubuque and worked as a massage therapist at Wellness on Davis as well as Director of Liturgical Music Ministry at Mount St. Francis until her retirement in 2020.
Sister Sally Frommelt
Sister Sally Frommelt was born in Dubuque to Arthur and Dorothy (Link) Frommelt. She attended Holy Ghost, Immaculate Conception, and Wahlert High School. She received her bachelor’s degree from Briar Cliff College and her master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse. Seeing the joy of her great aunt, Sister Ruth Ann Frommelt, and her sister, Sister Nancy Frommelt, Sister Sally entered the convent in 1962. Sister Sally taught at schools in Melrose Park, Midlothian, and Niles, Illinois; in Iowa at Algona and Ankeny; and in Newark, New Jersey. She taught for 25 years at Bellevue (Iowa) Marquette. She also ministered at General Motors, Union, N.J., and in Africa at Gumbonzvanda, Wedza, Zimbabwe and Malakal, South Sudan. She spent eight summers volunteering with Common Venture. “Gratitude is the predominant feeling for this moment in time. I cherish all I have met on this journey of the last 60 years,” said Sister Sally of her Jubilee. “I know I am part of a plan and I thank the Planner for love so lavishly shared.”
Sister Rita Goedken
Sister Rita Goedken is the daughter of Alfred and Loretta (Koch) Goedken and is blessed to be one of their 12 children. She attended SS. Peter and Paul School in Petersburg, St. Boniface High School in New Vienna, and Briar Cliff College in Sioux City, Iowa. Later she did graduate work in counseling at Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, and in Franciscan Studies at Olean New York. Over the years, she taught at Aquin Elementary School, Cascade, Iowa; St. Joe, Bode, Iowa; St. Paul School, Eugene, Oregon; and Our Lady Help of Christians School, Saginaw, Michigan. Then she worked as Pastoral Minister/Associate at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Chesaning Michigan, St. Patrick Parish in Palms Michigan, and at St. Victor Parish in Monroe, Michigan. After serving on the Sisters of St. Francis’ Leadership Team, she traveled to Morton, Mississippi, and served as the Program Coordinator for the Learning Center there. Now living at Mount St. Francis Center, Sister Rita continues to be immensely grateful for a life of rich blessings. “God is good all the time. All the time, God is good!”
Sister Carol Hawkins
Sister Carol Hawkins was born in Decorah, Iowa, to Elmer and Evelyn Hawkins. She attended elementary and high school at St. Francis De Sales Catholic School in Ossian, Iowa. Sr. Carol received her bachelor’s degree from Briar Cliff College, Sioux City, Iowa, and her master of arts degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas. She served as a teacher in Iowa at St. Mary’s, Dubuque and Waterloo; Pastoral Minister in Chile; Pastoral Outreach Minister among new immigrant communities of Iowa for the Diocese of Sioux City; a marriage and family therapist for Catholic Charities in San Antonio, pastoral minister and therapist in Gracias, Lempira, Honduras. She currently resides at Francis House in Dubuque, serving in support ministry. “As I reflect on 60 years living as a religious, I am amazed and very grateful to God and to my Franciscan Community for such a variety of ministry experiences among/with faith-filled people of different countries and cultures. The blessings, enrichment and memories of these years provide me with great cause to celebrate,” she said.
Sister Laurinda Hefel
Sister Laurinda Hefel was born in Dubuque, Iowa, the sixth of twelve children born to the late Harold and Lorraine Hefel. Sister attended Sacred Heart School, Immaculate Conception Academy, and graduated from Wahlert High School in Dubuque. Later, Sister graduated from Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa. Sister Laurinda served at Holy Ghost School in Dubuque, St. Francis School in Dyersville, and All Saints School in Portland, Oregon. Presently, Sister serves at St. Christopher’s Parish and School in Midlothian, Illinois. In addition, Sister has been an active member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society for many years giving ministry to the less fortunate. “Celebrating 60 years as a Dubuque Franciscan brings me to the reality of my blessings and gratitude. My vocation to Religious Life began with the influence of my 8th grade Franciscan Teacher. I am most grateful for my call to the Dubuque Franciscans and my family, Franciscan Sisters, and friends who have supported and challenged me these 60 years.”
Sister Janice Hoffman
Sister Janice Hoffman and her brother, Glen, grew up on a farm north of Hartley, IA with their parents, Richard and Lena Hoffman. The family was active in St. Joseph Parish, Hartley. She attended Hartley Public School and Immaculate Conception Aspirancy, Dubuque. She received a bachelor’s degree in music from Briar Cliff, Sioux City, Iowa, and a master’s in music from the University of Portland, Portland, Oregon. During her ministry she served at Sacred Heart, Dubuque; St. Anne, Hazel Crest, Illionos; and St. Paul, Eugene, Oregon. where she taught music and art. From 1985 to 2019 she served as liturgist/music director and RCIA coordinator at Immaculate Conception Parish in Cherokee, Iowa. “As a member of the Dubuque Franciscans, I have enjoyed being part of something greater than myself,” said Sister Janice. “I’m grateful for the many people who have been part of my life during these years.”
Sister Virginia Jennings
Sister Virginia Jennings was born in Des Moines, Iowa, the second of three children of Louise and George Jennings. Her mother died when she was three. Later her father remarried and two children were born from this marriage. Virginia attended school in Nebraska and Sioux City, Iowa. After graduation, Virginia entered the Dubuque Franciscans on September 3, 1962. She was received as a novice on August 10, 1963, and professed final vows on August 12, 1970. She received her bachelor’s degree from Briar Cliff University and a master’s degree from Creighton University in Omaha. She also attended the International Institute for Religious Formation at the University of St. Louis. Sister Virginia was a teacher and principal in Parish schools in Illinois and Iowa. She served as the Initial Formation Director for the Congregation and as a Vice-President. Twenty years of Pastoral Ministry in the Diocese of Des Moines at St. Ambrose Parish and Ss John and Paul in Altoona provided a wide range of ministry experiences. Sister Virginia is now enjoying retirement at Mount St. Francis Center in Dubuque. She celebrates her 60th Jubilee with a deep sense of gratitude for the all the gifts of her life as a Franciscan, the opportunities to serve God’s people, and God’s
Sister Melita Meyers
Sister Melita Meyers was born in New Hampton, Iowa, the fourth of five children to the late Cletus and Amelia (Hub) Meyers. Her home parish is St. Boniface in Ionia, Iowa, where she attended grade school and high school. She graduated from Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa. She taught in Melrose Park, Illinois, and in Iowa at St. Mary’s, Remsen; St. Catherine’s, Opens; St. Catherine’s south of Dubuque; St. Mary’s, Waterloo; St. Joseph’s, Raymond; and Visitation School, Stacyville; and in Wisconsin at Sacred Heart School in Reedsburg. She has spent summers teaching in Kentucky, Illinois, Colorado, and Harlem, New York. Presently she ministers in the CLC Public School After-School Program in Reedsburg. Sister Melita co-wrote a math resource book for primary teachers and has given presentations at state and national math conventions. She received the Golden Apple Teacher Award in 2003. She has also been privileged to work with hospice patients and was a volunteer night chaplain at Allen Hospital in Waterloo. “These past 60 years have been filled with countless blessings. I have been totally spoiled by my God, my Franciscan community, my family and friends.”
Sister Helen Nelson
Sister Helen Nelson was born to George Chapman and Marie Nelson in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and was blessed by the presence of six siblings. She was educated in parochial schools in various parts of the U.S. Sister Helen has a bachelor’s degree from Briar Cliff College and a master’s degree from Seattle University. She has been a primary educator for 47 years at St. Ann’s, Hazel Crest, Illinois; St. Paul’s, Eugene, Oregon; and for 34 years at St. Edward’s, Waterloo, Iowa. She was named a McElroy Gold Star Outstanding Teacher and received the Iowa Teacher of the Year recognition for the Archdiocesan Schools. She also served the Franciscan congregation as Director of Sister Services and as Co-director of Franciscan Associates. Sister Helen was involved in many parish and civic activities, including being a hospice volunteer for 28 years, the President of the Archdiocesan Board of Education and going on mission trips for 23 years. Presently, she is retired and lives at Clare House in Dubuque. She is filled with deep gratitude for all who have walked hand in hand with her and blessed her life with their goodness through the past 60 years.
Sister Inez Turnmeyer
Sister Inez (Janet) Turnmeyer was born in Dubuque, Iowa to Don and Rose (Frick) Turnmeyer, the second of eight children. She attended grade school at Holy Ghost and high school at Immaculate Conception Academy and Wahlert Catholic High School, graduating in 1962. She entered Mount St. Francis and was perpetually received in 1970. She earned a bachelor’s degree in theology from Briar Cliff College, Sioux City, Iowa, a MA (Education) from St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota, a master’s of arts degree in administration from St. Thomas, in St Paul, Minnesota, and has an Honorary Ph.D. from Loras College, Dubuque. She taught primary grades in Waterloo, Sibley, and Oyens, Iowa, and Midlothian, Illinois. She then served as teacher/principal in Sioux City and Pocahontas, Iowa. She also served in community-sponsored institutes at Holy Family Hall, the Alverno Apartments, and was the Director of St. Mark Community Center. Sister Inez served as Co-Director for the Humility of Mary Sisters, Davenport, Iowa, until her retirement in 2017. She resides at Clare House at Mount St. Francis Center now where she volunteers for switchboard, companioning Sisters to appointments and night emergencies, as well as helping in the Sweet Shoppe. In Dubuque she volunteers at the Grand Theater, the Bell Tower and the Arboretum. In her spare time, she enjoys spending moments with family and friends, traveling, reading, partying and helping others. “Jubilee is a time for me to share my time, my God given talents and blessings with the people whom I come in contact with,” said Sister Inez. “Blessings on all of you who have touched my life during these last 60 years in God’s service.”