Leadership of the Sisters of St. Francis of Dubuque is a ministry of service not only to the congregation but to the church and world.

From left to right: Sisters Pat Clemen, Kathy Knipper, Brenda Whetstone, and Maureen Leach.

It is work that is shared among the members with those in leadership serving a term of six years. At the end of this time, as St. Francis says, the community ministers lay down the role as easily as one lays down a towel after washing feet. Four sisters work together in this service. They support the members in their mission and common life, and tend the corporate good of the Congregation.

Currently Sister Kathy Knipper serves as President and Sisters Pat Clemen, Maureen Leach, and Brenda Whetstone serve as Vice Presidents.

About the Team

Sister Kathy Knipper served as vice president for the Sisters of St. Francis Leadership Team since 2014. Her previous ministries include associate professor of education at Briar Cliff University, Director of Curriculum for the Diocese of Sioux City and teacher in elementary schools in Holy Cross, Iowa; Waterloo, Iowa; and Dubuque. Sister Kathy graduated from Clarke University, Dubuque, has a master’s degree from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota, and a doctoral degree from the University of South Dakota, Vermillion.

Sister Pat Clemen served as Catholic Charities’ coordinator for Parish Health Ministry in Jackson, Mississippi, and volunteered at Excel Learning Center in Morton, Mississippi, teaching CPR. She lived in Mississippi since 1978 and previously served in Jackson as the Quality Improvement Director at Sta-Home Health and Hospice and DRE/RCIA Director at the Cathedral Parish. Her nursing experience includes coronary care supervisor, health facility surveyor, and school health consultant. She received her bachelor of science in nursing at Marycrest College, Davenport, Iowa, and master’s degree in theological studies at Springhill College, Mobile, Alabama.

Sister Maureen Leach ministered as a Spanish/English interpreter and worked as a licensed massage therapist specializing in hospice care in San Antonio, Texas.  In her 35 years of ministry experience in Texas, she ministered as a social service worker with the National Farm Worker Ministry, a teacher trainer/adult education instructor, and an education coordinator at Visitation House Transitional Housing.  She also served in church ministry in rural Guatemala and as activities director at Stonehill Franciscan Services in Dubuque. She edited a book of essays on healing from trauma and co-authored a book on the Psalms. Her bachelor’s degree in Spanish is from the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls.

Sister Brenda Whetstone served previously as a nurse at Lackey Convalescent Home in Forest, Mississippi, and a volunteer at EXCEL, Inc. in Morton, Mississippi. She also served in pastoral care in Gracias, Lempira, Honduras, and in Dubuque as a nurse at Stonehill Franciscan Services, and Holy Family Hall, at Mount St. Francis Center. Sister Brenda received a bachelor’s degree in theology from Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa. Following graduation, she served in the United States Army where she received her licensed practical nurse training from St. Philip’s College in San Antonio.