On a windy, stormy night, June 7, 1939, Antonette Marie Kalis was born at St. Gabriel’s Hospital in Little Falls, Minn., to the proud parents, Anthony and Kathryn (Quigley) Kalis. Big brother, five-year-old William, and his parents welcomed Antonette to their home in Royalton.
For many years, Anthony owned and operated a garage in Royalton, while Kathryn supported him in his work and cared for their children and grandmother. The family schedule revolved around the work at the garage.
Antonette attended grade school and began high school in Royalton. In her sophomore year, she enrolled at St. Francis High School as a day student. After graduation from high school, Antonette attended St. Mary’s School of Nursing in Rochester and became a registered nurse. Later, she studied at Cardinal Stritch College in Milwaukee, and earned a degree focusing on persons with developmental disabilities.
Frequent visits during her childhood to her aunt, Franciscan Sister Mary (Leonissa) Kalis, as well as friendships with high school teachers, led her to enter the Franciscan Community. Antonette was accepted into the Franciscan Community on July 31, 1961, and received the name Sister Mary Latona. Her first profession of vows was on August 12, 1963, and her final vows on August 12, 1968. She was a Franciscan Sister for 55 years.
Sister Latona had an exceptional talent in dealing with people and especially loved being with the elderly. It has been said of her, “She knows how to respond to older people, how to keep their minds at attention and keep them at ease.” In the 20 years that she served at St Otto’s Care Center, she helped plan and oversaw the construction of the new facilities, Alverna Apartments and St. Camillus Place. Sister Latona was very innovative in establishing the first Adult Day Care in Minnesota, and the fourth such service in the entire nation! Her love for the less fortunate led her to coordinate the opening of 10 group homes for the developmentally disabled in western Minnesota. She said, “These people are wise in their simplicity and limitations. They keep me constantly aware of the true value of life.” Sister Latona believed that life was about forming community in which we support and care for each other.
Throughout her religious life she ministered as a staff nurse, director of nursing, director of mentally challenged and special services, administrator, RN consultant and served in the Franciscan Sisters Leadership. Since 2008 she ministered as the Director of Health Services and Planning for her own sisters.
Sister Latona employed her artistic and creative talents in decorating and beautifying areas in which she served; her hobbies included counted cross-stitch and card-making. One of her outstanding projects was the creation of a hardanger altar cloth which she made as a Jubilee gift for her aunt, Sister Mary Kalis.
She was preceded in death by her parents and brother, William. Survivors include her sister-in law Mary Kalis of Zeeland Mich., her niece Cathy Bailey (Mike) of Zeeland, grandniece Madison, grandnephew Carter and her Franciscan Community.
A Mass of Christian Burial will take place at St. Francis Convent on Tuesday, September 27, at 11 a.m. Friends may call at St. Francis Convent on Monday, September 26, from 4-8 p.m., with a Franciscan prayer service at 7 p.m. and from 8:30 a.m. until the time of the funeral on September 27, at 11 a.m. Arrangements are by Emblom Brenny Funeral Home, Little Falls.
Donations to Franciscan Sisters Ministries preferred.