Eight Franciscan Sisters celebrate 60-year Jubilee

60th Jubilarians

The Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls will honor eight of their sisters who will celebrate 60 years as members of the Order on Sunday, August 9, 2015. These sisters represent 480 years of dedicated service to the people of God in the spirit of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi. They have served in varied ministries throughout the United States and the world. A Mass of Thanksgiving will be celebrated at St. Francis Convent, Little Falls, followed by a dinner and reception for invited guests.

The 60-year jubilarians include Sisters Loretta Beyer, Loretta Denfeld, Bernice Ebner, Jan Kilian, Louise McKigney, Trudy Schommer, Jean Schwieters and Mary Hope Uphoff, who entered the novitiate at St. Francis Convent on July 31, 1955, and made their final profession of vows on August 12, 1960.

Originally from Tintah, Sister Loretta Beyer has ministered as a house parent at the St. Cloud Children’s Home and as a nurse’s aide in Onamia. In 1972, along with Sister Louise McKigney, they ministered in the African American community in Lexington, Miss., as organizers and advocates for social justice issues. They helped organize an effort to protest discrimination in hiring and police brutality. They have both served as social services advocates representing claimants for disabilities and other programs. Sister Louise McKigney, originally from Westport, previously ministered in food service in Little Falls, Onamia and St. Cloud. Both sisters currently reside and minister in Tchula, Miss.

Sister Loretta Denfeld, originally from Foley, has ministered as a teacher in Little Falls, Alexandria, Elk River and Osakis; and in missionary work in Maracay, Venezuela, and for a brief time in Monterrey, Mexico. She helped to establish a Catholic presence in an area of western Tennessee.  She currently ministers in Spiritual Care for the elder sisters along with Spiritual Direction in Little Falls. She says, “After 60 years of commitment to this Franciscan Community of living the Gospel as a daily call to ongoing conversion, I look back with gratitude for all that has been.” She strives to be peaceful and nonviolent in all her relationships which contributes to peace and nonviolence in our world.

Sister Bernice Ebner’s hometown is Elk River. She was active in Moorhead for 12 years in the areas of nursing, anesthesia, respiratory therapy and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. She has ministered as president/CEO of St. Francis Hospital, Breckenridge, St. Mary’s Home in St. Paul and St. Therese Home in New Hope; Health Planning Consultant in Edina, executive director for Catholic Services for the Elderly in St. Paul. Since 2000, she has ministered as the director of Gift Planning for the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls. She looks at her 60 years in religious life as good years full of blessings and special graces.

Originally from St. Augusta, Sister Jan Kilian has ministered in areas of counseling, keeping hospital records, administrative duties, and at the House of Prayer and Office for Peace and Justice. For the past 17 years, Sister Jan has provided hospitality for guests at Clare’s Well Spirituality Farm in Annandale. She is now retired and in the discernment process in Annandale. She comes to celebrate her 60th jubilee with gratitude for the goodness and compassion of God present in everyone and everything gracing this planet earth with her, as well as deep gratitude for all who continue to widen her perspective of what it means to be so inter-related.

The hometown of Sister Trudy Schommer is Wayzata. Her years of ministry include teaching upper grades in St. Cloud, Fergus Falls, Little Falls and Waite Park. She served in the field of religious education in Morris, White Bear Lake and New Ulm; Morrisonville, N.Y. and Bryantown, Md.; She was involved with campus ministry and teaching of theology at the Newman Center in St. Cloud and was an adjunct faculty member at St. John’s University, Collegeville. She has also ministered in Lanesboro and Preston. Sister Trudy is currently retired at the Motherhouse in Little Falls and is involved with transportation and the Motherhouse Sacristy. Sister Trudy enjoys outdoor activities where she can appreciate nature in all its beauty.

Originally from Freeport, Sister Jean Schwieters says her journey of ministry seemed to always put her in touch with beginners. She taught primary grades for 21 years in the schools of the St. Cloud Diocese. She has also ministered in parish ministries, spent nine years as a formation minister for her Community and served five years on the Leadership Team of the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls. Today she serves her Community as liturgical minister for the Franciscan Sisters. She says, “Each step of this journey has grounded me in the conviction that I am going in the direction that will eventually bring me to the completion of the fulfillment I seek. Only the gift of mutual faithfulness on the part of God and me has kept me steadfast along the way.”

Sister Mary Hope Uphoff is originally from New Munich and was a registered nurse. She ministered in Sauk Centre, Alexandria, Moorhead, Little Falls and Hastings; Milwaukee, Wis. While at St. Ansgar’s Hospital in Moorhead, she worked in oncology giving chemotherapy treatment to cancer patients. Through this closeness to the patients, she felt she received so much more than she gave. She felt her faith was strengthened and she learned about acceptance, the importance of each day to herself and to all of those she was able to reach out. As she looks back over her 60 years, she says they were the years of growing and becoming, years that were never static but always moving her to new days of aliveness, appreciation and hopefulness. She lives in a spirit of joy and gratitude and resides in Little Falls.



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The Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, Minnesota, is a community of Catholic women religious who follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ, walking in the footsteps of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi. We believe that the living of a poor, simple and prayerful community life is a ministry of presence and witness. Our doors are open to the public to celebrate Mass in Sacred Heart Chapel and to benefit from the St. Francis Music Center and St. Francis Health & Recreation Center. We welcome those who wish to join us as sisters, associates, volunteers, transfer sisters, friends and donors.


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