Sister Antonia (Tonie) Rausch passed away June 17, 2017.

Sister Antonia (Tonie) Rausch passed away June 17, 2017. May she rest in peace.
STonieRausch2011_StoryMargaret Antonia was born on Easter Sunday, April 16, 1933, in Ortonville, Minn. From her earliest days she was known as Tonie. She was the eleventh of 14 children born to the late Val and Katherine (Holthaus) Rausch. Tonie grew up near lovely Big Stone Lake in South Dakota. She attended the local public school where most of her classmates were Protestant. From that experience, Tonie learned to be open and respectful toward all religions. It was through her close relationship with her younger sister, Betty Ann, afflicted with Down Syndrome, that she learned to relate with sensitivity to the less fortunate.

Tonie loved to play school, teaching her younger sisters, nieces and nephews. The enjoyment of this early teaching experience stayed with her as she taught at all levels throughout her life. Tonie attended St. Francis High School in Little Falls, Minn. After graduation in 1951, she was accepted as a Franciscan Sister and given the name Sister Mary Karen. She was a Franciscan Sister for 65 years.

Her teaching experience began in the local diocesan grade schools. Sister Karen spent quality years teaching American History and Art Studies at St. Francis High School. She was a gifted and creative teacher, always challenging her students to open their minds to new and innovative ideas. When the school closed, she, with much enthusiasm, opened the Office for Justice and Peace for the Franciscan Sisters, tasting the first challenges of many years of justice work in many different milieus. Moving on to a new mission in west Tennessee, Sister Tonie prepared herself in community organizing, applying it in the six counties in which she served. She also taught in the local Literacy Program as a Vista Volunteer.

In 1986, Sister Tonie was missioned to Tanzania in East Africa, where her efforts were in teaching and helping to set up and organize programs in three different areas: Chanjale Seminary in Samé diocese, Cheju Preparatory School on Zanzibar Island and Enkigarett School in a Maasai village north of Arusha. Living in this wide variety of cultures, Sister Tonie had ample opportunity to witness the many ways in which people follow the gospel message.

In 2003, Sister Tonie returned to Minnesota ready to utilize all her experiences in new ministries. The arrival in St. Cloud of significant numbers of new immigrants and refugees, many from distressed African countries, provided an outlet for her creative energies. She moved quickly into teaching English as a second language in the public school system, moving onward to founding a new organization, Hands across the World. In partnership with Brianda Cediel, the organization developed a unique program offering instruction in many fields, according to the needs of the students. To this day, the school flourishes with 60-100 adult students attending a variety of classes.

Sister Tonie was a down-to-earth person who had a reverent love for all of God’s people, especially the poor and oppressed and reached out to them in whatever way she was able. She served in many different capacities, including elementary and secondary teacher, Leadership in her Franciscan community, social justice coordinator, rural life director, food co-op coordinator, missionary, community organizer, jail ministry and promoter of inter-religious dialogue with the Muslim community. She spent much energy searching for ways to create a more livable and peaceful environment for all creation, fulfilling her prophetic commitment on her entrance to the Franciscan Sisters, “I want to make the world a better place!”

Sister Tonie was preceded in death by her parents and her siblings: Armand, Eugene, Norbert, Rev. Ervin, Betty Ann, Severine, Florentine, Lorraine, Herman, and Jerome. Survivors include siblings: Sister Rose Mae, Josie (George) Vania, Paul (Liane); sisters-in-law: Jane, Harriet and Shanti; nieces and nephews and her Franciscan Community.

Services for Sister Tonie will be held at St. Francis Convent, Little Falls.

Visitation: Friday, July 14, 4:00-8:00 p.m. with Franciscan Prayer Service at 7:00 p.m.

Visitation: Saturday, July 15, 8:30-11:00 a.m. with Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00 a.m.



Comment as Anonymous change
Saturday, Jul 8, 201711:55 am
Sr. Karen - as I knew her, was an impressive woman who instilled her passion for art, for justice, for always having a ready smile and care for others--in me as her student in what became the last graduating class from SFHS, class of 1977. I'm sorry I won't be able to attend her services but wanted to convey my lasting admiration for her and my heartfelt sympathy to her family, colleagues and friends. - Mary Ann Gwost Hennen ('77)
Friday, Jul 7, 2017 2:53 pm
Sister Tonie Rausch was a senior when my sister and I were freshmen at St. Francis HS.. I didn't know her but her name seems familiar. She sounds like a wonderful person, devoted to Christ and His brothers and sisters. I am sure she is resting peacefully with God and His blessed Mother. She and all the other Franciscan teachers were such a fine example of Christian love and service to their students. My sisters and cousins received a very fine education at St. Francis. I am ever grateful and I continue to carry on the teachings today as a great grandmother who is active in my church's ministry and Faith in Action group. I also taught English in a Catholic school and religious education to public school children. Sister's efforts will go on in the many persons that she touched throughout her holy life. .
Thursday, Jul 6, 2017 8:45 am
Sister Rose Mae, we are sorry for the passing of your beloved Sister Toni. May God comfort you, and all the Sisters. Sister Toni lived a full life and touched many lives. May she rest in eternal peace. Ted & Angie Davis
Sunday, Jul 2, 201711:39 pm
Sr Tonie will be highly missed by many whose lives were touched in many different ways by her. She did incredible and tremendous job in Tanzania and changed lives of many in unspeakable way. May the good Lord reward her with everlasting life in Heaven. Josephat cpps

Follow Us:   Twitter-Logo1


Find Us:

116 8th Avenue SE
Little Falls, Minnesota



(320) 632-2981

Contact Form

Security Check
Please enter the text below
Can't read text above? Try another text.

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.


Throughout this web site, we provide links to other web sites, solely for the user's convenience. By providing these links, we assume no responsibility for, or do we necessarily endorse these web sites, their content, or their sponsoring organizations.