Celebrating Jubilee in 2021

Eight Clinton Franciscan Sisters celebrate their Jubilee, the anniversary of entrance into religious life, this fall. Sisters Beatrice Griffin, Donna Burke, Maria Zeimen, Carmel Jacobs, LaVern Olberding, Barbara Rosener, Janice Cebula, and Patricia Weldon have a combined 495 years of service to God’s people. Also celebrating 25 years as a Clinton Franciscan Associate is Robert Ketelsen. A public Mass and celebration have been postponed due to the ongoing pandemic.

 

Sister Beatrice (Bea) Griffin celebrates 75 years of religious life. She was born in Bird Island, Minnesota, and graduated from Alvernia High School in Chicago, Illinois. She entered the Sisters of St. Francis on September 8, 1946, and received the name Mary Therese Martin at her reception on June 16, 1947. She later resumed use of her baptismal name. She made her first profession on August 12, 1949, and perpetual profession on August 12, 1952.

 

Sister Bea earned a bachelor’s degree in education with minors in history and biology from San Diego College for Women, San Diego, California, and a master’s degree in education with a minor in special education from Peabody College, Nashville, Tennessee. She received a second master’s degree in religious studies from Seattle University, Seattle, Washington.

 

She began her teaching career at St. Gerald School, Oak Lawn, Illinois, where she taught second grade for five years. She later returned to St. Gerald School to serve as principal for six years.

 

The majority of Sister Bea's ministry was in California where she served as an educator and administrator at St. Catherine of Alexandria School, Riverside; St. Kieran School, El Cajon; Christ the King School, Oildale; St. Hyacinth Academy, San Jacinto; and Holy Rosary Academy, San Bernardino.

 

When Sister Bea returned to Clinton, Iowa, in 2004, she served as the official driver for sisters who were unable to drive. She then became the Coordinator of Assisted Living, which involved visiting sisters at The Alverno and shopping for them.

 

Sister Bea currently resides at The Canticle in Clinton.

 

Sister Donna Burke celebrates 70 years of religious life. She was born in Winner, South Dakota, and graduated from St. Joseph High School in DeWitt, Iowa. She entered the Sisters of St. Francis on September 8, 1951, and received the name of Donald Marie at her reception on June 16, 1952. She later changed her name to Donna Marie. She made her first profession on August 12, 1954, and her final profession on August 12, 1957.

 

Sister Donna obtained an associate degree from Mount St. Clare College, Clinton, Iowa; a bachelor’s degree in education from St. Ambrose College, Davenport, Iowa; a master’s degree in Elementary Principalship in Education from the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa; and a master’s degree in pastoral studies from Loyola University, Chicago, Illinois. She also holds a certificate in Cultural and Creation Spirituality from Holy Names College, Oakland, California.

 

For thirty-three years, Sister Donna ministered as a teacher and principal at schools in four states, including: St. Rita School, Cameron, Missouri; St. Ann School, Vail, Iowa; St. Columbkille School, Varina, Iowa; St. Kieran School, Chicago Heights, Illinois; Thorton Community College, South Holland, Illinois; St. Patrick School, Maysville, Kentucky; St. Patrick School, Clinton, Iowa; and Seton School, Clinton, Iowa.

 

She was appointed Director of Vocation/Formation at Mount St. Clare Convent in 1989, and Director of the Associate Partnership Program. Sister Donna relocated to Jesup, Iowa, in 1996 and accepted a position as Pastoral Associate at St. Athanasius Parish, where she served for twenty years until her “retirement” in 2016. She moved to Chicago, Illinois, for one year before returning to Clinton.

 

Currently residing at The Canticle in Clinton, she voluntarily ministers to the elderly through visits to members of Prince of Peace Parish who are in nursing homes, skilled care, or homebound.

 

Sister Maria Zeimen celebrates 70 years of religious life. She was born in Mapleton, Iowa, and graduated from Denison Public High School in Denison, Iowa. She entered the Sisters of St. Francis on September 8, 1951, and received the name Maria Goretti at her reception on June 18, 1952. She later asked to be known simply as Maria. She made her first profession on August 12, 1954, and her final profession on August 12, 1957.

 

She earned a bachelor’s degree in general science from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, and a doctorate in animal biology from the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.

 

She began a career in education teaching second grade at St. Gerald School, Oak Lawn, Illinois, and then high school science and math at Our Lady of Good Counsel, Fonda, Iowa. After obtaining her doctorate, she taught biology for sixteen years at Mount St. Clare College and Academy in Clinton, Iowa.

 

From 1980 to 1988, Sister Maria served as Pastoral Minister and teacher at St. Paul School and Parish in Macomb, Illinois, and as Pastoral Minister at Christ the King in Moline, Illinois.

 

Answering the call to congregational leadership, Sister Maria served as Vice President of the Sisters of St. Francis from 1976 to 1980, and again from 1984 to 1988. She served as President from 1988 to 1996, helping lead the congregation in choosing active nonviolence as its mission.

 

In 1993, Sister Maria was elected Vice President of the Franciscan Federation of the United States and served two years as its President beginning in 1995.

 

After her terms in congregational leadership, Sister Maria, as Community Leader, helped in founding L’Arche Chicago. She has also worked with L’Arche communities in Mobile, Alabama; Orange, California; Jacksonville, Florida; Clinton, Iowa; Bradford, Massachusetts; Kansas City, Missouri; and Spokane, Washington. She served as the Assistant Regional Coordinator of Central L’Arche USA from 2006 to 2011.

 

Currently residing in Chicago, Illinois, Sister Maria volunteers with VoteForward, Interfaith Community for Detained Immigrants, and Garden Center Services. She helps with assistant and staff formation for L’Arche communities.

 

Sister Carmel Jacobs celebrates 60 years of religious life. She was born in Clinton, Iowa, and graduated from Clinton High School. She entered the Sisters of St. Francis on September 8, 1961, and received the name Mary Carmel at her reception on June 13, 1962. She pronounced perpetual vows on August 12, 1967.

 

She received an associate degree from Mount St. Clare College, Clinton, Iowa; a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Marycrest College, Davenport, Iowa; a master’s degree in religious studies from Mundelein College, Chicago, Illinois; and a master’s degree in pastoral studies from Loyola University, Chicago, Illinois.

 

Sister Carmel taught elementary grades at St. Patrick School and Sacred Heart School in Clinton, and at St. Gerald School in Oak Lawn, Illinois. She pursued additional studies in art at Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan, before serving as an art instructor at St. Gerald School and Mount St. Clare College. She concluded her career in education working at St. Gregory School in Phoenix, Arizona.

 

After teaching, Sister Carmel served twenty years assisting marginalized persons at St. Vincent de Paul Society, Phoenix, Arizona, in the Family Assistance and Special Ministries department until her “retirement” in November 2019.

 

Currently residing at The Canticle in Clinton, Sister Carmel continues to support the mission of active nonviolence and peacemaking through study, discussions, emails, and letters. Studying the history of racism has had a big impact and has connected her more to the suffering of many.

 

Sister LaVern Olberding celebrates 60 years of religious life. She was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and graduated from St. Columbkille School in Varina, Iowa. She entered the Sisters of St. Francis on September 8, 1961, and received the name Mary LaVern at her reception on June 13, 1962. She pronounced perpetual vows on August 12, 1967.

 

She earned an associate degree from Mount St. Clare College, Clinton; a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Marycrest College, Davenport, Iowa; and a master’s degree in religious education from Seattle University, Seattle, Washington.

 

Sister LaVern served as a teacher, religious education director, and campus minister in four states, including: Danbury Catholic High School, Danbury, Iowa; St. Ann School, Lexington, Nebraska; St. Kieran School, El Cajon, California; St. Patrick High School, Maysville, Kentucky; St. Anthony School & Parish, Manteca, California; University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky; St. George Parish, Louisville, Kentucky; and Mount St. Clare Academy and College, Clinton.

 

She ministered as the pastoral care coordinator for Dismas Charities in Louisville, Kentucky, where she worked with felons at numerous halfway houses. During that time, she co-founded the Micah 6:8 community, an intentional, co-ed, young adult residence and outreach ministry for the Archdiocese of Louisville. Moving to California in 2004, she promoted active nonviolence and peacemaking while working as an Operations Coordinator for Atwood and Thompson, Inc. in Spring Valley.

 

Sister LaVern co-founded the Franciscan Peace Connection in La Mesa, California, in 2012. The Franciscan Peace Connection continues today as an outreach ministry of the Sisters of St. Francis offering opportunities for workshops, study groups, and training in active nonviolence, peacemaking, and life skills.

 

Sister LaVern resides in Lakeside, California, where she ministers as the director of the Franciscan Peace Connection, networks with numerous interfaith groups, and provides outreach to persons living on the margins. Sister LaVern serves as president of the 2021 board of directors of the Peace Resource Center of San Diego, where she works closely with other groups and organizations who promote nonviolence, peace, justice, equality, and equity for all.

 

Sister Barbara Rosener celebrates 60 years of religious life. She was born in Breda, Iowa, and graduated from Kuemper High School in Carroll, Iowa. She entered the Sisters of St. Francis on September 8, 1961, and received the name Mary Barbara at her reception on June 16, 1962. She pronounced perpetual vows on August 12, 1967.

 

She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Marycrest College, Davenport, Iowa, and a master’s degree in religious education from Seattle University, Seattle, Washington.

 

Sister Barbara served forty-three years as a teacher in four states, including: St. La Salle School, Reedley, California; St. Patrick School, Rochelle, Illinois; St. Catherine of Alexandria School, Riverside, California; St. Francis de Paula School, Chicago, Illinois; St. Patrick School, Maysville, Kentucky; St. Gerald School, Oak Lawn, Illinois; Holy Cross School, Vail, Iowa; and St. Edmond School, Fort Dodge, Iowa.

 

After retiring from teaching in 2006, Sister Barbara cared for sick and elderly persons for thirteen years. She worked in resident services at The Marian Home in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and later as a companion, caregiver, and housekeeper to elderly persons in private homes.

 

Sister Barbara resides in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and enjoys volunteering.

 

Sister Janice (Jan) Cebula celebrates 50 years of religious life. She was born in Goodland, Kansas, and graduated from Goodland High School. Prior to joining the Sisters of St. Francis, she earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education with a major in natural science from the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas.

 

Sister Jan entered the Sisters of St. Francis on August 11, 1971. She professed temporary vows on August 12, 1974, and perpetual vows on April 2, 1983. She initially served as a teacher at St. Justin the Martyr School in Sunset Hills, Missouri, and Sacred Heart School in Clinton, Iowa.

 

After teaching, she ministered over two years with the Missouri Catholic Conference in Jefferson City, Missouri. Her call to be an advocate for persons marginalized by poverty and unjust systems led her to study law at Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri, earning a Juris Doctor degree.

 

For the next twenty-three years she served as an attorney for Legal Aid of Western Missouri, Kansas City, Missouri, and volunteered at Holy Family House, a Catholic Worker house in Kansas City.

 

Answering the call to congregational leadership, Sister Jan was elected to the council in 1992 and served as Vice President from 1996 to 2000. She was President from 2004 to 2012 and again from 2016 to 2021. She was re-elected in May 2021 to lead her congregation another four years.

 

Between her terms in congregational leadership, Sister Jan worked as the U.S. Liaison for Global Sisters Report in Kansas City, Missouri.

 

Sister Jan is a board member for A Nun’s Life ministry and is a longtime advocate for social justice. She currently resides at The Canticle in Clinton.

 

Sister Patricia (Pat) Weldon celebrates 50 years of religious life. She was born in Chicago, Illinois, and graduated from Trinity High School. After graduation, she attended Mount St. Clare College in Clinton, Iowa.

 

Sister Pat entered the Sisters of St. Francis on August 7, 1971, and was received as a novice on June 1, 1973. She made her first profession on August 12, 1974, and perpetual vows on August 12, 1982.

 

She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Marycrest College in

Davenport, Iowa, and a master’s degree in administration from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

 

Sister Pat served as a teacher and principal in three states, including: St. Rose of Lima School, Denison, Iowa; St. Patrick School, Perry, Iowa; St. Kieran School, Chicago Heights, Illinois; St. Kieran School, El Cajon, California; and St. Michael Academy, San Diego, California.

 

Outside of education, she ministered as the Senior Services Coordinator at Catholic Charities in San Diego, California, where she managed social service needs of residents in diocesan housing units.

 

In 2003, Sister Pat accepted the position of Director of Religious Education at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Chula Vista, California. She later became the pastoral director of the De Flores Center at St. Rose of Lima and served in that position for nine years.

 

Sister Pat served the congregation as a Council member from 2000 to 2004. She presently serves as the Associate Partnership Coordinator for Clinton Franciscan Associates living in the western region.

 

Sister Pat resides in Spring Valley, California, and voluntarily ministers with the San Diego Catholic Worker.

 

Robert (Bob) Ketelsen celebrates 25 years as a Clinton Franciscan Associate. He became acquainted with the congregation in 1939 when he attended St. Patrick School in Clinton, Iowa, and had the sisters as teachers. “When I learned of the Associate Partnership Program, I knew I wanted to join. I have felt called to the community since kindergarten,” he said.

 

Bob committed to living the gospel and Franciscan values in association with the Sisters of St. Francis by becoming an Associate on October 20, 1996.

 

As the owner of a travel agency outside of Chicago, Illinois, Bob was instrumental in arranging pilgrimages to Assisi, Italy – birthplace of Saints Francis and Clare – for the sisters. He also arranged trips to Chulucanas, Peru, where the Sisters of St. Francis ministered from 1965 to 2018.

 

During his time as an Associate, Bob himself visited Chulucanas. “Sister Phyllis Morris really inspired me with the work she was doing in Peru,” he said. “I knew I wanted to do something similar to help people in need.” When it came time to retire from the travel agency in 1998, Bob offered his volunteer services at St. Mary’s Mission on the Navajo Reservation in Tohatchi, New Mexico, which was operated by Franciscans from Our Lady of Guadalupe Province, Albuquerque.

 

Bob helped open, and later manage, the Mission’s halfway house for men struggling with substance abuse. The house offered treatment and free room and board for those needing temporary help. He retired from St. Mary’s Mission in the spring of 2015 after eighteen years of service.

 

“Being an Associate has enriched my life. It really helped me mentally while working on the reservation,” Bob added. In August, he renewed his commitment to the Associate Partnership Program for another three years as a member of the Chicago region. He currently resides in DeKalb, Illinois.