Four jubilarians: Four unique ministries

Four Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross are celebrating their jubilees during 2012.  The celebration will culminate on Aug. 12 when the community of Sisters and Associates gather for a Mass and reception in Green Bay. If you would like to send a greeting to these or any of our Sisters then we invite you to use our online form.

Sister Louise Hunt

Hunt_Louise_Sister_100pxNew Hope, Wisconsin, seems an appropriate birthplace for Sister Louise Hunt who, in her 70 years of ministry, has visited the sick, fed the poor and educated the young.

Born and raised in this central Wisconsin town, she is the oldest of John and Lauretta Hunt's six children. Through her parish, St. James in Amherst, Sister Louise met the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross.  It was the Sisters who prepared her to receive the Sacraments.

Sister Louise entered the Community in 1939 and earned bachelor's degrees in education and English from St. Norbert College in De Pere, and a master's in English from Marquette University. For 22 years she taught in Catholic elementary schools in Allouez, Darboy, Howard, Peshtigo and Madison. She also taught literature for nine years at Abbot Pennings High School in De Pere. Then, for the next 20 years, Sister Louise worked in pastoral care at St. Patrick Parish in Green Bay where she was well known for the food pantry she ran. In her writings, she once described the pantry in these words: "During the year thousands of bags of food are deposited at our door so that we in turn can refill bags for those who need them. Almost daily, and sometimes many times a day, these precious bags exchange hands. This is, indeed, a holy task."

After retiring Sister Louise continued to serve as an active volunteer in outreach to the elderly at Fort Howard Apartments, Fort Howard/Jefferson Neighborhood Resource Center and Brown County Senior Center.

Her contributions have been recognized over the years.  In 1992, the City of Green Bay gave her an honorary key and the Green Bay Area Exchange Club gave her its highest honor, the Book of Golden Deeds. St. Norbert College bestowed the Distinguished Achievement Award in Education in 1989 and the President's Medal in 1995.

Sister Louise says, "Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God gifted me with the courage to do what seemed difficult at the time. In all things God's love strengthened me. My community (of Sisters) always supported me."


Sister Joanne Kinjerski

Kinjerski_Joanne_Sister100pxA native of West Kewaunee, Sister Joanne (Barbara) Kinjerski was born June 12, 1930, the ninth of Isidore and Stella (Knipp) Kinjerski's twelve children. The family belonged to St. Hedwig Parish (now St. Therese of Lesieux).

Prior to entering St. Francis Convent in Bay Settlement on Oct. 4, 1951, she worked for four years at the Hansen Glove factory in Kewaunee.

Sister Joanne graduated from St. Norbert College in De Pere with a bachelor's degree in elementary education. For twenty-seven years she taught in Catholic elementary schools in Bay Settlement, Bear Creek, Green Bay, Howard, Marinette, Osman and Tonet. She then served as a health caregiver/housekeeper for fourteen years at the McCormick Memorial Home in Allouez.  

Since 1996, she has provided sewing and laundry services for Sisters at the Motherhouse. In her free time, Sister Joanne makes rosaries from rose pedals, a labor of love that was featured in the May 18, 2012, edition of The Compass newspaper.

"I never regretted my life as a religious."


Sister Monica Rose Bongert

Bongert_Monica-Rose_Sister100pxBorn July 24, 1944, to Frank and Mary (Wallace) Bongert, Sister Monica Rose Bongert is the third of five children. Home visits from her aunt, Sister Rosanne Wallace, and cousins Sisters Ambrose, Louis and Bertilla Nichols strongly attracted her to the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross.

Sister Monica attended St. Vincent Catholic Grade School in Oshkosh. She continued her education at the pre-novitiate of the Sisters of St. Francis operated on the property of Our Lady of Good Help Chapel in New Franken (now known as the Shrine). From there she moved to the novitiate at the convent on Bay Settlement Road.

After professing vows she completed a bachelor's degree in elementary education at St. Norbert College in De Pere. She taught for ten years in various Catholic schools while working on a master's in educational administration at UW Madison. This degree led to serving as principal along with teaching for 17 years.

In 1992 Sister's ministry moved in a new direction. Clinical pastoral education at St. Luke's Hospital in Milwaukee and a master's degree in pastoral care and counseling from Loyola University in New Orleans prepared her for ministry to the sick and dying, their families and co-workers. Sister has worked for 21 years in hospital chaplaincy in the South and in Northeastern Wisconsin; she currently is ministering at St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay.

"These have been blessed years.  They have passed swiftly and joyfully."


Sister Maria Drzewiecki

Drzewiecki_Maria_Sister100pxSister Mary "Maria" Drzewiecki was born in Green Bay in 1943 to Zigmund (Zeke) and Rose Drzewiecki. She grew up in Duck Creek (now Howard) along with her older brother, Leon, where they attended St. John the Baptist Catholic School.  Her excellent teachers included Sisters Mary Grace, Rose (LaPorte), Mary Joseph and Joan.  After high school at St. Joseph Academy, she entered St. Francis Convent in 1961 where she discovered the joys of having many "sisters."

After profession of vows, Sister Mary taught school for two years at St. Matthew in Allouez and one year at Holy Angels in Darboy (now Holy Spirit of Kimberly/Darboy).  Then she volunteered for a new mission being considered by the Community: to collaborate with the Capuchins working in the Atlantic region of Nicaragua. After finishing an elementary education degree at St. Norbert College in De Pere, she studied Spanish for six months in Mexico.

Then began the greatest adventure of her life:  twenty-six years of pastoral teamwork in evangelization and the formation of lay ministers for the rural zone of eastern Nicaragua.  These formation programs focused on the preparation of deacons and lay leaders who served as catechists, rural teachers (including adult literacy), health promoters, midwives, or agro-ministry promoters.

After returning from the missions in the late 1990s to attend to her family's needs, Sister "Maria" has been involved in Hispanic outreach and translating with Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Green Bay as well as social justice ministry.

Stay in touch -- This story originally appeared in the Sisters' newsletter. Subscribe to our FREE printed newsletter (issued five times a year) and our FREE e-spiritual reflections (weekly). We enjoy hearing from you so visit our “Send a Greeting to Sister” page and say hello. Thank you and God bless!