Sister returns Sisters’ kindness shown toward dear friend


CARING SISTERS: Annette Horvath, left, helps with receptionist duties at St. Francis Convent. She is grateful for the care her sister, Sister Jeanette Peplinski, right, and other Sisters provided to a friend who was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS. (Renae Bauer photo)

by Annette Horvath
published December 2016

For all of my life, I have been around Sisters. My oldest sister, Sister Jeanette Peplinski, joined the convent when I was just one year old. My second sister, Sister Clairann Peplinski, joined years later, after graduating from college and teaching high school for a few years. What a positive influence they have been …all my life! 

Having gone to a public grade school and high school, other than summer catechism classes, my first encounter with religious teachers was in college, at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wis. Studying a science-heavy medical technology major was no picnic, with the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration’s demanding excellence and your very best at every turn! But I ended up with a top-notch education and for that, I will always be grateful. 

However, out of all the blessings too numerous to mention that came my way from many sisters, the most meaningful by far remains the kindness, love, and support they gave to my friend Jarrell Tillman several years ago. She and I had been roommates for 25 years in Atlanta, and eventually decided to retire to Green Bay. Shortly after moving here, Jarrell was diagnosed with ALS. She was not Catholic at the time, but as the disease progressed and she became more paralyzed, she expressed a desire for spiritual guidance. At her request, we called on Sister Mary Jo Kirt. With her help, along with Father Tom Hagendorf, O. Praem., Jarrell was received into the Church. For many months before she died, Sisters Urban, Jeanette and Clairann brought Holy Communion to her every Sunday afternoon, prayed with her, held her hand and gave her great comfort and peace. 

Upon her death, the same Sisters were right there to help plan and arrange her funeral. And as a fitting close to a beautiful and courageous life, the Sisters attending her funeral Mass sang the “Blessing of St. Francis” to her. 

It is no wonder then, with words being so inadequate, as our expression of gratitude for all the aid, comfort, support and love that was showered on both of us, that her funeral memorials were directed to the retirement fund of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross. 

Thank you, Sisters. Once again. 

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Did you know?

Since 1985, the percentage of religious institutes with a median age of 70 or older has risen from 7 percent to 68 percent.

The average annual Social Security benefit for a male or female member of religious order is $6,312, while the average U.S. beneficiary receives $16,092.

In 2015, the average cost for the care of a religious was over $41,00 a person.

-- National Religious Retirement Office