Here’s something rare for the secular press: profiles of six religious sisters who died from complications of COVID-19, from The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
Our Lady of Angels Convent in Greenfield, a care home for Catholic sisters, lost six women to the coronavirus in less than a month.
Sister Annelda Holtkamp was raised in St. Paul, Iowa, and ministered for 77 years, serving as a homemaker at convents in Illinois, Nebraska and Wisconsin.
At Kenosha’s St. Joseph High School Convent, she became friends with Sister Virginia Handrup. Handrup wrote, prior to her death, that she was blessed to be Holtkamp’s friend because of her “faith, positive attitude and good cheer.”
Before retiring in 2005, she served at St. Mary’s Convent in Chilton for 13 years. At the Chilton County Fair, Holtkamp received two ribbon awards for her intricate embroidery and homemaking skills.
Holtkamp retired at 87 years old and lived to be 102. She died on April 19.
Sister Marie June Skender was born in West Allis. Her mother enjoyed music, and her father played the tambor in a Croatian band. Their shared interest in music was handed down to their daughter.
Skender’s first assignment was in Skokie, Ill., as an organist instructor from 1955 to 1961. Skender returned to her home state, working in Chilton as a teacher, principal and music coordinator.
Skender excelled in choral music interpretations. She carried on her Croatian music traditions as well.
From 1972 to 1982, Skender ministered in Niagara, in religious education and pastoral ministry. In 1987, she served as a director of pastoral care at Mary Hill Manor. She was described in her eulogy as compassionate and always available for her fellow sisters’ needs.
Skender died April 7 at the age of 83.
Sister Josephine Seier, born in Raesville, Nebraska, earned a degree in Gerontology.
But, Seier said, her best degree in life was her UCS degree — Using Common Sense.
“Through all my life I realized I have a sense of humor, love of nature, desire to be creative and a will to be helpful,” her eulogy read.
Seier was a member of the School Sisters of St. Francis for 79 years.
She ministered with the elderly in Nebraska, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Illinois and Wisconsin. She always shared boundless energy and enthusiasm, her eulogy read.
When life became stressful, she would gather her friends and eat large servings of fudge-covered vanilla ice cream together.
“How could the world not look better after such a decadent treat?,” Seier is remembered as saying.
She died May 1 at age 94.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them …