Fort Madison native Sister Phyllis Ann Price, SSND, formerly known as Sister Lester Marie, is celebrating 60 years as a professed School Sister of Notre Dame.
The only child of Marion Kersting and Leslie Price, she was baptized Nov. 7, 1939, at Sacred Heart Church in Fort Madison. She attended Sacred Heart School, taught by the School Sisters of Notre Dame. She attended Notre Dame High School in St. Louis to learn more about SSND life and entered the candidature in 1957.
She took vows as a School Sister of Notre Dame in 1959, professed as Sister Lester Marie. After Vatican II, she returned to her baptismal name. Sister Price served her first 16 years of ministry in the Diocese of Davenport, teaching grade school at St. Mary in Keokuk from 1961-67, St. Anthony in Knoxville from 1967-71 and St. John in Burlington from 1971-73. From 1973-78, Sister Price worked in the diocesan office of the Superintendent of Schools as an elementary school consultant.
She earned a master’s degree in elementary education and served as a Catholic educator in Missouri, including 16 years as director of Notre Dame Preschool in St. Louis. She ministered at St. Gertrude School in Krakow, Missouri, and Notre Dame High School in St. Louis. She also served with In-Home Family Child Care and was a pastoral associate at Mercy Hospital in St. Louis for 11 years.
Along with her full-time ministries, she volunteered in the NICU at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital for more than 20 years. She helped with Cambodian refugee children in Davenport and cared for babies and young children after Hurricane Andrew in Florida. She volunteers now as a Catholic elementary school tutor and as a driver for the County Older Residents Program.
“I am grateful for my formative years at Sacred Heart Church and School, to my parents who lovingly supported me in my call to religious life, and for the tremendous influence of the School Sisters of Notre Dame who motivated me to dedicate my life in service as a member of the SSND community,” she said.
“I enjoyed all my years as a formal educator, being true to the mission and charism of my religious community. Teaching young children and working with their parents has been my greatest joy. Working in the diocesan school office broadened my views of education and offered many opportunities to share with teachers and students. My world expanded as I helped with babies and very young children in challenging situations. Over all these years I have continued to keep in touch with some students and families in the diocese. I look forward to reading The Catholic Messenger every week and to coming home to Iowa when possible to reconnect with my roots.”