For The Catholic Messenger
CLINTON — The Sisters of St. Francis in Clinton are celebrating the jubilees of eight sisters and one associate. A public Mass and celebration have been postponed due to the ongoing pandemic.
Sister Beatrice (Mary Therese) Griffin was born in Bird Island, Minnesota. She joined the Clinton Franciscans in 1946 and made her first vows in 1949. She earned a BA in education, with minors
in history and biology, from San Diego College for Women in San Diego. She earned an MA in education with a minor in special education from Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee, and an MA in religious studies from Seattle University in Seattle. She served as an educator and principal in California and Illinois. When Sister Griffin returned to Clinton 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 in Clinton and shopping for them. She resides at The Canticle in Clinton.
Sister Donna (Donald Marie) Burke, a Winner, South Dakota, native who later moved to DeWitt, joined the Clinton Franciscans in 1951 and made her first profession in 1954. She earned an associate degree from Mount St. Clare College in Clinton, a BA in education from St. Ambrose College in Davenport, an MA in elementary principalship in education from the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, and an MA in pastoral studies from Loyola University in Chicago. She also holds a certificate in cultural and creation spirituality from Holy Names College in Oakland, California. She served as a teacher and principal in Iowa at St. Ann School in Vail, St. Columbkille School in Varina and St. Patrick School and Seton School in Clinton. Her ministry also took her to Illinois, Missouri and Kentucky. She was appointed director of vocation/formation at Mount St. Clare Convent in 1989, and also directed the associate partnership program. Sister Burke relocated to Jesup, Iowa, in 1996 and served as pastoral associate at St. Athanasius Parish for 20 years. She resides at The Canticle and 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 (Maria Goretti) Zeimen, a Mapleton, Iowa, native, joined the Clinton Franciscans in 1951, making her first profession in 1954. She earned a BA in general science from the University
of Iowa in Iowa City and a doctorate in animal biology from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Her work in education included teaching in Iowa at Our Lady of Counsel in Fonda and Mount St. Clare College and Academy in Clinton. She also taught in Illinois. Sister Zeimen later served as pastoral minister at two parishes in Illinois. She served as vice president of the Clinton Franciscans 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 their mission. In 1993, she was elected vice president of the Franciscan Federation of the United States and later served as president. She later became involved in L’Arche, helping found L’Arche Chicago and working with communities in Alabama, California, Florida, Clinton, Massachusetts, Missouri and Washington. She served as the assistant regional coordinator of Central L’Arche USA from 2006 to 2011. Currently residing in Chicago, Sister Zeimen volunteers with VoteForward, Interfaith Community for Detained Immigrants, and Garden Center Services. She helps with assistant and staff formation for L’Arche communities.
Clinton native Sister Carmel (Mary Carmel) Jacobs joined the Clinton Franciscans in 1961, and pronounced perpetual vows in 1967. She earned an associate degree from Mount St. Clare College, a
BA in elementary education from Marycrest College in Davenport, an MA in religious studies from Mundelein College in Chicago, and an MA in pastoral studies from Loyola University in Chicago. In Iowa, she taught at St. Patrick School and Sacred Heart School in Clinton; she also taught in Illinois. She studied 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 in Phoenix. Before her retirement in 2019, she spent 20 years assisting marginalized persons at St. Vincent de Paul Society in Phoenix. She resides at The Canticle and continues to support the mission of active nonviolence and peacemaking through study, discussions, emails and letters. She is studying the history of racism.
Sister LaVern (Mary Lavern) Olberding, a native of Fort Dodge, Iowa, joined the Clinton Franciscans in 1961 and pronounced perpetual vows in 1967. She earned an associate degree from Mount St. Clare College, a BA in chemistry from Marycrest College, and a master’s degree in religious education from Seattle University. She served as a teacher,
religious education director and campus minister in Iowa at Danbury Catholic High School in Danbury and Mount St. Clare Academy and College in Clinton. Her ministry also took her to Kentucky, California and Nebraska. Sister Olberding ministered as the pastoral care coordinator for Dismas Charities in Louisville, working with felons at numerous halfway houses. She also 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 and co-founded the Franciscan Peace Connection in La Mesa, which offers opportunities for workshops, study groups and training in active nonviolence, peacemaking, and life skills. She serves as its director, networks with numerous interfaith groups and provides outreach to persons living on the margins. She also serves as president of the board of directors of the Peace Resource Center of San Diego.
Sister Barbara (Mary Barbara) Rosener, a Breda, Iowa, native, joined the Clinton Franciscans in 1961 and pronounced perpetual vows in 1967. She earned a bachelor’s degree in
education from Marycrest College and an MA in religious education from Seattle University. As a teacher, she served in Iowa at Holy Cross School in Vail and St. Edmond School in Fort Dodge. She also served in California, Illinois and Kentucky. After retiring from teaching in 2006, she cared for sick and elderly persons for 13 years. She resides in Fort Dodge where she enjoys volunteering.
Sister Janice Cebula, a Goodland, Kansas, native, joined the Clinton Franciscans in 1971 and professed perpetual vows in 1983. Prior to joining the Clinton Franciscans, she earned
a BA in secondary education with a major in natural science from the University of Kansas. She served as a teacher in Missouri and at Sacred Heart School in Clinton before shifting her focus to social justice advocacy and law. She ministered with the Missouri Catholic Conference in Jefferson City, Missouri, and later earned a Juris Doctor degree from Saint Louis University, hoping to advocate for persons marginalized by poverty and unjust systems. For the next 23 years, she served as an attorney for Legal Aid of Western Missouri in Kansas City and volunteered at Holy Family House, a Catholic Worker house, in Kansas City.
She has served several terms as president of the Clinton Franciscans, a position she currently holds. Between terms, Sister Cebula worked as the U.S. Liaison for Global Sisters Report in Kansas City, Missouri. She is a board member for A Nun’s Life ministry and continues to advocate for social justice. She resides at The Canticle.
Sister Patricia Weldon, a Chicago native, joined the Clinton Franciscans in 1971 and made her first profession in 1974. She earned a BA in elementary education
from Marycrest College and an MA in administration from the University of Notre Dame. She served as a teacher and principal in Iowa at St. Rose of Lima in Denison and St. Patrick School in Perry. She also served in Illinois and California. Outside of education, she ministered as the Senior Services coordinator at Catholic Charities in San Diego where she managed social service needs of residents in diocesan housing units. In 2003, Sister Weldon accepted the position of director of religious education at a California parish and later served as pastoral director of a center at the parish. Sister Weldon served her congregation as a council member from 2000-2004. She serves as the associate partnership coordinator for Clinton Franciscan associates living in the western region. She resides in Spring Valley, California, and voluntarily ministers with the San Diego Catholic Worker.
Associate, 25 years
Associate Robert Ketelsen of DeKalb, Illinois, became acquainted with the congregation in 1939 when he attended St. Patrick School in Clinton and had the sisters as teachers. “I
have felt called to the community since kindergarten,” he said. He became an associate in 1996. As the owner of a travel agency outside of Chicago, Ketelsen was instrumental in arranging pilgrimages to Italy and Peru on behalf of the Sisters. After retirement, he served for 18 years at St. Mary’s Mission on the Navajo Reservation in Tohatchi, New Mexico, operated by Franciscans from Our Lady of Guadalupe Province, Albuquerque. He helped open, and later manage, the Mission’s halfway house for men struggling with substance abuse.