LACROSSE, Wis. — Sister Anita (Mary Kenneth) Beskar, FSPA, died April 23 at Villa St. Joseph.
Anita Marie was born in River Falls (Big River), Wisconsin, on May 2, 1932, to Leo and Mildred (Maier) Beskar. She professed first vows as an FSPA on Aug. 12, 1952.
She received a BA in chemistry from Viterbo College and an MS in chemistry from Notre Dame. She began her ministry teaching in elementary schools in Edgar and Boyd, Wisconsin, and Spencer, Iowa, before moving into high school. She taught high school and was assistant principal in West Point and Lansing, Iowa. After the Lansing high school closed, she served as a religious education teacher in Lansing. She later served as a religious educator in Marion, Iowa, and then as a religious education coordinator, youth minister and vocation educator in Cedar Rapids.
The Diocese of Davenport recognized Sister Beskar’s work with young people and invited her to serve as diocesan director of the Office of Religious Education and Youth Ministry, a position she held from 1981-89. She then studied at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and took a three-month study tour in Israel.
The FSPA sponsored a chair in global education at Viterbo University in which Sister Beskar served for 10 years. Afterwards, she served as an FSPA representative on the inter-congregational coordinating team planning the 150th anniversary of the congregation’s founding. Part of the celebration resulted in a 20-year relationship with the Tertiary Sisters of St. Francis in Cameroon, Africa, known as the Franciscan Common Venture. From 2001-09, she traveled back and forth to Cameroon.
She also served at Marywood Franciscan Spirituality Center in Arbor Vitae, Wisconsin, ministering there until 2021, when she moved to St. Rose Convent and later to Villa St. Joseph in La Crosse.
Her funeral was held April 26 at Villa St. Joseph. Burial took place at Villa St. Joseph. Memorials may be sent to Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, 912 Market Street, La Crosse, WI 54601-4782.