Diocesan News

Sisters Celebrate Jubilees

DENTON (SNR) - Five religious sisters serving the Diocese of Lincoln celebrated the jubilees of their religious profession at an annual banquet for all religious women in the diocese. The banquet was held May 2, hosted by Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz at St. Mary Church in Denton.

Sister Mary Henrita, 60 Years

“My mother prayed for my vocation,” said Sister Mary Henrita, seated comfortably behind the screen that separates her and the other Sister Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration (Pink Sisters) from the rest of the world.

Even though her parents, Henry and Mary, prayed for religious vocations among their six children and had one son in the priesthood, it was difficult to see their lively daughter entering a life of seclusion.

Sister Mary remembered saying, “It’s hard, Mother, but I just want to give it all up for the Lord.”

She joined the order in Philadelphia, fairly close to her hometown of Ogdensburg, N.Y. Soon, she was assigned to Argentina. She made her final vows there, in Spanish.

Sister Mary also served in Austin, Saint Louis, Lincoln and Corpus Christi. In 2003, she was able to travel to Rome for the canonization of the order’s founder, St. Arnold Janssen.

“Join a cloister and see the world,” she smiled.

Sister Mary was happy to return to this diocese last year, knowing she would be here for her 60th jubilee.

The years have taught her the importance of prayerful solitiude.

“Down deep in every heart, there is a yearning for that communication with God Himself,” she said.

Mother Teresa of Jesus, 55 Years

Now prioress of the Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in Valparaiso, Mother Teresa developed a great love for Our Lady of Carmel as she grew up in Santiago, Chile.

She attended Our Lady of Providence Parish with her parents, Octavio and Anna Mendez, and two older sisters. After graduating from Santiago High School, she enrolled at Marymount College in New York, intending to earn a degree in music.

Mother Teresa received an inkling of her vocation as a child, but in her words, “It faded away a little and then came back when I was in college… I felt very unworthy.”

She knew immediately that she belonged with Carmelites. She entered the convent in Sacramento. Some years later, she joined a number of other sisters in beginning a new monastery in Las Vegas.

“Then we decided that was not a very good place, and we came to the Diocese of Lincoln,” she said. “I’m very happy in Nebraska, very happy God brought us here.

In the quiet life of the cloister, Mother Teresa has had the time to listen and learn.

“The main thing is to trust in God for everything,” she said. “I could not do anything by myself.”

Sister Michaelene Prater, 50 Years

The second oldest child of Henry and Lucille Prater of Rulo, Sister Michaelene Prater thought she might be called to religious life when she was in grade school.
“I pretty much put it out of my mind,” she admitted.

However, during the midway point of her senior year at Sacred Heart High School in Falls City, she went on the senior class retreat.

Once again, she felt a pull to religious life. That spring, she went to visit St. Thomas Orphanage in Lincoln, which was run by the Marian Sisters. There, she confirmed her vocation.

“God had done so much for me, I wanted to do anything I could for Him,” she said.

After entering the Marian Sisters, Sister Michaelene worked at the orphanage for a short time, and then attended College of St. Mary in Omaha to earn her teaching degree. She taught at Pius X, Bishop Neumann and Aquinas high schools for about 25 years. For the last 20, she’s been the librarian for St. Mary School in David City.

“I’ve learned to trust God, and I’ve learned that whatever He lets happen is for the best,” she said. “I can see the good in it and grow from it.”

Sister Bernadette Radek, 50 Years

While attending Mass at St. Joseph Parish in Geneva with her parents, Eugene and Henrietta Radek, a certain 4-year-old was fascinated by the School Sisters of Notre Dame, whom her mother called, “God’s ladies.”

Sister Bernadette responded, “I want to be one.”

At 16, she was accepted by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in St. Louis. However, her pastor worried that the motherhouse was so far away, Sister Bernadette would be homesick and give up her vocation. He suggested the Marian Sisters, but she refused.

After graduating from Geneva High School, Sister Bernadette was on her way home after a successful job interview when an impromptu visit to St. Thomas Orphanage changed everything.

“I fell in love with the sisters,” she said.

Sister Bernadette initially worked at the orphanage as a cook. Then she earned a teaching degree at College of St. Mary. She taught at a half dozen different schools, including Villa Marie Home for Exceptional Children. She has also served as formations director and superior.

“I have learned how good God is and how merciful He is,” she said as she prepares for a new apostolate: Saint Gianna Womens Homes. “I’ve seen the goodness of God in every place I have been.”

Sister Veronica Volkmer, 50 Years

Also a Marian Sister, Sister Veronica Volker recalled, “I remember the night when it hit me what a great treasure our faith is… I recognized that Jesus understood every human need and had given us a loving Church that provided for those needs. It was then that I decided that I should do something with my faith.”

The oldest of Leo and Laurine Volkmer’s seven children, Sister Veronica graduated from St. Bernard Academy (now Lourdes Central) in Nebraska City and Brescia College in Kentucky. She taught public school for three years before entering the religious life.

Sister Veronica taught at several diocesan schools, taking time between assignments to earn a secondary education degree as well as a master’s in Christian Spirituality from Creighton University.

She served her community as formation director for 10 years and twice has been elected major superior. Currently, she serves as chair of the theology department for Pius X High School.

Sister Veronica said the most significant thing she has learned is the power of prayer, particularly the daily rosary.

“I have seen so many small miracles that have come through the power of prayer, including a big miracle of my own recovery from cancer,” she said.

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