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Dubuque Presentation Sisters Celebrate 60 and 80 Years of Gratitude
Four Dubuque Presentation Sisters are observing 60 years of religious life this year. “Graced with God’s Abundance” is the jubilee theme for the sisters. They will be celebrating with the Presentation community at Mount Loretto. Sisters Janet Goetz, St. James Lickteig, Carla Popes and Rosalyn Ulfers entered the Sisters of the Presentation in 1960 and professed final vows in 1968. Also celebrating will be Sister Linus Coyle who observes 80 years of religious life.
Sister Janet Goetz
A native of Wesley, Iowa, Sister Janet Goetz is the daughter of the late Philip Goetz and Lorrine Garman Goetz. She presently is the board secretary to the Bishop Garrigan Schools (both Garrigan and Seton) which have been an educational and inspiring experience. Sister Janet also volunteers at St. Cecelia Parish, trusting in the Lord’s love and promise to be with His people.
In 1960, Sister Janet entered the Sisters of the Presentation of Dubuque. Following initial formation at Mount Loretto and graduation from then Clarke College, she began a 55-year education career in several Catholic schools in Dubuque, Farley and Sheldon, all in Iowa; as well as in St. Paul, Minnesota.
She always wanted to be a teacher and was delighted to see the creativity, generosity and enthusiasm about life from her students and fellow educators. She is grateful for her life as a religious woman. “I thank the church and Catholic community for recognizing and valuing the contribution of Catholic sisters in our country’s history of education and health care,” reflects Sister Janet.
By reflecting on her past, present and future as a Presentation Sister, Sister Janet appreciates what the gift of time has been. “I look back and appreciate my family and community. Today, I witness the faithfulness of the young and old in religious life, and I am proud to stand beside them in service. I look to the tomorrows and trust in the Lord’s love and promise to be with us.”
With a healthy and enriching balanced life, Sister Janet rejoices and gives thanks to the Lord for His generosity in these 60 years as a Presentation Sister. Striving to model Nano Nagle, she simply states, “I aim to wear a smile always, to be friendly and positive and to be available to help and offer encouragement.”
If Nano were alive today, she would tell us to pray for one another. We wait for peace, for a time of healing. She would advise us to listen to the scientists and medical personnel and follow their counsel.
St. James Lickteig
Originally from Wesley, Iowa, Sister St. James is the daughter of the late Urban and Agnes (Muehe) Lickteig. She is now committed to community prayer and service at Mount Loretto Motherhouse in Dubuque, Iowa, hoping to bring “spirit and joy to individuals in some small way.”
Sister St. James has no regrets about the choice she made in 1960 to enter the Presentation community. “I can say that I never wavered from my choice in life and I never looked back. It seemed to fit,” shares Sister St. James. She describes herself as a homebody who delights in the peaceful atmosphere of her convent home and in the companions she shares there.
Her ministry took her in many directions. For 45 years, she taught elementary education in Catholic schools in Algona, Dubuque, Farley, and Key West, all in Iowa; in Timberlake, South Dakota; and in Shoreview, Minnesota. She then volunteered with AmeriCorps: Partners in Learning Program, in Dubuque. These multiple directions and assignments, oftentimes challenging, did, nonetheless, echo the spirit, mind and heart of Nano Nagle.
The opportunity to discover new places was enjoyable for St. James. Today, she spends much of her time in front of her computer screen, surrounded by related technology that makes it all work together. A researcher at heart, she loves delving into records and accounts of the past for the Presentation community and family. From the time before she entered the Presentation Sisters until now, Sister St. James has found inspiration in the courage and dedication of Presentation foremothers.
In celebration for her jubilee, Sister St. James says, “I wish to thank God, family and community for all the gifts that have been received by me and evolved for me during my life. There have been many transitions that have brought me to this day and I am most grateful.”
As we are in the midst of challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic and addressing systemic racism, tell me about some of the challenges that you have lived through in your lifetime? What did you do when faced with these challenges?
There is the challenge of reviewing priorities in daily living. There has now come a time when I can not go where and when I am accustomed to. At this writing I have been in place for over 130 days. I have established a new pace of living. Routine is good for me, so I try to keep schedule and goals. The reward is a feeling of good health when so many around me are suffering life and death experiences. I give thanks for the ability to discipline myself to be appreciative.
How did your faith help you during those troubled times?Without a doubt faith, hope and love combine to give me strength to accept what is happening to our world. We do not know the path the future will call us to travel. My wonderful past gives me faith in the future.
What advice would you give us about facing the challenges in our world today?
We walk one hour, day, and week … at a time. Live in the present while moving into the always unknown future. Look beyond one’s self to reach out to help others who need courage to take one step beyond.
What do you think Nano would do or say about facing racism and the idea of a worldwide pandemic if she were alive today?
Nano would do what she could to elevate the pain for others. After all, isn’t that what she did and calls her followers to do?
Sister Carla Popes
Presently of Decorah, Iowa, Sister Carla ministers the Guatemalan families from the area who are in most need. She expects that her “life, witness and dedicated service, has given others reason to hope, hope for today and forever.”
Sister Carla served as an elementary teacher and director of religious education in Catholic schools in Algona, Cedar Falls, Charles City, Epworth, Farley and Monona, all in Iowa. Shen then served as director of lay formation and associate director of catechetical services for the Archdiocese of Dubuque. This followed after by serving as the vocation director for her community, and then as a pastoral associate within the Emmaus Pastorate.
“In these past 60 years, I have been abundantly blessed by each and every person, my family, religious community, friends and all with whom I have journeyed as we together served our brothers and sisters,” says Sister Carla.
Both in the words of scripture, her religious community, family and friends, Sister Carla continues discovering the gift of a simple faith by recalling the words of Presentation foundress, Nano Nagle, “the Almighty makes use of the weakest means to bring about His works.” Sister Carla says, “I know the blessings of God in these past 60 years and my heart is filled with deep gratitude to God and all who have been part of my life. Anything that has been accomplished has been the work of God.”
“Yes, jubilee time is sacred. It is a holy season for reflecting on God’s faithfulness and generosity over the past 60 years,” comments Sister Carla. “It is the spirit and fire of my Presentation foundress Nano Nagle that continues to inspire and challenge me to be a woman of the Gospel in the winding lanes of today. I have delighted in all who have been a part of the fabric of my life and I say, “Yes, ‘For all that has been – Thanks! To all that shall be – Yes!’ Dag Hammarskjöld.”
As I look back over my life, I am deeply truly humbled and grateful! Every challenge has provided me the opportunity to step back, look and listen. I read and reflect on the Scriptures daily, work with Hispanic families, tend the garden and enjoy a beautiful walk in nature. All of these activities have helped me cope during these most troubled times.
Yet, the Spirit continues to call each of us forth. The God who created me has put within me the heartbeat of the Spirit, moving me, nudging me beyond what I would have ever dreamed possible, yes, even in the most challenging times.
Originally from Algona, Iowa, Sister Rosalyn is the daughter of the late Charles and Magdalen Ulfers. She is presently dedicated to community prayer and service at Mount Loretto Motherhouse in Dubuque, Iowa. In her retirement, Sister Rosalyn companions other Sisters to their appointments, goes for walks and picks up scraps, assists with prayer and service throughout the house, and enjoys extra time to read.
Entering religious life was not really her dream, but as God kept calling, she knew that she needed to respond. As she looks back 60 years later, Sister Rosalyn states “No other life could have been so fulfilling for me. God has truly provided me with more than I could have ever asked for or imagined.”
Sister Rosalyn began her ministry as a primary teacher, which she continued for 26 years in Catholic schools in Epworth, Humboldt, Osage, and Sheldon, all in Iowa; and Oak Lawn, Illinois. People often comment on how distinctly Sister Rosalyn reads and she always comments “The primary children taught me to read.” Sister Rosalyn wanted students to read distinctly, so she continued to do the same today.
Following that, Sister Rosalyn served in pastoral care ministry for 23 years. She ministered in the pastoral care department at Mercy Medical Center in Dubuque, Iowa, for 17 years, with the first five years including shared services at Holy Family Hall, with the Franciscan Sisters. Her last six years of ministry were at Clare House at the Mount St. Francis Center.
“My 23 years in pastoral care ministry were filled with so many inspiring people, as they struggled with health issues or impending death. I witnessed people clinging to faith, family, and friends for support, as they slowly and gently healed or let go and entered Eternal Life,” Sister Rosalyn states.” My last years in ministry with the Franciscan Sisters were filled with inspiration, as I witnessed the sisters growing in age, grace, and wisdom, appearing to be weak and fragile, yet they were so strong in their faith and trust.”
Sister Rosalyn is amazed at how quickly 60 years have passed. She says, “I praise and thank God for calling me and I thank my family, Presentation community, and friends for their prayers and support. My daily mantra is, to God be the glory.”
Sister Linus Coyle
A native of Cross Plains, Wisconsin, Sister Linus is the daughter of the late John and Sarah Coyle. She presently lives in retirement, offering community prayer and service at Mount Loretto in Dubuque, Iowa, where she spends time with the sisters enjoying the beautiful motherhouse grounds.
Sister Linus is an example of a lifelong learner. In her early formation and for the first 25 years of religious life with the Sisters of St. Francis of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she worked with African-American, Native Americans, Chinese and Hispanic communities. She readily loved and respected those of other ethnicities and learned to better understand their cultures.
She then served as a teacher, principal, and computer lab coordinator in Catholic schools in Chicago, Illinois; Keyesville, Lancaster, and Milwaukee, all in Wisconsin; Yazoo City, Mississippi; Moravia, Costa Rica; Charles City, Dubuque, Epworth, and Mason City, all in Iowa; and St. Paul, Minnesota. She also served in many summer catechetical programs throughout her teaching career.
When Sister Linus came to Mount Loretto in 2001, she volunteered to work with the sisters in the computer lab and thus stayed active after retirement. “All of the sisters were eager to learn and thankful for the help,” comments Sister Linus. “I was doing something I really enjoyed and learned something new in the process.”
After spending many years teaching and in service to others, Sister Linus continues this same spirit in her jubilee. “Gratitude, praise, and humility echo and resound in my heart as memories flip the pages of a life lived in dedication to God for over 80 years,” states Sister Linus. “I thank God for all the blessings of family, friends, and my community sisters, whose lives have continually portrayed Christ’s love and presence in our world. I entrust all to the hearts of Jesus and Mary.”