A Treasured Friendship Lasting Over a Century

Pictured above: Left to right, Visitation Sisters Bernadine Curoe, Joanne Sullivan, Paula Maloy and Patricia Clark outside their home at 2950 Kaufmann Road.

Heart to heart
daughters of Nano
welcome each other
and beckoned
by lantern hospitality
tend the fire
in word and deed
for mission, community
and Earth.
Corine Murray, PBVM

The words from the poem entitled “Visitations” by Sister Corine Murray sum up the Dubuque Presentation Sisters’ affection for Visitation Sisters Paula Maloy, Patricia Clark, Joanne Sullivan and Bernadine Curoe as they welcomed them to Mount Loretto on September 1, 2021. For the last time, Sisters Paula, Patricia and Joanne packed up their belongings and left their home that was nestled on a lot at the back of the Sisters of the Presentation property. Due to health reasons, Sister Bernadine arrived earlier to Mount Loretto. Going forward both the Presentation and Visitation Sisters will call 2360 Carter Road home.

The friendship shared between both congregations began long ago. In 1874, at the invitation of Bishop Hennessy, four Presentation Sisters arrived in Dubuque, Iowa, only to find the home promised to them was not ready. With open arms the Visitation Sisters invited the Presentation Sisters to stay with them in their home on West Third Street, not far from the present rectory of St. Raphael Cathedral, until their home was prepared and complete. What seemingly appeared a misfortune turned into the beginnings of a long and lasting friendship.

“For almost 150 years, Visitation and Presentation Sisters have been part of the heartbeat of the church and civic communities of Dubuque,” states Sister Lynn Fangman. “Our early encounter with the Visitation Sisters wasn’t a coincidence. We were deeply blessed when they opened their doors to us in 1874, and now we are gifted and privileged to open our doors in welcome to these four wonderful women as we continue our journeys together in prayer, community, service and friendship.”

Nearly 120 years later, the Presentation Sisters were delighted to have the Visitation Sisters settle on a lot at the back of their property. By November of 1995, the Visitation Sisters moved into their new home at 2950 Kaufmann Road.

The charism of the Sisters of the Visitation is expressed primarily through the practice of two virtues – humility and gentleness. Both of these virtues have been and continue to be expressed by these remarkable women.

Sister Patricia Clark, more affectionately referred to as Trish, attended both Visitation Grade School and High School. With a major in music from Clarke University (formerly Clarke College), Sister Trish set out as an elementary school teacher and later as principal. She worked in parish ministry at Nativity Church in Dubuque and student housing at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. Sister Trish utilized her degree in music as she directed the women’s choir at Notre Dame. She currently serves as president of her community.

Sister Bernadine Curoe, born on a farm between Cascade and Fillmore, Iowa, attended Visitation High School and Clarke University. After one year of college, she joined the Visitation community. Sister Bernadine was always immersed in the lives of her students. For over 25 years, she worked as head of the counseling department at Loras College in Dubuque where students affectionately called her “Sister B.” The words of one Loras student best describe Sister Bernadine, “From the first moment I met this incredible lady, she has inspired me to believe in myself, dream big and always be there for others. Sister B sees in us what we have trouble seeing in ourselves. What a wonderful gift we, too, can share with those around us.”

Sister Joanne Sullivan joined the Visitation Sisters after graduating from Visitation High School and Clarke University, later receiving her master’s degree from Catholic University of America. She taught at Nativity Grade School in Dubuque, Iowa, and Beckman High School in Dyersville, Iowa. Sister Joanne’s love of art was expressed in her work for the Dubuque Franciscan Sisters’ gift shop and her participation in a local art group. She worked in the finance office at Resurrection Parish and also served on the leadership council for her Visitation community. Since the writing of this article, Sister Joanne has passed away. Her presence and great sense of humor are greatly missed.

Born in Bernard, Iowa, Sister Paula Maloy attended a one-room schoolhouse for eight years before enrolling at Visitation High School. She attended Clarke University for one semester before she joined the Sisters of the Visitation community. Sister Paula has served as elementary teacher, principal and in leadership for her Visitation community. She was head of catechetical services for the Archdiocese of Dubuque from 1973-1995.

The words of a prayer given to the Visitation Sisters in 1610 by their founder St. Francis de Sales give credence to the faith each sister displayed during this time of uncertainty. “Do not look forward to what might happen tomorrow, the same everlasting Father, who cares for you today, will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.”

We thank God for the presence of these beautiful women, for their witness of letting go and for the wonderful opportunity to share our lives together in a new way. It is with great joy and hope we greet our new companions!