Seven Aberdeen Sisters Celebrate 60th Jubilee

Sisters Darlene Gutenkauf, Donna (Mary Blaine) Brown, Elaine (Kathleen) Garry,  Joyce (Marie Celine) Meyer, Kay (Mary Teresa) O’Neil, Mary Lou (Cajetan) Geraets and Pat Prunty are celebrating 60 years of vowed religious life as Aberdeen Presentation Sisters.

Sister Darlene (Camille) Gutenkauf was born in Faulkton, S.D. Raised in this rural area, she attended summer catechism taught by Sisters and witnessed the love and grace they had for all.

After graduating from Presentation College, Aberdeen, S.D., Sister Darlene received a bachelor’s in education from South Dakota State University, Brookings and a master’s in pastoral studies from Loyola University, Chicago, Ill. She completed post-graduate courses in theology and trained to become a spiritual director.

For 18 years she shared her love of learning in schools throughout South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. She was the vocation director and later spent many years in pastoral ministry. She worked collaboratively with pastoral teams in rural parishes in South Dakota and Minnesota. She helped develop, implement and facilitate intergenerational faith formation programs to foster parish leadership, preparing people for ministry in their parish. She later became the director of the Cojourner program for lay associates.

Retired in Aberdeen, she is a member of a local Parkinson’s support group, Convent Liturgy Committee, cantor at Mass and she strives to be a joyful witness, faithful in prayer and service.

Sister Donna (Mary Blaine) Brown was born and grew up in Sioux Falls, S.D., spending her early years in show business, dancing on stage at the age of three. Prior to entering Presentation Convent, she worked in the Sioux Falls area, gaining life experiences.

Sister Donna received an associate’s in general studies from Presentation College, Aberdeen, S.D.; a bachelor’s in recreation and leisure from Central Missouri University, Warrensburg, Mo.; and a master’s in pastoral studies from Loyola University, Chicago, Ill.. She also received training in theo-therapeutic massage at Sister Rosalind’s Professional School of Massage, St. Paul, Minn.

Always willing to help and celebrate each person’s individual gifts, she ministered at the Presentation Sisters’ Children’s Home, served as a workshop and retreat presenter, was the administrator and mission coordinator at (Avera) Mother Joseph Manor and went on to serve as development director at Presentation College. Her path then led her to theo-therapeutic massage and pastoral counseling.

Currently retired in Sioux Falls, Sister Donna’s love of life is evident and she continues to share her compassionate heart, joyful smile and loving spirit through music, singing and dancing.

Sister Elaine (Kathleen) Garry was born and raised in Salem, S.D. She received an associate’s in education from Presentation College, Aberdeen, S.D., and a bachelor’s in elementary education from Northern State College (University), Aberdeen, S.D. She went on to receive a master’s in theology from St. Mary’s College, Winona, Minn.; a master’s in elementary administration from Northern State College and a master’s in religious education from Loyola University, Chicago, Ill.. She also completed preparation for becoming a spiritual director and certification in human development.

From beginning her educational opportunities at Presentation College to teaching in elementary schools throughout the region and then completing/ending her teaching ministry at Presentation College, Sister Elaine’s love of education spanned almost five decades. Throughout this time, she inspired and motivated thousands of students, and is still in touch with some today.

With compassion and grace, her ministry led her to listen and walk with others through her gift of spiritual direction and she is currently the pastoral associate at St. Thomas More Catholic Parish in Brookings, S.D.

In her spare time, Sister Elaine takes piano lessons, and enjoys writing letters and sending birthday cards.

Sister Joyce (Marie Celine) Meyer was born in Morris, Minn. Raised in Willmar, Minn., she went on to receive a bachelor’s in English, philosophy and education from Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisc., and a master’s in spiritual theology from Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, Calif.. She also earned an advanced clinical pastoral education certificate.

She began her ministry as an educator in schools throughout South Dakota and Minnesota. She then served as the congregational formation director and novice director. She went on to work as a spiritual director in California before serving as lecturer, dean of students and spiritual director in Zambia, Africa.

Sister Joyce was elected to congregational leadership, serving four years as a councilor, followed by eight years as the congregational president.

Currently she serves on the International Ministry Board of the Religious of the Good Shepherd, the Conrad N Hilton Foundation board and is the international liaison/writer for Global Sisters Report. She feels very blessed in her ministry work, connecting with and enhancing the lives of women religious in 57 countries around our world.

A voracious reader of any subject, Sister Joyce also enjoys cooking, baking and yoga.

Sister Kay (Mary Teresa) O’Neil was born and raised in Clark, S.D. She received an associate’s in secretarial science, Presentation College, Aberdeen, S.D., and bachelor’s in business administration, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisc. She received a master’s in library science, Dominican University, River Forest, Ill.; a master’s in counseling psychology, Catholic University, Washington, D.C.; and a master’s of theological studies, Boston College of Theology and Ministry, Boston, Mass.

Throughout her vowed religious life, Sister Kay served as an educator, speaker, counselor, campus minister, retreat director and witness of the Gospel. She published numerous articles on women’s and other justice issues, including communication, self-esteem, peacemaking, women studies and spirituality.

She received the Diocesan Distinguished Service Award (Diocese of New Ulm, Minn.), Outstanding Faculty Award (St. Mary’s University, Minneapolis, Minn.), was a Bush Leadership Finalist and a founding member, and current chair, of the Presentation Sisters Social Justice Team.

Sister Kay continues to enlighten and enhance the lives of others through her work as a counselor and spiritual director. She remains dedicated to peace and nonviolent solutions, working with area Pax Christi groups to educate and inspire others on social justice issues.

Sister Mary Lou (Cajetan) Geraets grew up in rural Dell Rapids, S.D. She attended Northern State College (University), Aberdeen, S.D, receiving a bachelor’s in education. She shared her love of learning with elementary students in schools throughout South Dakota and Minnesota for almost 25 years.

After serving in the Student Services Center at Presentation College, Sister Mary Lou journeyed with others as she began her spiritual care ministry in long-term care facilities in South Dakota and North Dakota, sharing life with each unique person. After returning to Aberdeen, she also worked with the Foster Grandparent Program at CC Lee Elementary School.

Sister Mary Lou, a member of Green Aberdeen, continues to educate others on effective efforts of recycling and care of the earth. Growing in our relationship with Creator and Earth, our common home, she shares and works to help spread the word on how we can all do a little bit to make our world a better place for all.

Along with reading and playing piano, Sister Mary Lou is a cantor and song leader for liturgies, a companion with senior sisters and tender of recycling at Presentation Convent.

Sister Pat Prunty grew up in Andover, S.D.She attended and graduated from Northern State University with bachelor’s in elementary and secondary education, and taught for 15 years in Sioux Falls, Humboldt and Dell Rapids, S.D., as well as Miles City, Mont., before earning a master’s in religious studies from Seattle University, Seattle, Wash.

Serving in the ministries of chaplaincy, education and parish ministry, Sister Pat has experienced the rich and diverse cultures in our world. For 12 years, she ministered with those on our Lakota Reservations. She went on to complete a hospital chaplaincy internship at the Mayo Clinic and then spent 23 years in chaplaincy at Avera St Luke’s. She has been an observer at the United Nations, shared her compassion with others by ministeringin El Salvador and worked with the Red Cross in Texas after Hurricane Rita.

Retired at Presentation Convent, Sister Pat continues to serve on various committees and boards, works with the Presentation Sister’s Justice Commission and advocates for justice. She also enjoys cooking, reading a good book and listening to National Public Radio.