FOND DU LAC, Wis. — Six Sisters of St. Agnes who have served in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend celebrate jubilees this year.
Sister Collean Walsh was born in Yonkers, New York. She graduated in 1943 from Sacred Heart High School in Yonkers and went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in education from Marian College, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and a master’s degree in administration/education from Marquette University, Milwaukee. She also attended several other colleges and universities. From 1990-92, she served as principal of Most Precious Blood School in Fort Wayne.
During her 75 years I ministry, Sister Collean found the words of Blessed Solanus Casey to be a guide to living the best she can: “Life is to live, and life is to give, talents are to be used for good, if you choose. Every day you will wonder at yourself for the richness of your life that has come to you through the grace of God.”
“God has and is walking with me each day,” she said.
Sister Colleen Braun was born in Kohler, Wisconsin. She graduated from Marian College; Fond du Lac, in 1971 and received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from St. Francis College; Fort Wayne, in 1980. In 1989 she received master’s degrees in learning disabilities and pastoral studies from Loyola University, Chicago. Sister Colleen taught at St. Joseph School, Decatur, from 1977-83. Since 2011 she has served as the director of faith formation at St. Benedict Parish, Phoenix, Arizona.
She considers the time she spent working in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults process a tremendous gift in her ministry and encourages others to make sure they are working with their eyes on Christ in all they do, especially when things get difficult. Among her many blessings she counts the gift of a family that brought her up in the Catholic faith, her education and a community that supports ministries, and numerous friends. She aspires to continue to minister with an open heart to everyone, with hospitality and a zeal to spread the Gospel through love.
Sister Donna Myjak was born in Manistique, Michigan. In 1969 she graduated from Marian College, Fond du Lac, with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. In 1983 she earned a master’s degree in science from St. Francis University, Fort Wayne.
In 1989 Sister Donna won a principal award for outstanding teacher. She also holds catechetical certifications from three dioceses: from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a teachers’ certification; from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, advance certification and professional certification; and from the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin, advance certification in religious education. She also has nursing credentials from the home care assistant training program of Bay de Noc Community College, Escanaba, Michigan; and from the Michigan Assisted Living, Kingsford, Michigan, LPN Program.
From 1977-82 she taught first grade religious education at St. Joseph School, Decatur. When she was young, she had started fourth grade wanting to be a good teacher and was an astute observer of methodology and classroom management. She continued to be a witness of hope, offering prayers and sacrifices to beg God to have mercy on the world, to forgive offenses, and give peace and harmony to all.
Sister Loraine Pfannenstiel was born in Munjor, Kansas. She graduated from Marian College, Fond du Lac, with a bachelor’s degree and from Creighton University with a master’s degree in education. She served from 1984-87 as the principal of St. John the Baptist School, New Haven. She is enjoying retirement in Wisconsin.
Sister Loraine said she always remembers that in the Gospel of Mark it promises, “Everything is possible to one who has faith.” “It is with the help of God that we can accomplish what we set out to do,” she said.
She considers herself blessed to have had parents who had great faith. “In my journey through life I always realized that I was not alone. No matter what challenges I faced, God was always there.”
Sister Mary Ellen Johnston was born in Ballymote, Sligo, Ireland, and graduated with a certificate from Carrowmore National in 1938. She obtained a diploma from Secretarial Business College; Chicago, Illinois, in 1940; a diploma from St. Agnes High School, Fond du Lac, in 1949; and a bachelor’s degree in education from Marian College, Fond du Lac in 1964. From 1981-84 she served as the secretary at St. Joseph School, Fort Wayne.
She truly treasures being a religious sister, Sister Mary Ellen said, and is inspired by the way the Sisters of St. Agnes teach the other sisters how to walk in God’s presence.
Sister Nancy Butz is a native of St. Cloud, Wisconsin. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin/Oshkosh, from which she earned a bachelor’s degree in education and mathematics; she also graduated from DePaul University; Chicago, with a master’s degree in human services and licensure as a clinical professional counselor, as well as a holistic health practitioner certification through the TIBIA School of Massage/Bodywork/Healing Therapies in Madison, Wisconsin.
Among her ministries, Sister Nancy taught computer skills to students in grades K-8 at St. Joseph School, Fort Wayne, from 1981-84. From 2012 through the present, she works with Renew Life Holistic Therapies, Kenosha, Wisconsin. She was recognized in 2021 with a Best of Kenosha award in the category of Alternative/Holistic Health.
Sister Nancy believes everyone is called to follow their heart, listen attentively to the Holy Spirit and respond with grace, gratitude, compassion and forgiveness. “I believe we are all responsible for building up all that is of God. That translates for me to caring for humanity and all of creation, sharing in the journey of encouraging the best in everyone, welcoming challenges as invitations for growth, honoring the earth and remembering that every moment is gift. This is our mission.”
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