CLINTON — Nine Sisters of St. Francis representatives will celebrate anniversaries of their entrances into religious life this year.
Marking 85 years is Sister Bertha Zeiser; Sister Rose Griffin, 70 years; and Sister Celeste Hanigan, Sister Teresa Kunkel, Sister Ruth Cox, Sister Joan Theiss, 60 years; and Sister Jacqueline Herrmann, Sister Gael Gensler and Sister Mary Lou Carlson, 50 years.
A celebration of Mass will take place Saturday, July 26, at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Clinton. Bishop Martin Amos will preside.
Sister Bertha Zeiser
Sister Bertha Zeiser, who marked her 103 birthday this year, is celebrating 85 years as a Sister of St. Francis. Zeiser entered the congregation of the Sisters of St. Francis at Mount St. Clare Convent in Clinton on July 7, 1929, and received the name Mary Rupert at her reception, later resuming her baptismal name.
Zeiser spent most of her active ministry as a high school math and religion teacher, serving also as principal for 14 years. She taught at Mount St. Clare Academy for a total of 33 years. Previously, she had taught in parish schools in Chicago; Fonda and Victor, Iowa; and Lexington, Nebraska. She also served from 1962-1965 as director of the congregation’s temporary professed sisters.
“I was born in Browns, Iowa. It was little place, you couldn’t even call it a town (near Preston),” Zeiser said. “I went to grade school at St. Joseph parish school there and I attended Mount St. Clare boarding school in Clinton for four years of high school. I was well impressed by the life that I saw there of all the sisters and God called me to become a sister.”
After retiring from full-time classroom teaching in 1980, she assisted for five years with the Clinton Community College English as a Second Language program, working with adult Southeast Asian refugees. Her last mission was Reedley, California, where she served as receptionist at St. Anthony Parish from 1985-1995.