Franciscan Sisters of Dillingen elect new council

by Franciscan Sisters of Dillingen


Members of the Chapter – (l-r, f-b): Sisters Jean Louise Schafer, Roswitha Heinrich, Donna Welder, Ann Marie Friederichs, Paulit Kannampuzha, Sara Marie Belisle, Mary Louise Jundt, Hildegard Keller, Mary Ruth Huhn, Rebecca Metzger, Leonida Schmidt, JoAnn Marie Nogowski, Elaine Marie Roggenbuck, Susan Marie Loeffen, Christina Marie Neumann and Edwardine Gerou. (submitted photo)

On April 9, the Franciscan Sisters of Dillingen in Hankinson, elected Sister Donna M. Welder, OSF, to be their next Provincial Superior. With the words, “Trusting in God and the prayers of the Sisters,” she accepted the election. She will serve a six-year term that begins June 1, 2018.

Two councilors were also elected. Sister Sara Marie Belisle will also serve as Vicar Provincial. Sister M. Jean Louise Schafer will serve as councilor. Councilors serve the same six-year term as the provincial.

Here from Germany to preside at the election was Sister Roswitha Heinrich, General Superior. Assisting her was the General Councilor for the English Speaking provinces, Sister Paulit Kannampuzha. Sister Roswitha and Sister Paulit currently serve at the congregation’s headquarters in Dillingen, Germany. The Franciscan Sisters of Dillingen at Hankinson are the North American arm of their international congregation, which has Sisters serving in five countries: Germany, the United States, Brazil, India, and Spain.

Sister Donna served two previous terms as Provincial, 2000-2012. Prior to 2000, she taught for 24 years at Little Flower School in Rugby. Her last 12 years there she was also principal, librarian, and parish choir director. She also taught at Holy Family School in Grand Forks 1973-76. Since June 2012, she has been on the provincial council and serving as Local Superior of St. Francis Convent in Hankinson. She also serves on two Catholic health care board, St. Gerard’s Community of Care in Hankinson, and CHI Lisbon Health at Lisbon. She is the youngest of five children in her family and grew up in Napoleon.

Sister Sara Marie has been the business manager of the province since 1993. She has served as secretary of the board of St. Gerard’s Community of Care in Hankinson since 2004. In 2006, she was elected to the council and appointed treasurer of the province. She is the youngest of five children in her family and grew up in Phoenix, Ariz.

Sister Jean Louise has taught and been librarian at three schools in the Diocese of Fargo. She has served at Little Flower, Rugby, since 2000. She was librarian at St. John’s School in Wahpeton from 1982-95, and at St. Joseph’s School in Devils Lake from 2003-10. Since 1988, she has also served as the Vocation Directress for the Franciscan Sisters which has included being active in World Youth Days, SEARCH, and other youth retreats and conferences in the Diocese of Fargo and the Diocese of Bismarck. She is the second eldest of nine children in her family who grew up on a farm near Flasher, N.D.

Ending her third six-year term of office as Provincial Superior in May is Sister Ann Marie Friederichs. She was elected provincial in 1988, 1994 and 2012. Twice she was elected to serve the entire congregation as General Superior; in 1999 and in 2005. With a Masters in Social Work and many years of experience, she was able to help the Sisters navigate many situations in all seven provinces. As superior, she has been involved on various religious and medical boards including the Franciscan Federation, Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Catholic Health Initiatives and the Diocesan Pastoral Council of the Diocese of Fargo.

Sister Susan Marie Loeffen, the current Provincial Vicar, and Sister Rebecca Metzger, one of our Councilors, will also be leaving office at the end of May.

Sister Susan Marie has been the administrator of St. Francis Convent since June 2000, a position in which she has been responsible for employees and the St. Francis Retreat Center. From 1993 to 1998, she was assistant administrator under Sister Mary Jane Reiber, then administrator at Oakes Community Hospital in Oakes. Heading the efforts in our mission shop since Sister Bernardine Bickler’s death in 2004, she has generated much needed funding for the congregation’s missions in Brazil and India where Dillingen Franciscans serve the Church among the poorest of the poor. She, too, has served on the boards of Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) in North Dakota.

Sister Rebecca has also been in administrative positions for many years. After achieving a degree in occupational therapy, her skills for administration revealed themselves very early in her religious life. Since 1974, she has served as administrator at St. Anne’s Guest Home in Grand Forks (1974-1987; 1992-present) and Towner County Memorial Hospital, (1987-1992). She has served as a provincial councilor since 2000. Currently, she serves on the boards of CHI Lakewood Health Center in Baudette and Service Providers for Seniors in Grand Forks. She also served previous terms on the boards of Towner County Memorial Hospital, Lakewood Medical Center, and Oakes Community Hospital.