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Sister Aloysia Barthelme, ASC (1896-1984)

 Adorers of the Blood of Christ

Early Years

Sister Aloysia Barthelme (Loretta Adeline) was born to Joseph Barthelme and Mary Agnes (Flynn) Barthelme on November 14, 1896, in Joliet, Illinois. 

When Loretta was 9 years old, the family moved to Caldwell, Kansas, and six years later her father retired and moved the family to Wichita, Kansas. When Loretta was 15, she went to school at St. John’s Institute, and the next year she went to Ruma to enter the convent of the Adorers.

Making her vows as Sister Aloysia in 1914, she returned to Wichita, and spent the next 17 years teaching in area schools, pursuing her studies in summer sessions, and receiving her bachelor’s degree from Fort Hays College in 1930. 

Close Call

Sister Aloysia Barthelme had learned to drive in 1916, and for several years was the only driver for the Sisters in Wichita. She told of an incident when she was returning with several Sisters from doctor’s appointments and the car stalled on the railroad track just east of the convent.  Two of the Sisters ran down the track toward an approaching train, desperately waving their arms for the train to stop, while the other Sisters tried to push the car off the tracks. According to Aloysia, the train stopped just 2 feet from the car. The conductor got out and helped them push the car off the tracks before the train continued on its way.

From 1931 to 1937, Aloysia served as the local superior in the Provincial House community, and in 1938 she was appointed Provincial in Wichita, the second Sister to fill this post. 

Her years as provincial were marked by significant changes in the Sisters’ living arrangements. With the entrance of numerous postulants, the joint use of the Administration Building by the Sisters and the Academy and Sacred Heart College, now Newman University, was no longer tenable. 

Building Changes

One of Aloysia’s first decisions was to move the provincial offices and many of the Sisters’ living quarters into the Novitiate Building that had been built in 1914, and a passageway connecting the second floors of the two buildings was erected. 

The Sisters continued to use the chapel and the dining room in the Academy building, and in 1942, a new wing was added, to enlarge the chapel and to provide an infirmary for the older Sisters.

Expanding Ministries

Her administration was also marked by significant expansion of ministries. The Adorers took on more of the diocese’s Catholic schools, opened St. Mary’s Hospital in Enid, Oklahoma in 1937, and began staffing Municipal Hospital in Stillwater, Oklahoma in 1939. They also established St. Joseph’s Villa (for the aged) in Nebraska and provided domestic services for Bishop’s homes in Oklahoma City in 1939 and San Antonio, Texas, in 1942 and the Oklahoma Diocese Seminary in 1946. The Adorers also began the mission in Brazil in 1946.

In the years following her role as provincial, Aloysia served six years as local superior at St. Mary’s Hospital in Enid, seven years as local superior at the Provincial House, six years at the Paraclete Retreat House in Wichita, and eight years at St. Joseph’s Villa in Nebraska. 

In 1976, the 80-year-old Aloysia retired to the Provincial House, where she died on January 22, 1984.    

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