Sister Claudine Axman was born with a curious mind. As a child, the youngest of 13 children, she always sought answers to her questions. As she began to consider entering the religious community of Adorers, she asked her mother to let her take piano lessons from one of the sisters, not from any aptitude in music, she confessed, but only so she could get to know more about the sisters and the life they led.
Since she grew up in a Czech family, she learned to speak the Czech language, but never learned to read or write it. When she was assigned to teach in a Czech parish, and had to teach religion in that language, she had to teach herself to read it, rather than tell her superior that she only knew how to speak Czech.
Sister Claudine Axman was born in 1908 in Olmitz, Kansas, and after attending high school at St. John’s Academy, she went to Ruma, Illinois in 1927 for her formation, receiving the name, Claudine. After her vows in 1929, she and her classmates from Kansas returned to the newly established province in Wichita. She began teaching that year, continuing her education in summers and through correspondence courses, and received a bachelor’s degree from Friends University, and a master’s degree from Wichita University.
Science and Anthropology
Sister Claudine Axman taught science at Sacred Heart Junior College from 1937 to 1944, and then spent the next three years at Catholic University to attain a Ph.D in biology. Her curious mind continued to challenge her there. She saw listed a course on human anthropology, and decided that this would be a good addition to her studies in biology. But as she was the only student signed up for the course, the professor tried to convince her that she really didn’t need to take the course. However, Claudine persisted in presenting all the reasons why it would be a great course for her to take. He ended up teaching her that course, and a second one, and Claudine actually attained a minor in anthropology. She also learned that she could audit other classes, so managed to find time to follow the career of Fulton Sheen in his popular classes.
During the 12 years following her studies at Catholic University, Sister Claudine Axman taught at Sacred Heart College, established the Science Division, and, as academic dean, assisted in the development of the academic program to move the college to a four-year institution. The first bachelor’s degrees were awarded in 1954. In the 1960s, she was instrumental in helping to plan and design the science building, which was completed in 1966.
After retiring from a long career of teaching, Claudine began a new career. She took a year-long course in pastoral care, and spent 20 years as a hospital chaplain in Wichita. In 1997, she retired to the Provincial House, where she died in 2000.