Sister Leona Riebel, ASC died Friday, April 30, 2021, at Caritas Center in Wichita, Kansas, five days after the passing of her younger sibling, Sister Barbara Riebel, also an Adorer. Sister Leona was 103 years old and had been a professed Adorer of the Blood of Christ for 85 years. She was one of four Riebel siblings who became Adorers.
Leona was born on November 8, 1917 in Schoenchen, Kansas, the second of 12 children of Clement and Anna (Dinges) Riebel. The family later moved to Bazine.
Leona entered the Adorers at age 16 in 1933. She professed first vows on August 7, 1935 and final vows on August 10, 1940.
Sister Leona, like many Adorers at that time, began her teaching career with a high school diploma. By the time she graduated from Sacred Heart College, now Newman University, with a bachelor’s degree in education in 1954, she already had educated primary students in Aleppo, St. Marks, Ashland and Spearville, Kansas as well as in David City, Nebraska, and Carlsbad, New Mexico. In 1971, she completed a master’s degree in education from Kansas State Teachers College in Emporia. Leona also served in Canute, Okarche and Stillwater, Oklahoma, and at four parish schools in Wichita.
After 44 years in the classroom, Sister Leona changed directions. She assisted in the Conservation Office in the library at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., did database work for the Holy Ghost Fathers in Silver Springs, Maryland, and processed donations for the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Basilica in Washington.
A lifelong seamstress and knitter, Leona each year knitted hundreds of mittens and stocking caps for Operation Holiday, a program for the poor in Wichita. She donated earnings from her sewing projects to Center of Hope in Wichita, an Adorer-sponsored ministry for the homeless.
Leona loved traveling and getting together with family. Like her siblings, she was a competitive card player who excelled at Pitch. She would not stop playing cards each evening until she won at least one game.
Her body will be returned at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, to the Woman of the New Covenant Chapel at the Wichita Center. Wake services will be held that evening at 7 p.m. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. The Reverend Monsignor Rossi, rector at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Basilica and close friend from her days in Washington, D.C., will serve as presider and homilist. Rev. Tom Welk, chaplain for the Wichita Center, will concelebrate. She will be buried at the Wichita Center cemetery.
Preceding Leona in death were her parents, her sisters, Sister Winifred, ASC, Sister Barbara, ASC, and Arlene Drake; and her brothers, Norbert, Paul, John, Victor, and Leon. In addition to the Sister Adorers of the Blood of Christ, Leona is survived by her siblings, Sister Florentia, ASC, Wilbert, and Melvin, and many nieces and nephews as well as great and great-grand nieces and nephews.