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Sister Philomena Bahr, ASC

 Adorers of the Blood of Christ

“Now that I am old and gray,

O God, forsake me not.” 

Ps 71:18

February 29, 2024

Sister Philomena Bahr, ASC, entered into eternal life early Wednesday morning, February 28, in Caritas Center, in Wichita, Kansas.  She was 98 years old and a professed Adorer of the Blood of Christ for 78 years.

Sister Philomena was born January 7, 1926, in Olmitz, KS, and baptized Beatrice Magdalene at St. Ann’s Parish, a small rural community where Sr. Clementine Zerr had opened a mission in 1903.  A few years later, the birth of her sister Alice completed the family of two boys (Leonard and Bernard) and two girls. 

 In her autobiography Sr. Philomena wrote that her parents, Joseph, and Frances (Riedl) Bahr, “exhibited a deep basic faith, trust and love of God, neighbor and themselves.”  The Rosary and family night prayer were part of daily life, along with weekly Mass, unless a big rain or heavy snow made it impossible to get from their farm to the paved road.  

When her older brother married, Sr. Philomena took on more responsibility helping her father with farming chores, caring for the animals, mending fences, and working in the field.  Her mother, a skilled cook, taught Sr. Philomena how to bake.  This was a talent she used with enjoyment and confidence on missions where she lived as an Adorer.

Sister Philomena described how, in second grade, “…a tiny voice within me seemed to say, ‘You should be a sister’”.  The Adorers who taught her kept that aspiration alive through high school when she became more interested in dates, dances and fun.  Nearly every day she recited “A Prayer to Know my Vocation”. When the pastor asked if she was still thinking about being a sister, the desire was rekindled.  Her parents were surprised, but eventually supported her choice. 

She exchanged her flowered Jersey dress for the black and white postulant uniform on September 2, 1944.  In her autobiography she wrote about the challenge of college classes and following a horarium, but she, “loved learning about prayer and Jesus.” 

On reception day, July 1, 1945, she received the name “Philomena” and a year later pronounced first vows on July 1, 1946.  A month later, with a 30-hour Provisional Certificate and no practice teaching she began a 30-year ministry in elementary schools.  She served in Marienthal, Windthorst, Angelus, Eureka and Colwich, Kansas, and St. Anne’s in Wichita; Okarche, McAlester, Stillwater, Medford, and Bison Oklahoma; David City, Nebraska, and Hobbs, New Mexico.

By the time Sr. Philomena pronounced final vows on July 1, 1951, she had found delight in teaching vacation Bible school during summer breaks prior to resuming college classes.  She completed a BA in Education in 1957 from Marymount College and a MS Ed in 1970 from Oklahoma State University. 

Sister wrote, “There were many joys in my early years of religion.  I really felt privileged to be one of Christ’s chosen and much joy filled my being as I went about my everyday assignments.” Sr. Philomena identified participation in the charismatic movement in the 1970’s as very significant.  “The Holy Spirit took on a new meaning in my life.  It was like a whole new era opened in my life.  Many new and wonderful things happened to me, interiorly and outwardly, a hunger to read and meditate on the Word of God, a deeper love of God, living with Him in His mysteries, …a greater love and concern for people…”

In 1976 Sr. Philomena spent a year caring for her mother at home.  She described this as a time of learning gratitude, patience, and love.  That service may have prepared her for her next ministry, serving the elderly at Villa Maria in Mulvane, Kansas.  She trained first as a nurse aide, then took additional classes for certification for restorative aide.  Her final certification was for social services and activities.   

Completing 32 years of loving service to the aged and infirm, Sr. Philomena moved to the Wichita Center.  Initially she helped out in Caritas Center as a health care aide.  She served as an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist at St. Francis Hospital for four years, before she became a resident in Caritas Center herself.  There she welcomed the company of sisters and her extended family with whom she was in frequent contact.  

Prayer and gratitude have been constants in Sr. Philomena’s life.  As her health diminished and her energy waned, she chose hospice care.  When sisters and family visited, she asked that they pray for her and spoke of how good God had been to her throughout her life.  

Sister Philomena was preceded in death by her parents, Joseph and Frances, and her siblings Leonard, Bernard, and Alice.  She is survived by her cousins, Sisters Francella, Jeannine and Teresa Bahr, ASC as well as numerous nieces and nephews and their children.

A wake will be held on Thursday, March 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the Wichita Center.  The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at a later date.  Cremains will be interred at the ASC cemetery in Wichita. 

Donations in memory of Sr. Philomena may be sent to the Adorers at 4233 Sulphur Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63109 or made online at

Sister Philomena wrote, “God has been so good—the sisters, my family, the residents, employees, the St. Michael’s Pastors and Parishioners and the people of Mulvane, Kansas—I thank them all for the support given to me.  God bless them.”  To that we add, thank you for being a blessing to us and to so many where you lived and faithfully served.  

Adorers of the Blood of Christ

United States Region

February 29, 2024

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