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Amazing Women

Throughout our history, we’ve been graced by amazing women among us. Their stories are the foundation on which we live today and build our future.

Dorothy Day Letter Discovered in Ruma Archives

Although I’ve done my fair share of daydreaming about that great discovery, I also knew it would probably never happen, until that Thursday, November 16 when I was once again sorting through Sister Angelita Myerscough’s files. There it was, buried in a file of articles about Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker. It’s a 1938 handwritten letter from Dorothy Day to Angelita, carefully protected by a plastic sleeve. Angelita knew what she had, even as a first-year temporarily professed Adorer.

Sister Antonia Strittmatter (1830-1907)

Walking the gangplank to board a ship and steaming toward an unknown land was a voyage of faith. Sister Antonia Strittmatter, joined by Sister Clementine Zerr and nearly 50 others left for the United States on Aug. 26, 1873. At the time, Antonia was 42 and a professed member of the congregation for 18 years. She left only a signature in a Ruma canonical register as primary evidence of her many years as an Adorer.

Sister “Schaffnerin” Theresa Billharz (1843-1921)

In the early days of the Ruma, Illinois, convent, the challenge of making something out of nothing was a common-day occurrence. That challenge often fell to Sister Theresa Billharz, who was so good at it, she earned the title of Sister Schaffnerin (treasurer or supervisor), who provided for all material needs of the struggling community.

Sister Gertrude Bohn (1865-1924)

Sister Gertrude Bohn was born in Baden, Germany, to Leopold and Sophia Gerber Bohn in 1865. When Mother Clementine Zerr traveled to Baden in 1879 to recruit other Sisters to join the group of Adorers in the United States, she met the young woman, known then as Rosina, who had entered the community, and who eagerly accepted the call to the American mission.

Mother Hildegarde Arnold (1889-1965)

Mother Hildegarde Arnold was born in Bremelau, Wurttemberg, Germany, August 19, 1889. Because she had an aunt in the community of Adorers, she decided to come to America. On August 10, 1914, accompanied by two other prospective postulants, she arrived at Nazareth Home in Alton, Illinois, to begin postulancy.

Sister Mary Philomena Heindl (1892-1990)

Coming from a faith-filled family, Sister Mary Philomena Heindl became a woman imbued with the gentle spirit of God. At age 19, she spoke to her parish priest about wanting to become a Sister. That proved providential, because when Sister Sophie Ruef came to the neighboring town seeking postulants for the Adorers’ mission in America, the pastor called for her.