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.
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.
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.
The Adorers’ commitment to child care stretches from our earliest days in America to our present-day care of asylum-seeking families at our Wichita Center. Mother Cecilia Gerber blazed the trail for us.
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.
One must wonder what thoughts went through the mind of Sister Jerome Gehringer when Mother Clementine Zerr chose her to accompany her, with two other Sisters, to establish a central house in Wichita, Kansas.
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.
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.
Genevieve Stieferman described herself as an active, mischievous little girl, with a streak of stubbornness. Yet throughout her life, she often felt misunderstood, and suffered bouts of discouragement. Her serenity came through her love of the beauty in nature, and in creating and developing the flower beds surrounding Our Lady’s Grotto at the motherhouse in Ruma, Illinois.