December 9, 2011

Sisters of St. Benedict honor five jubilarians

Special to The Criterion

Five Sisters of St. Benedict of Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove are celebrating their monastic jubilees this year.

Benedictine Sister Mary Constance Kleeman recently marked her 75th anniversary as a member of the monastic community.

Benedictine Sisters Phyllis Gronotte, Mary Seghers, Jeanne Voges and Harriet Woehler recently celebrated their 60th anniversaries. They were founding members of Our Lady of Grace Monastery in 1949.

Sister Mary Constance made her renewal of promises, which she first made three-quarters of a century ago, a milestone that is achieved by very few sisters. She professed the same desires that she first made at Monastery Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand, Ind.

During her ceremony, Sister Mary Constance once again promised stability in the monastery, fidelity to the monastic way of life and obedience according to the Rule of St. Benedict as she did many years ago.

A native of Dewitt, Ill., Sister Mary Constance attended Academy Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand prior to her entrance into the community in 1934.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in education at the former St. Benedict College in Ferdinand and the University of Indianapolis, and master’s degree in education at St. Francis College in Fort Wayne, Ind.

For 43 years, Sister Mary Constance ministered as a grade school teacher or principal.

In the archdiocese, she served at the former St. Paul School in Tell City, St. Ambrose School in Seymour, St. Joseph School in Corydon, the former Assumption School in Indianapolis, the former St. Joseph School in Clark County, Christ the King School in Indianapolis, the former St. Columba School in Columbus and St. Mary of the Knobs School in Floyds Knobs.

Upon her retirement in 1982, Sister Mary Constance ministered in the library at Our Lady of Grace Monastery, tutored children and volunteered for various organizations in the Indianapolis area.

A native of Evansville, Ind., Sister Phyllis Gronotte entered Monastery Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in education at the former St. Benedict College in Ferdinand and master’s degree in education at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis.

In the archdiocese, Sister Phyllis ministered at Christ the King School in Indianapolis, St. Bartholomew School in Columbus, the former St. Columba School in Columbus, St. Joseph School in Corydon, the former St. Michael School in Cannelton, St. Pius X School in Indianapolis, the former St. Paul School in Tell City and the former St. Mark School in Perry County.

In 1965, Sister Phyllis began a six-year missionary assignment in Cali, Columbia.

She also ministered as a nurse at St. Paul Hermitage in Beech Grove, and in the health care department at the monastery.

After completing studies to become a licensed practical nurse, Sister Phyllis served as a nurses’ aide at St. Paul Hermitage and worked in the physical therapy department.

She also spent time at St. Joseph Hall at the monastery caring for the elderly sisters.

Presently, Sister Phyllis serves at the library at the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio.

A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Sister Mary Seghers graduated from the former Academy Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand then entered the monastery.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in education at the former St. Benedict College and master’s degree in education at the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Ind.

In the archdiocese, Sister Mary taught at the former Assumption School in Indianapolis, St. Bartholomew School in Columbus, Christ the King School in Indianapolis, the former St. Paul School in Tell City, St. Joseph School in Corydon, the former St. John the Baptist School in Starlight and the former St. Joseph School in Clark County, where she also served as principal for three years.

Among her ministries, Sister Mary Seghers served in the resource center of the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education.

In 1986, she was named activity director of St. Paul Hermitage in Beech Grove, where she enjoyed keeping the residents engaged in activities and making their lives more enjoyable.

In 2001, Sister Mary was appointed the archivist for her religious community. Her duties include keeping accurate records of the sisters and documenting monastic community events.

A native of Tell City, Sister Jeanne Voges attended the former Academy Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand then entered the convent.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in education at St. Benedict College and master’s degree in English at St. Louis University in Missouri. She also studied at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., and Catherine Spalding College in Louisville, Ky.

In the archdiocese, Sister Jeanne taught at the former Our Lady of Grace Academy in Beech Grove. She also taught Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults classes at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Clarksville.

After teaching for 23 years, she returned to the monastery in 1975 to serve in the housekeeping department and as guest mistress.

Sister Jeanne also ministered as editor of Encounter, the community magazine which is now called Branching Out, for nine years.

In 1987, Sister Jeanne began a two-year missionary assignment in Cali, Columbia.

Her next ministry was as dietary manager at St. Paul Hermitage.

In 1993, Sister Jeanne was named pastoral associate of St. John Parish in Newburgh, Ind., and served there for 18 years.

She retired recently and returned to the monastery, where she performs various duties for her religious community.

A native of Evansville, Sister Harriet Woehler attended Academy Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand before her entrance into the community in 1949.

She attended the former St. Benedict College in Ferdinand, and earned a bachelor’s degree in music and master’s degree in music at Butler University in Indianapolis.

In the archdiocese, Sister Harriet taught music at the former St. Paul School in Tell City, St. Anthony of Padua School in Clarksville and the former Our Lady of Grace Academy in Beech Grove.

She also ministered as pastoral associate and music director at St. Barnabas Parish in Indianapolis.

Sister Harriet also served her religious community for several years as formation director and helped prepare young women for religious life.

Presently, she serves as liturgy director for her monastic community. †

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