Sister Kathleen Dooley entered the Sisters of the Divine Savior the same year the Second Vatican Council was drawing to a close. It was 1964. Her struggles and joys discerning life as a Salvatorian Sister coincided with renewal in the Catholic Church. In 1967 Sr. Kathleen made first vows. She began an 11-year ministry doing secretarial work for the SDS Province in Milwaukee. It was a natural fit. She had worked as a secretary for 16 years after graduating from high school.
In the late 1970s, Sr. Kathleen answered God’s call to pastoral ministry. She spent a year at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, Calif., and then a year in a clinical pastoral education program at Bon Secours Hospital in Massachusetts. When Sr. Kathleen returned to Milwaukee in 1980, she became the first full-time Christian chaplain at Mount Sinai Medical Center. She cherishes her five years there, where she served patients and their family members from diverse faith traditions.
The words of novelist John Steinbeck are the perfect choice for Sister Beverly Heitke to sketch her 60 years as a Sister of the Divine Savior: Oftentimes, we don’t take a journey; the journey takes us. And, you might say we have the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters to thank for Sr. Beverly’s vocation journey as a Salvatorian.
Twelve-year-old Beverly Heitke was enrolled at St. Mary’s Parish School in Portage, Wis. and taught by Sinsinawa Dominicans. Her admiration for the sisters sparked her interest in religious life. She shared with two of her teachers her dream to become a medical doctor and someday care for needy people in Africa. Since the Dominicans’ ministry focused on teaching, they suggested Beverly speak with the Salvatorian Sisters who owned Divine Savior Hospital in Portage. She soon learned the Salvatorians not only had hospitals but foreign missions too.
Sr. Beverly completed her high school education at the Sisters of the Divine Savor Prep School in Milwaukee and entered the novitiate in 1956. As her novitiate drew to a close, Superior General Mother Olympia Heuel called on Salvatorian Sisters to volunteer for the new mission field in Tanganyika, East Africa. Sr. Beverly volunteered and soon after professing first vows in 1957, boarded an ocean liner bound for Rome, Italy and the Salvator Mundi International School of Nursing.
Sister Pauline Feiner’s childhood years on a farm in Spring Green, Wis. included early education in a one-room school house. As the tenth child of Amelia and Frank Feiner’s 12 children, she knew well the give-and-take needed to live in community by the time she entered the Sisters of the Divine Savior.
Pauline came to Milwaukee in 1952 to attend Divine Savior Convent High School. She took the religious name Mary Neil and professed vows in 1957. Sr. Pauline attended Marquette University and later received a master’s degree in Theology from St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn. Her early years ministering as a Salvatorian were as a teacher or principal in Catholic grade schools in Wisconsin, Maryland and Minnesota.
For more than 20 years, Sr. Pauline served as director of religious education for several parishes. In all her parish-based work over the years, she has embraced the privilege of pastoral care ministry. She also shared her gift for leadership with the SDS province as a Provincial Team member and coordinator for Salvatorian Heights. Serving in formation ministry, Sr. Pauline has accompanied our temporarily professed members in their vocation discernment.
Like many young women of the ‘50s, Sister Virginia Honish felt drawn to religious life from being taught by Catholic Sisters, including Sinsinawa Dominicans at St. Robert’s School in Shorewood, Wis. While most girls from St. Robert’s went on to high school at Holy Angels Academy, the second daughter of Marian and Francis Honish wanted to attend the new Divine Savior High School on 100th Street and Capitol Drive. The city bus only went as far as 60th Street, so Mary Virginia rode Divine Savior’s school bus “Christopher” the rest of the way.
The Salvatorian Sisters’ influence inspired Mary Virginia to enter the SDS community right out of high school. She joined the Sisters in 1955 and was received into the novitiate in 1956 with the religious name Francis de Sales. She professed first vows in 1957 and just days later moved to Schofield, Wis. to teach a class of 57 second-graders at St. Therese School.
Sr. Virginia returned to Milwaukee to attend Alverno College, and later earned her master’s degree in school administration from UW-Milwaukee. She dedicated her life to education, including 11 years as principal at St. Pius X in Wauwatosa, Wis. For 15 years, Sr. Virginia took time off from teaching to serve in Province leadership as a Team member and then as Provincial Leader.
For Sister Rita Barman, 60 years as a Salvatorian has been a family affair. Her sister Jane is a Salvatorian Sister, and her deceased sister Marietta was a Lay Salvatorian. They were three of Frances and Edward Barman’s 11 daughters and 1 son who came to know the Salvatorian Sisters at St. Joseph School in East Bristol, Wis.
Sr. Rita recalls, “I always thought of the sisters as being close to God, and it enkindled in my heart a desire to be close to God. I believe this was the kernel of my vocation.”
She came to Milwaukee to enter the Salvatorian community in 1955, and remembers feeling very happy upon her entrance to the Novitiate when she received her religious name Rosalima.
Sr. Rita taught at Wisconsin elementary schools for 17 years in Milwaukee, Schofield, Wauwatosa, Wausau and Dickeyville, as well as in Lakeville, Minn. She loved using creativity to instill excitement about learning. At one point, she headed up a summer program for students in Milwaukee’s central city. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Marquette University and later her certification in elementary education from Cardinal Stritch College.