Sister Frances Marie Lendle, SDS (formerly Sr. Agnella) served in education for 52 years. Her professional and personal development was always a high priority and her zeal for promoting education on all levels distinguishes her 78 years as a Salvatorian Sister.
Sr. Frances Marie was born in 1922 in Chippewa Falls, Wis., Diocese of La Crosse. When her mother died 10 years later, leaving four young children, her father moved them to Bloomer, Wis. near his family. It was at St. Paul’s School in Bloomer where Sr. Frances Marie first met the Sisters of the Divine Savior and felt called to religious life. She attended Divine Savior Convent High School in Milwaukee and entered the novitiate in 1938, receiving the religious name Agnella. She pronounced her first vows a year later and final vows in 1945.
Sr. Frances Marie graduated from Mount Mary College with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and minors in history & English. She earned a master’s degree at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and also pursued graduate studies in theology, religious studies, math and physics.
Sr. Francis Marie started teaching in 1941 at Milwaukee’s Mother of Good Counsel, and later at Holy Name in Wausau, Wis. and St. Mary in Landover Hills, Md. After moving into administration, she travelled to parish schools staffed by Salvatorians to assist the principals and teachers. She was later named director of education and dean of Divine Savior College in Milwaukee. During that time she was also appointed to serve on the Provincial Council.
Sr. Frances Marie moved to the Diocese of Kalamazoo, Mich., where she served as director of religious education and assistant superintendent of schools for 13 years. She was instrumental in implementing a family-centered religious education program, inspired by her belief that parents have a sacred responsibility as primary educators that no one else can fill.
Following her ministry in Kalamazoo, Sr. Frances Marie moved to Birmingham, Ala., where she was the diocesan director of religious education (DRE) for 11 years. She led the way in developing a catechetical formation program for the diocese and a parish-based adult education program. She also completed a DRE handbook for parishes, and coordinated several diocesan ministries conferences. Also through her efforts, Spring Hill College of Mobile, Ala. established a Birmingham Campus offering a masters degree in theological studies. The National Conference of Catechetical Leadership honored her in 1996 for her many contributions in religious education.