Sister Mildred Katzer, 100, an Ursuline Sister of Mount Saint Joseph, died May 19, 2019, in Richmond, Kan., in her 82nd year of religious life. She was an Ursuline of Paola, Kan., prior to their merger with Mount Saint Joseph in 2008. A native of Garnett, Kan., she liked making nun dolls and teaching Vacation Bible School.
Sister Mildred taught for 59 years in Kansas and Oklahoma. In Kansas she taught at St. John School, Greeley (1943-45 and 1973-85); Holy Name School, Kansas City (1945-54); and Queen of the Holy Rosary School, Overland Park (1954-58 and 1960-72). She also taught at Immaculate Conception School in Tulsa, Okla., (1940-43), where she also helped cook, and at St. John School, Bartlesville, Okla., (1958-60).
Sister Mildred was a remedial teacher for St. Agnes School, Shawnee Mission, Kan., (1985-90), and a religion teacher/tutor for Holy Angels School, Garnett, (1990-99). From 1999-2019, she visited the sick in St. Teresa Parish in Richmond.
Survivors include the members of her religious community; a sister, Rita Jackson of Ottawa, Kan., and nieces and nephews.
The funeral Mass will be at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, May 23, 2019, at St. Teresa Church, Richmond. Visitation and a vigil service will be from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday at the church. Visitation will continue from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Thursday. Burial will be in the Ursuline Cemetery in Paola, Kan.
Donations in memory of Sister Mildred may be made to the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph, 8001 Cummings Road, Maple Mount, KY 42356.
In Remembrance of Sister M. Mildred Katzer, OSU
May 23, 2019
Sister Pat Lynch, OSU
Assistant Congregational Leader
Sister Mildred was born on December 3, 1918 in her home near Garnett and was given the name Mary Agnes Katzer. She was baptized at Holy Angels Church on January 16, 1919 and received the sacrament of confirmation there on May 15, 1930. She was the 7th child of 10 children born to Joseph and Catherine Katzer. Her five brothers and four sisters were Hermon, Dorothy (Sister Genevieve), Leonard, Stephen, Walter, Josephine (Sister Imelda), Ambrose, Rita and Eunice. We extend our deepest sympathy to Rita, her only living sister. And also, to all of her relatives…nieces, nephews, cousins and greats and great greats who are connected to her. We are grateful to the staff of the Richmond Healthcare and Rehabilitation facility for their kind care for Sister in her last days.
We especially want to thank Sister Loretta Roeckers, her Sister in community, her co-worker in education, her friend, her caregiver, her strong support who made it possible for Sister Mildred to stay in Kansas and live out her days in the place she loved best.
She describes her early years as “one big, happy, active family. We attended school at CedarPoint District 88 in Anderson County, which was 1 1/3 miles away. We went to Holy Angels Church in Garnett 4 ½ miles away. We prayed morning prayer, prayers before meals and evening prayer in our dining room before going to bed. We had no running water in our house or electricity. Our cooking and heating were done by wood stoves. Our drinking water came from a cistern. We had a big garden and many fruit trees, chickens, pigs, cows and horses.” As a little girl, she said she and her sisters would play “church,” where they dressed up in their mother’s clothes and put dish towels on their heads. Twelve years ago, when she celebrated her 70th Jubilee, she wrote: “When I was about seven or eight, I thought I wanted to be a Sister. I was standing at the top of the steps and overheard my sister Josephine asking Mother what she would think if we became Sisters. Her reply was, “I think that would be nice.” It was only much later, after she and two of her sisters joined the convent, that she learned that her mother had wanted to be a Sister herself and it was her dream that one of her daughters would become a sister.
She attended vacation bible school at Holy Angels Church for several summers and was taught by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth. She said, “They seemed to love our Lord and were happy people.” When her two sisters, Dorothy and Josephine went to Paola to enter the Ursuline convent, she wrote: “They seemed so happy and grew in love of Jesus. I made a Ladies’ Retreat in Paola, went to see Mother Jerome and asked her if I could come to be a Sister. This I did and am glad and grateful I did so.” Later, she described her trip to enter the community: “I came on ice. Solid ice. I was determined to get here.” She did not come empty-handed. She said she brought a dowry of chickens in the back of her parents’ truck. (don’t know if the chickens were alive or dead, but they were probably frozen!).
She entered the Ursuline community in January of 1937 and was received into the Novitiate on August 31, 1937. She made temporary profession of vows on September 30, 1938 and made her final vows on August 30, 1941.
Besides learning lessons in the school of life, Sister Mildred was educated in several places including: Ursuline Academy and Junior College, the College of St. Teresa (now Avila University in KC MO), where she got her teaching degree, the college of St. Scholastica in Atchison, the University of Dayton, the University of Kansas and the Teacher’s College of Emporia, now Emporia State University.
Sister Mildred taught in the following schools: Immaculate Conception in Tulsa, OK; St. John’s in Greeley, KS; Holy Name in KCK; Queen of the Holy Rosary in Overland Park, KS; St. John’s in Bartlesville, OK; St. Agnes in Fairway, KS; Holy Trinity in Paola, KS and Holy Angels in Garnett, KS. She spent many, many summers teaching Vacation Bible School in these places: Garnett, Waverly, Emerald, Wea, Hartford, Tonganoxie, Scipio, Richmond, Prairie Village in KS and also in Dewey and Nowata, OK.
Among her notes we found this notation titled: “Unusual Times”: She wrote: “At Queen of the Holy Rosary, we lived in an old store on Metcalf Street…six of us cooked and ate meals in the school, washed clothes in Father’s basement for about three months…quite an experience!” After that, a convent was built for the Sisters, and I’m sure she enjoyed the modern conveniences much more.
After teaching in schools for almost 60 years, Sister Mildred worked in parish ministry here at St. Therese Parish in Richmond. Ten years ago when she filled out her yearly paper for the Archives, (remember, she was 90 years old), she described her parish ministry as: “witness in the area as a Sister, visit the Nursing Home, do crafts, etc., etc., Adoration on Thursday in Church, leading the rosary, VBS for Richmond and Scipio in the summer.” Her plan was to continue to do this as long as she can “see and hear and her marbles all roll in the right direction.” I think she accomplished that! Two years ago, she celebrated her 80th Jubilee as an Ursuline Sister.
Sister had many hobbies, which included ”fancy work and reading”, crocheting, dressing Sister dolls, writing poetry, writing stories, making rosaries, lap robes, baptismal bonnets and ceramic pieces. At one time she also took care of two parakeets. Everyone knows about the coloring book she had published in 1990 “The Christ Child Visits the Farm.” The illustrations were drawn by her sister, Sister Imelda, and the poems were written by Sister Mildred. She was probably most famous for her nun dolls, which were a labor of love for her. One Ursuline doll is in a museum in Lourdes, France.
Looking back on her decision to enter religious life, Sister Mildred said, “I never questioned it. I thought it was what God wanted me to do, and I decided I’d do my best. It’s been a happy life.” That was 12 years ago, but I think she would still say that now.
In an article marking her 60th Jubilee in 1997, it stated: Sister Mildred’s spiritual life has been enriched through her ministries “in striving to share the message of Christ’s teaching with others and hopefully I grew in His love too!” She also found the many children she taught a source of inspiration. “The children whose lives have been a good part of my life as a teacher are examples of God’s goodness and kindness to each one of us. Often, they were my teacher. These years have passed quickly, and already many of those I taught are now in eternal life.” Her prayer for those who have helped her in life’s journey is to be reunited with them in heaven. I don’t doubt they are having a grand reunion! She is with her former pupils and her beloved family.
Sister Mildred, thank you for sharing your life and your love of God with us. May you rest in peace!