This year, three Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration with ties to west central Iowa and Carroll are celebrating their spiritual Diamond Jubilees – Sister Lucille (Mary Linus) Winnike, marking 70 years of vowed religious life; and Sister Helen Elsbernd and Sister Cormarie Wernimont, both achieving 60 years of religious life.
"On behalf of St. Anthony Regional Hospital, I would like to thank Sister Lucille, Sister Helen and Sister Cormarie for their life-long commitment to serving others," said Ed Smith, St. Anthony President and CEO. "Through their experience and dedication, they have touched thousands of lives. We are honored to have had their guidance and wisdom."
Sister Lucille entered St. Rose Convent, La Crosse, Wisconsin, from West Point, Iowa. She studied at Viterbo College, now Viterbo, before completing a bachelor's degree in math with a minor in physics from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She went on to achieve a master's degree in math at Notre Dame and a Permanent Certification for Secondary Administration at Creighton University. Sister Lucille's teaching ministry included five years in elementary schools: Superior (Cathedral) and Eau Claire (Immaculate Conception), Wisconsin, and Carroll (St. Peter and St. Paul), Iowa. She taught high school math and science and later served as principal in Ashland (De Padua) and Prairie du Chien (St. Mary's Academy), Wisconsin, Bozeman (Holy Rosary), Montana, and Bellevue (Marquette), Iowa. In 1972, Sister Lucille was elected provincial of the Central Province where she served until 1978 when elected FSPA president. In 1983, she undertook spiritual direction and retreat ministry. Having studied at the Jesuit Institute at Guelph in Ontario, Canada, as well as at Notre Dame, Sister Lucille served those ministries in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, from 1983 until 1996.
She went on to minister at Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center, Hiawatha, Iowa, when it opened that year. Happily, Sister Lucille continues to serve Prairiewoods today.
Sister Helen Elsbernd received a bachelor's degree in chemistry with a minor in mathematics from Viterbo College in La Crosse. She began her career as an elementary school teacher in Eau Claire (Sacred Heart), Wisconsin, and then taught high school chemistry and mathematics in Provo (St. Francis School), Utah. After receiving a master's degree and a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry, she served as a chemistry faculty member at Viterbo. Sister Helen ministered as such from 1969 to 1976, then as the university's academic dean for 13 years. In 1989, she became dean and vice president of educational affairs at Marycrest College, Davenport, Iowa, which became Teikyo Marycrest University in 1991.
Throughout the last several decades, Sister Helen has served as a board member for numerous health care, religious and civic organizations, including 12 years on the St. Anthony Regional Hospital & Nursing Home Board of Directors, and is currently serving on the St. Anthony Foundation Board of Directors. Sister Helen was elected vice president of FSPA in 1994. After serving two terms, she ministered as director of Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center in Hiawatha, Iowa, from 2003 to 2010. She served the next four years there as a volunteer before being re-elected FSPA vice president in 2014; a position she continues to hold today.
Sister Cormarie Wernimont entered St. Rose Convent, La Crosse, Wisconsin, from Carroll (Our Lady of St. Carmel Parish), Iowa, she served the ministry of dietetics. With a bachelor's degree in dietetics and a minor in chemistry from La Crosse's Viterbo College, Sister Cormarie began her ministry at St. Francis Hospital, now Mayo Clinic Health System – Franciscan Healthcare, La Crosse, Wisconsin, in 1960. She then served St. Anthony Hospital in Carroll, Iowa, Sacred Heart Hospital, now Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and in Des Moines, Iowa, for 19 years. From 1980 to 1985, Sister Cormarie ministered as assistant to the treasurer of the FSPA, and then received a master's degree in medical dietetics from St. Louis University in Missouri. In St. Louis, she served as clinical dietician at Alexian Brothers Hospital and St. Louis Regional Medical Center until 1997. During that time, Sister Cormarie spent one year as director of pastoral care at St. Anthony. In 1997, she began caring for her father and serving as receptionist and volunteer at Carroll Health Center, ministering as such until 2000. For the next two years, Sister Cormarie ministered as a dietitian and case manager at the Diabetes Prevention Program in St. Louis. After serving as a volunteer in Maplewood, Minnesota, from 2002 to 2005, she returned to St. Louis and the Diabetes Prevention Program as a patient research coordinator.
Sister Cormarie retired to Hiawatha, Iowa, in 2008, then in La Crosse in 2010. She continues her ministry of prayer and hospitality there today.
Jubilee celebrations for each of the three Sisters were held earlier this spring.