In Memoriam


(1927-2020)

Beginning in the mid-1920s, the south side of Lansing, Michigan, was home to the Hengesbach family: Harold and Irma (Mikulaschek) and, as the years went on, four daughters: Barbara, Anita, Elaine, and Shirley.

Harold was born in the small town of Westphalia, Michigan, a largely German-Catholic community twenty-five miles northwest of Lansing. His family moved to Lansing when he was sixteen, and it was there, at a party, that he met the daughter of Ludwig and Fanny Mikulaschek.

The Mikulascheks and their daughter were immigrants from Sarajevo, which at that time was part of Austria-Hungary. Ludwig served in the Army there, and when his enlistment was complete he could either re-enlist or return to Vienna to manage the family sugar-beet business. As Barbara told the story in her autobiography:

Neither choice was too appealing and stories of “streets paved with gold” in the land across the Atlantic sounded more interesting. Ludwig and Fanny Mikulaschek and their only child came to America. Mother was four years old at the time. The young family lived in New York for awhile and then made the move to Lansing, Michigan. Grandpa got a job at Oldsmobile. He never did find the “gold,” but he was happy earning an honest living for his young wife and beautiful daughter.

Read more about Sister Barbara (pdf)

make a memorial giftMemorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221. 

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(1929-2020)

When we reflect about our Aunt, three words seem to stand out:
-selflessness
-leadership
-kindness

Her selflessness made her the amazing and unforgettable nun we all know. Her strong leadership as a principal was proven over her 38-year tenure at Visitation and [she had a] kindness and ability to make everyone she met feel comfortable and important.

Colleen Monahan Hoffman and Kathy Monahan Brannon were describing their aunt, Sister Thomas Leo Monahan, in a remembrance for Sister’s wake service in November 2020. They also shared fond memories of their “Aunt Toots” coming for visits at their grandparents’ summer home in McHenry, Illinois, her love of cats and McDonald’s hamburgers, and the way she “always wanted to hear what you had to say.”

“Toots is an unusual name for a nun and we’re not sure where it came from, but its uniqueness fits the woman we all know and love,” the two nieces’ remembrance concluded. 

Kathleen Alice Monahan, the future Sister Thomas Leo, was born on September 20, 1929, in Chicago to Roy and Kathryn (Devine) Monahan. She was one of seven children in the family, along with four brothers – William, James, Robert and John – and two sisters, Jean and Lois.

Read more about Sister Thomas Leo (PDF)

make a memorial giftMemorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221. 

Leave your comments and remembrances (if you don't see the comment box below, click on the "Read More" link).


(1925-2020)

Rita was a true Dominican artist preacher. Personally, I found her to be a woman of few words but believe she found her voice in the words of our Franciscan Brother, Francis of Assisi. “Preach always. When necessary, use words.” Rita loudly and clearly proclaimed God’s Word through her art of sacred spaces. These chapels and churches are “living examples” of her pouring out and sharing the fruits of her contemplation.

All the chapels and churches she designed and built with Barbara were not just buildings but projects whose life force built and sustained communities brought together in the process. … We will never know how many folks enter a chapel or church designed by Rita and Barbara and say to themselves: “This is where I meet God.”

These words from Pat Daly, president of the Dominican Institute for the Arts, were a reflection upon the life of Sister Rita Schiltz, who with Sister Barbara Chenicek designed sacred spaces across the U.S. in their INAI Studio for many years.

Rita Celene Schiltz was born on October 6, 1925, in Chicago to Nicholas and Barbara (Droessler) Schiltz. She was the couple’s fifth child and third daughter.

Nicholas was born on a farm near Bancroft, Iowa, while Barbara was born in Kieler, Wisconsin. Her father, like Nicholas’ father a farmer, found the rocky Kieler soil difficult to till, and bought land near Bancroft – down the road from the Schiltz farm. “Dad would go to the Droessler farm to spend time with the boys, and eventually to court Mom,” Sister Rita wrote in her autobiography.

Read more about Sister Rita (pdf)

make a memorial giftMemorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221. 

 

 

INAI Studio's 40th Anniversary Celebration, with Sisters Rita Schiltz and Barbara Chenicek at Weber Center Auditorium, June 2, 2013

 

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(1923-2020)

Soon after Winifred Clare Mary Lynch came into this world at Dr. Mill’s Private Hospital in Morristown, New Jersey, she already had a story to tell for the rest of her life: a grieving woman who had lost her own child came into the hospital nursery and took her.

“According to my mother, [the woman] picked out the most beautiful child!” Sister Winnie, as she was long known, said in her autobiography. “After a frantic search, the nurses found me and returned me to my dear mother.”

Winifred Lynch was born May 25, 1923, to Patrick and Agnes (Regan) Lynch, both of them Irish immigrants. Patrick was born in County Meath, while Agnes came from County Mayo. The couple immigrated to America in the early part of the 20th century and settled near siblings in Morristown. Four children came into the family: Elizabeth (known as Tootsie), Catherine, Winifred, and Peter. Winnie later learned that her mother once spoke of another child born between Catherine and Winnie, but the particulars remained a mystery.

Before Winnie started school, the Lynches moved to Chappaqua, New York, where Patrick worked for a wealthy family. Her early education was at St. Mary School, but when she was in sixth grade, she and Peter transferred to Horace Greeley School in Chappaqua. While she struggled with her experience at St. Mary, she enjoyed her time at Horace Greeley and excelled in field hockey.

“I was told that I was always a lively active child,” she said in her autobiography. But that liveliness made her mishap-prone; once while pretending to be a clown, she put pussy willows into both ears and a piece ended up stuck deep inside one ear. She also put a pitchfork through her foot and, when she was ten years old, fell with a ruler in her mouth and “removed my own tonsils.”

Read more about Sister Winifred (PDF)

make a memorial giftMemorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221.

 

 

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Cemetery of the Adrian Dominican Sisters

Our Adrian Dominican cemetery with its circular headstones is a beautiful place of rest for women who gave their lives in service to God — and a peaceful place for contemplation and remembrance. 


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