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More About Our Foundresses:
Sister Esther (Anna Susan) Schmitz: Anna Susan Schmitz was born on August 22, 1895 in Independence, IA, the oldest of 12 children of John B. and May Kayswer Schmitz. She was baptized on August 25 in St. Joseph's Church and was confirmed November 16, 1915. After her elementary schooling, Ana helped at home until she entered Mount St. Francis on August 15, 1917. As one of the older girls in a larger family, Sister Esther was responsible for the care of the younger children, but she still found time to practice piano, ride a motorcycle, and enjoy movies featuring Mary Pickford and Lillian Gish. At reception, she received the name Mary Esther. She was perpetually professed on June 22, 1923.
Her lifetime ministry of music was spent in the following schools; Sacred Heart (Sioux City), Briar Cliff College (Sioux City), St. Edward's and St. Mary's (Waterloo), Keota, St. Mary's (Remsen), St. Christopher's (Midlothian). While in Midlothian, Sister also ministered to the sick and elderly in Oak Forest Hospital and served there as organist for their liturgies. In 1978, she retired to Holy Family Hall. During her many years in school music, Sister taught piano and violin and enjoyed providing the music for such productions as "Hansel and Gretel" and "Jack and the Beanstalk."
Like all true Franciscans, Sister realized that the Spirit of God is revealed and encountered in ordinary, everyday events of life. Sister enjoyed life, laughed a lot, loved her family and her community. Hospitable always, she delighted in small, intimate lunches with her Sisters or fellow teachers. "Coffee Klatches" usually feature her favorite cookies and ice cream. If joy and laughter are the gifts of living in the presence of God, Sister Esther certainly had open doors to the Kingdom.
Sister Leota (Rose Mary) Dreckman: Rose Mary Dreckman was born in Le Mars, IA on May 14, 1899, the second oldest of 11 children. After attending St. Joseph School in Le Mars, she remained at home to help with the household duties for several years. On October 14, 1921, Rose Mary entered Mount St. Francis taking the name Sister Mary Leota at Reception in 1922. Teaching sewing at Immaculate Conception Academy and at Dyersville were Sister Leota's first assignments. Later, she served at LaMotte, Briar Cliff College, Petersburg, and at St. Mary's Orphan Home. As one of the 12 pioneer Sisters who opened Briar Cliff College in 1930, Sister Leota had the responsibility of the College Kitchen and of overseeing the work of the students on contracts. Having great rapport with students, Sister Leota, smiling easily, gave corrections in a gentle, humorous way.
Sister spent 1942-1957 at Loras College, believing like Saint Francis "that to serve a priest is to serve Christ Himself." Her last assignment was the Sewing Room at Mount St. Francis. During her last assignment Sister wrote in her biography: "I found my work a great source of happiness, although as head of the Sewing Department, I at times found some of the changes difficult. However, by doing what I was asking to do, all things worked out for the best." Again, she wrote: "I have always been particularly proud of having been a member of a family of 11 children and have the most wonderful parents in the world. I believe that I owe my vocation to the great faith of my parents, who after a hard day's work prayed the rosary with us children during lent, advent, and my...and what a great joy it was for me to have three of my sisters join me in religious life!"
Sister is survived by her sisters, Cecilia Mayrose, Sister Theona, and Sister Margaret Clare; and by one brother, Conrad Dreckman; several cousins and nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, four brothers and two sisters, one of whom was Sister Angelora.