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Evansville, Indiana
December 6, 1996     The Message
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December 6, 1996

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana isterhood ctines share a double bond EtLTGHES staff writer Sisters enter very gently. they enter togeth- bond of sister- them. Not only the of St. Bene- special covenant of their Were born at the turn of Louisville, Ky., to lren. Today, EdWard Heckel is Sis- 1 turn 90 entire adults m schools the Diocese Then, at an of . age are retired, on two more s. First, they worked m a nursing n they assumed :he post office Ferdinand. Ferdinand go when Sister She says call to the reli- sh she Was a yo,,,,, reraembers dr ess s-s -- ligious sister e. by the n- time lSter Francille take her to SChools. ld, she iking and at 1923, she ' Minimum ' Interesl deposit $5,0(X) entered the Benedictine order. "I knew it long before," she said, "Something was pulling me." Although Sister Mary Edward says she felt the same pull, she resisted. "I didn't want to have any- thing to do with the convent. I was just the opposite of her." She attended high school, and then went on to business college. After college, she worked in an insurance office. Finally, at age 23, she headed to Ferdinand to also become a Benedictine. "I decided to go because the Lord was calling me." Exactly two years after Sister Francille entered the monastery, Sister Mary Edward joined her. After making their vows, both Sisters began teaching. Sister Mary Edward remem- bers a day shortly after making her first vows when she was called to the Reverend Mother's office. "She told me, 'Be ready to go on mission at two this after- noon.' "I said, 'Reverend Mother. I don't know anything about teaching,' but she assured me that I would be fine." The young nun spent the next six weeks teaching sixth graders at St. Joseph School, Evansville, substituting for a sister who was in the hospital. The next February, the Rev- erend Mother called her into the office again and told her, "I want you to go on mission to Siberia." Sister Mary Edward said she wasn't sure if she would be going to Russia because "I didn't know where Siberia was." Her assignment turned out to be in the little country parish near Birdseye in southern Indi- ana. In those early days, she says she often felt "so bewildered, that I didn't know what to do," but the Reverend Mother always assured her that she would do "all right." Sister Francille's first assign- ment was to walk down the hill from the monastery and teach at St. Ferdinand School. They taught in both Catholic and public schools throughout the diocese. Sister Francille usu- ally taught the primary grades, while Sister Mary Edward 3 Sister Francille Heckel and Sister Mary Edward Heckel have been members of the Bene- dictine community in Ferdinand since the 1920s. taught the middle school grades, mostly eighth grade, and for 40 years she served as principal of her schools. She still remembers teaching religion in the public schools, and then getting the directive that religion would no longer be part of the public school curricu- lum. "I'll never forget that day, when we were told we couldn't teach religion, that we had to teach it outside of the school day. It was a shock." Although she spent her adult life in the classroom, Sister Francille said she always had a dream of becoming a nurse. For many years when she was a teacher, she would spend her summers working as a nurses' aide at St. Joseph Hospital in Huntingburg. "There was some- thing about nursing that I felt drawn to." She also helped with patients in the monastery infir- mary, because "I always loved to take care of elderly people." Then, when both Sisters were in their eighties, they were offered jobs working with the patients at Scenic ttills Nursing Home in Huntingburg. Their brother had been a resident there, and they had been fre- quent guests, When offered jobs; they declined, saying they would con- tinue to volunteer their services with the patients. The nursing home administration insisted, however. 'rhey said, 'we will pay you,' so we had to get our shots." They worked there for two years. Their last endeavor was to direct the mail room at the monastery, which they did for six years. Finally, Sister Francille asked to be relieved of those duties, because of failing eye- sight. They say that over the years their Reverend Mothers were always very considerate of the sister relationship, and several times they were assigned to work together in missions. "We were together in Ireland, Dubois, Schnellville and St. Anthony." Today, the bond of sisterhood continues to thrive. It has grown into a deep appreciation, and the), have become one another's biggest fans. Sister Edward says of Sister Francille: ;'She has a whole lot more religion that I have, and I appreciate her very much. She's been sick a lot in her life, that's what makes her so patient with everybody else. "She's very sweet, she's patient, understanding, and always ready to help. She's very generous and everything that's positive could be applied to her. I know she's certainly been a lot to me in my life." Sister Francille responds in kind: "] depended a lot upon her, and she was always ready to help me when I need hen" PKGS nelburg. rnery J S 87, I ii TAWlL ELECTRONICS, INC. COMPUTERS, NETWORKS, SALES & SERVICES INDUSTRIAL ELECTRONICS PARTS DESIGN, INSTALLATION, TRAINING & REPAIR ON LOCAL & WIDE AREA NETWORKS LANTASTIC - NOVELL UNIX- ZENIX 812-425-1100 2121 NORTH BEDFORD AVENUE EVANSVILLE, IN 47711 SERVING THE TRI-STATE SINCE 1977 i i i !l i i ii i J People we care about... Following is a feature in the Message, designed to help draw together the People of God in southwestern Indiana. Readers are invited to submit information about people who may ben- efit by some extra prayers and attention. Father Kenneth Walker reports that surgery for his father went well at Good Samaritan Hospital, Vincennes. John E. Walker is from rural Montgomery. Services for Father Aloysius Barthel, 82, who died Nov. 30, were held Dec. 3 at St. Boniface Church, Evansville, with burial in St. Joseph Cemetery. Archbishop Daniel Buechlein, Archabbot Lambert Reilly and Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger officiated. Father Barthel was ordained to the priesthood in 1938, He: served in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Survivors include two sisters, Erna M. Barthel of Evans- ville and Rita Hornfeck of Binningham,Ala., and two broth- ers, Benedict of St.Meinrad and Romard of Austin, Tex, Please send information for PEOPLE WE CARE ABOUT to Mary Ann Hughes, The Message, P.O, B(v 4169, Evansville, IN 477")4.