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On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 2014, at 7:45am, Sr. Josetta Marie was welcomed into the arms of the God she served faithfully for sixty-five years as a Franciscan Sister of the Poor. About five months prior to her death, Sr. Josetta moved to the Magnificat Communityof St. Clare Convent where she could receive needed assistance. Following a period of declining physical and mental health, she became confined to bed, and palliative care was initiated. The Sisters began a prayer vigil on December 1, saying the rosary and other prayers to accompany her in her last days.

At a time when the United States was being challenged by the effects of the Great Depression, Joseph Ignatius Lonnemann and Henrietta Anna Raters married and began their family. Joseph supported the family as a co-owner of a jewelry store still in existence today in Bellevue, Kentucky. Their fifth of six children, Mary Alice, born September 18, 1930, in Covington, Kentucky, grew up in an atmosphere filled with love and a deep faith in God.

After graduating from Notre Dame Academy in Covington, Mary Alice attended St. Elizabeth Hospital School of Nursing where she met the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor. Upon completing her first year of studies, Mary Alice put them on hold and entered St. Clare Convent in Cincinnati on September 12, 1949, to prepare for religious life. Mary Alice, who had a close relationship with her father and a deep devotion to St. Joseph, received the name Sr. Josetta Marie when she began the novitiate. Following her first profession on May 3, 1952, Sister returned to Covington to complete her nursing education. Sr. Josetta Marie practiced nursing at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Covington and Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital in Ashland, Kentucky. Sister spent a time of special preparation for her Perpetual Vows which she professed on May 3, 1957.

Following her Profession, Sr. Josetta Marie was missioned to St. Francis Hospital in Cincinnati and three years later began serving the sick and poor at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Dayton, Ohio, as the Director of Nursing Services. She was later missioned to St. Margaret Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas.

As a woman of deep prayer, Sr. Josetta Marie sought to discover God's call, always willing to sacrifice her personal comfort to serve wherever she was needed. In 1966, God called her to join the SFP missionaries in Brazil.
Because of her close family relationship, she might have preferred remaining within easy travel distance to Covington; however, she was motivated to give her all to God with enthusiasm. Once in Brazil, she was assigned to be the Director of Temporary Professed Sisters and later served as local minister and then as Regional Director of the Sisters in Brazil.

Sr. Josetta Marie returned to the USA in 1988 after serving in Brazil for twenty-two years. Following her return to North America, Sister served at Schroder Manor and was then missioned to the Franciscan Terrace in Cincinnati to care for the Sisters who were ill or aged.

Because of her many years in ministry in Brazil, Sr. Josetta Marie served as a Portuguese translator for the General Chapters and meetings of the SFP Congregation, for the Brothers of the Poor of St. Francis and when Brazilian Sisters visited. Portuguese was so burned into her memory that she sometimes spontaneously began speaking in her second loved language as her memory failed her. In her last days, she prayed and spoke in Portuguese.

After Sister was no longer obligated to maintain a specific schedule, prayer became her primary ministry. When asked to remember someone in prayer, she asked for the person's name and added it to a list she kept in a prayer book, promising to pray to dear St. Joseph.

Sr. Josetta Marie, as we bid our farewell to you, we remember your gentle presence with us in this life, and we ask you to remember us as you claim the reward of a well-lived life that was promised to you when you committed your life to God.


Sr. Arleen Bourquin, SFP

Published: January 20, 2015