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maria k en

Even in the midst of her own vulnerability, toward the end of her life Sr. Maria Klosterman continued to shine brightly, always with a smile on her face, always reaching out to others, always kind and gentle of heart and spirit. Sr. Maria was the sunshine filling the hallway on the Magnificat Unit at St. Clare Convent and greeting everyone who came her way.

On Tuesday, March 9, 2015, at 2:00 pm, our Creator God welcomed Sr. Maria with a warm embrace. She served faithfully as a Franciscan Sister of the Poor for fifty-seven years, nursing the sick and helping to pioneer advances in cardiac care and gerontology as well as ministry to persons with AIDS.
In gradual declining health in her final years, she resided on and was a member of the Magnificat Unit, where she was cared for by the staff and encircled with love from Sisters and her family. With the Magnificat Unit community of Sisters, Sr. Maria enjoyed outings to local parks, created colorful paintings, participated in programs to stretch her mind and body, and prayed often in St. Clare Chapel.

One of ten children of Alvina Ranley and Walter Klosterman, Sr. Maria, baptized Arlene Loretta, joined her seven brothers and two sisters doing chores and playing on the family farm in Mercer County, Ohio. The Klosterman Family, deeply committed to their Catholic faith, nurtured Arlene’s faith and packed the family car when they regularly attended Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Montezuma, Ohio. Arlene’s vocation to religious life and natural generosity may have been influenced by her aunt, Sr. Therese Joseph Ranley, SFP, and also by the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor who came annually to beg the bounty of the Klosterman farm.
Arlene’s formal education began at Franklin Elementary School and continued at St. Clare Aspirancy in 1954 after convincing her parents to permit her to attend high school in Cincinnati, Ohio. On February 11, 1958, Arlene became a postulant, formally beginning preparation as a Franciscan Sister of the Poor. She completed her secondary education and received her diploma from Our Lady of the Angels High School later that year. Upon receiving the habit, Arlene, the new novice, became known as Sr. Maria Benedicta. She made her temporary profession on August 25, 1960. During her Juniorate, Sr. Maria attended St. Elizabeth Hospital School of Nursing in Dayton, Ohio, passing the registered nurse exam in 1964. She continued studies at the University of Dayton, earning a BS in nursing in 1965. On August 25, 1965, Sr. Maria was one of ten Sisters who made their perpetual profession of vows in the St. Clare Convent Chapel.
Sr. Maria continued in nursing ministry at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Dayton, and also studied and received certification as an elementary religious education teacher for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Sr. Maria was assigned to St. Margaret Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas, as assistant head nurse in the operating room. While there, she became interested in cardiac care as she continued in nursing ministry in hospitals sponsored by the Congregation, including St. Elizabeth Hospital, Covington, and Providence Hospital, Cincinnati. In 1987 she earned a MSN from the University of Cincinnati with a focus in gerontology.

Always enthusiastic and adventurous in participating in new ministries, Sr. Maria spent four years as the Congregation’s Vocation Director, interviewing and guiding women who were discerning their call to religious life. Sr. Maria pursued an attraction to contemplative living as a member of Resurrection House of Prayer. She also explored new forms of community living as a member of a small group living in a changing neighborhood in Dayton, joining other Sisters exploring a simple lifestyle on Straight Street in Cincinnati, and participating in an intentional community at St. Francis Convent located in a low-income area of Cincinnati. In 1989 Sr. Maria partnered with Brother Robert (Bob) Reinke, CFP, as a case manager for persons with AIDS at F+A+I+T+H Services in Hoboken, New Jersey. After election as a Congregational Counselor, Sr. Maria continued the AIDS ministry she had come to love—her unique way of following Saints Francis and Clare and the charism of Mother Frances Schervier. One of Sr. Maria’s most treasured experiences was participation in an Assisi Pilgrimage that enhanced her commitment to Franciscan spirituality.
After completing her term as Counselor, Sr. Maria worked as pastoral associate at Assumption Parish in Brooklyn, where she visited parishioners at home, especially those unable to attend Mass. Upon returning to Cincinnati, Sr. Maria volunteered at St. Francis Seraph Parish in the city’s historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.
Music always played a joyous and important role in Sr. Maria’s life, and she learned to play organ from Sr. Loretta Mick, SFP, and later guitar as it became the preferred instrument of younger Catholics. A talented singer, Sr. Maria represented the Congregation on the first recording of liturgical music by the St. Louis Jesuits.
In her last months, Sr. Maria could often be found folding laundry, organizing cabinets, or washing dishes—tasks that proved her strong desire to serve others and lend a helping hand. And too she spent much time in St. Clare Chapel, quietly and completely engrossed in prayer, with a special devotion to the Stations of the Cross.

Sr. Maria, you have led a Franciscan life of simplicity and you challenge all of us to be ever true to a life of goodness and gentleness, looking for the best in the other. As you leave us, we know that God embraces you with the words, “Welcome good and faithful servant.” We ask you to intercede for us as we continue our Franciscan journey.

Sr. Mary Arleen Bourquin, SFP

Published: April 13, 2015