Franciscan Sister Serves Those Suffering from Disabilities

Sister JulieAnn Sheahan

February 08, 2018

Franciscan Sister Adrianna Schouten, first Councilor to the Community Director on the General Administration, writes this reflection on the life of Sister Eugenia Vande Hey. Sister had a passion for those who lived with disabilities.

Rose Ann Vande Hey, the fifth of seven children, was born on June 5, 1929 to Peter and Odelia (Meulemans) Vande Hey in Hollandtown, Wisconsin. Rose Ann was baptized by Father John De Vries at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Hollandtown on June 8, 1929. The family lived on a small farm in Hollandtown and like many other families suffered great need during the depression. The Most Reverend Paul Rhode confirmed her on April 29, 1942.

Rose Ann attended St. Francis School in Hollandtown for 10 years. She was taught all those years by the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. She graduated in 1945.

With her parents’ consent and encouragement and with the assistance of Sister Thomas More and Sister Rosaire Hart, she entered Holy Family Convent on August, 17, 1945. At her reception on June 13, 1946, Rose Ann received the name Sister Eugenia. Sister Eugenia graduated from Holy Family Academy in 1948. She pronounced her first vows on June 14, 1947 and final vows on August 15, 1952.

Sister Eugenia attended Holy Family College and graduated in 1957 with a major in Education and a minor in English. She was an elementary school teacher in schools in the Diocese of Green Bay from 1948-1968.

Sister Eugenia was unable to continue teaching and in a reflection she wrote:

“Yet, the Lord had another plan. Poor health, pain and surgeries followed for the next span of years along with a permanent handicap. The way was dark and shadowed with the cross. At an early age it was necessary for me to give up the active ministry of teaching. The gift now given was clouded with loneliness, separation and questions. With spiritual assistance and encouragement I continued to walk the way not alone any longer but with Jesus…the “yes” of acceptance of God’s way changed the darkness and self-blindness to a brighter light which helped to direct my future days”

Sister Eugenia began work as a volunteer in the occupational health ministry at Holy Family Memorial. Later she worked in occupational therapy at St. Paul’s Home in Kaukauna and took classes at Fox Valley Technical School to earn her certification as an Occupational Therapy Assistant. Read more by clicking here: Franciscan Sister Eugenia Vande Hey Reflection


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