Lantern Keepers Associate Group
In 1999, a team of sisters (Sisters René Laubenthal, Annette Skyles, Michelle Gallagher and Ruth Marie Holtzbauer) asked a number of people from Algona, Iowa, and the surrounding communities to join them in establishing a Presentation associate group. A group of 12 began the orientation process and made their commitment as associates in 2000. As Nano Nagle, the foundress of the Sisters of the Presentation, walked the streets of Cork over 200 years ago, the sisters and associates from Algona joined in the mission to witness to love by their many activities for others.
The group continues to meet once a month (September through April) under the leadership of Associates Karen St. John and Pat Albrecht at the Algona Public Library. Some of the group members help with the leadership of meetings also. Each May, they meet at Associate Pat Baumann's home for a potluck and wrap-up meeting for another year.
Every year, the Lantern Keepers try to do a larger project. In the past, they have donated to food pantries in Kossuth, Palo Alto, Spencer and Humboldt counties; the Family Crisis Center of North Iowa; various Presentation missions and adopted a family at Christmastime. They also do what they can individually in helping others.
The following associates shared their stories about what being an associate means to them as they continue to walk in Nano Nagle's footsteps:
- Karen St. John became an associate of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Cloud a number of years ago. "When the Sisters of the Presentation started an associate program, I joined them as it is closer for me to attend programs. I also have a sister, Sister Julia Wingert, and an aunt, Sister Catherine Wingert, in the congregation. I enjoy being an associate and carrying out Nano's works. I like to do for other people: giving rides, listening or whatever they may need. I will continue to walk in Nano's footsteps for as long as I can," states Karen.
- Mary Jane Besch comments, "I really appreciated all the Presentation sisters have done to teach and stretch the talents of my children when they were in school. Their presence in our parish was a gift to me, personally, and to our parish and community. I had always wanted to go to "sister school." My one experience in Bancroft only lasted two months when my dad became ill and had to quit his job. I was in seventh grade then. I want to be more faithful to my commitment as an associate and to the Presentation sisters."
- Pat Baumann shares, "I have always had a lot of love and admiration for the Presentation sisters. When I was asked to join the Presentation associates, it was a real pleasure for me to say 'yes.' It has enriched my prayer time and I try to reach out to others whenever I can."
- For Rita Plathe, "It is a joy to be an associate and join in the Presentation mission, a deepening prayer life, faith sharing and prayer meetings. We can do small things to share with one another and can do something good with the help of many. We need to help in our small way to further the Presentation mission."
- Joan Montag states, "Becoming an associate gives me the opportunity to feel at home with friends who like myself are seeking to grow in spirituality. It encourages me to seek times to help others in the tradition of Nano Nagle." Her husband, Raphael, was also an associate prior to his death in 2004. Joan has a sister in the congregation, Sister René Laubenthal.
- Hazel Wagner is so happy for this opportunity to again become a part of this wonderful, caring community. She states, "I have renewed my associate position with the Sisters of the Presentation for five years. It is good to help carry on the hospitality, vision and ministry of Nano by helping others in need. I wish to share the gifts and talents God has given me so that by my example others may experience God's goodness and love."
- Zelma Sholly thanks Sisters René Laubenthal and Annette Skyles for her becoming an associate. She shares, "I try to do things for others as Nano Nagle did during her life. I make pies, cakes and breads and share them with all those in my apartment circle. I have a neighbor who is bipolar and needs someone to talk to. I can get him calmed down and help him solve his problems. I also visit a couple of friends who are ill."
- Pat Albrecht directs a thank you to Sister Janice Hancock for sending her information several years ago regarding Presentation Association and the sisters who guided their group through the formation process. "The fact that I am an associate allows me to attend meetings with people who share my faith and I enjoy helping those in need, hoping to make a difference in their day. As I've grown older, I realize how being kind to others is an important part of our faith. As I carry Nano's lantern on the journey through life, I feel it lights my path and allows me to see God more clearly. I'm truly grateful for the other associates and sisters I have met. We're all making this trip together and coming closer to our Lord with each step we take," states Pat.
- Ruth Ludwig shares, "What an honor and privilege it is for me to be a part of the Presentation Associate Partnership. I've always had great respect for the religious life. Like Nano Nagle and the sisters, I, too, can continue to walk in their footsteps to help make this a better world."
- Carol Schmidt and Rosie Metzger shared that they too enjoy being Presentation associates and are eager to attend the group meetings to share ideas, do good deeds and pray together.
It is very evident that the Lantern Keepers are following in the footsteps of Nano Nagle. Nano stated that it is "Not words, but deeds." This group of associates are doing many good deeds as they grow in holiness by "walking in the light of Nano."
Left to right: front row: Mary Jane Besch, Rita Plathe, Joan Montag. Back row: Karen St. John, Hazel Wagner, Ruth Ludwig, Patricia Baumann, Carol Schmidt, Pat Albrecht and Zelma Sholly. Not pictured are Paulette Besch, Virginia Fuschen (now deceased), Rosie Metzger, Donna Muller and Chuck Schmidt