Sister Lois Lehmann
A Presence of Christ
A familiar figure can be seen walking around the motherhouse grounds on almost any given day. While Sister Mary Lois Lehmann keeps her daily commitment to walking, she is also saying a rosary, praying for the needs of the world or enjoying the beauty of creation. “As long as I live, I will continue to walk ‘one pace beyond,’ with my Model T walker or my modern cane,” laughs Sister Lois with firm resolve.
In a 61-year journey of carrying Nano Nagle’s lantern in fulltime ministry, Sister Lois walked many steps to spread the Good News spending 43 years as an elementary teacher and 18 years as a pastoral minister. “Like Nano I traveled many roads to serve God’s people in 12 Catholic schools and parishes in Iowa, South Dakota and Illinois. Teaching gave me a love for each child; I rejoiced at each one’s progress.”
Recalling a day while teaching first grade in Algona, Iowa, Sister Lois remembers the pastor asking what the children were doing in religion. The answer was “telling stories about Jesus.” Joey volunteered his version of the wedding of Cana. “Jesus and his friends went to a wedding and Mary heard the guys talking. She said to Jesus, ‘They have no whiskey. Do something.’”
“In pastoral ministry I became involved in the local community,” states Sister. Using her abilities to initiate a conversation and help folks be comfortable, she would introduce herself and let people know she was there for them and interested in what each person was doing. “I joined the Dayton Senior Citizens and the Women’s Club and visited three care centers,” she says. “To offer hospitality was always my goal – in sorrows, pain and joys. I participated in their activities and even danced with some residents, much to their delight.”
While assisting with Catholic liturgical preparation, music, religious education and bereavement for grieving families at wakes and funerals among the Catholic parishes of Dayton, Odgen and Boone, Iowa, Sister Lois was recognized for outstanding involvement, service and her ecumenical presence. “I was ready to retire to Mount Loretto in 2008. In leisure time I play Triominoes, Rummikub, Racco and Euchre. I enjoy visiting with Nagle Center sisters, just being with sisters and entering into many activities, enjoying a more leisurely life,” she continues. “Walking is a special healthy pastime. My room displays many of
my art projects which I also like to share with family and friends.”
Well known as a conversationalist and storyteller, at the same time Sister Lois has found a challenge within retirement ministry. “I still long to go out daily to visit the elderly and lonely in the parishes and be a care review advocate for residents in care centers. I miss visiting people in their homes to share some of my treats or garden products. Realizing my limitations, however, I know that living the life of this community is exactly the place I need to be now.” Sister adds, “To be faithful to daily prayer and able to spend extra time in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament gives me strength to continue my journey with the Lord.”
Sister Lois truly feels that she is making a difference for others at this time in her life. “Although my ministry is more limited, I am still able to encourage, affirm and be an example of faithfulness to prayer and to my vocation as a follower of Nano and keep her lantern burning brightly,” she states. “And I know that I continue sharing Nano’s charism.”
Travel with friends, family and community has been part of Sister Lois’s experiences. Over the years she has visited Bolivia; Guatemala; Mexico City; Lima, Peru; the Holy Land; Rome and Assisi, Italy; Germany; France and Ireland.
Sister Lois’s hobbies include playing the guitar, doing puzzles, playing cards and exploring her gifts in art class. “A special interest is keeping the family history up-to-date with many new members each year,” she shares. “I now have 78 grandnieces and nephews and 53 great grandnieces and nephews – with more on the way.”
Reflecting on her life at 90 years, she says, “I am grateful for my faith, family and Presentation community. I have a deep gratitude for the many people with whom I journeyed over the years. I pray that I helped spread the Gospel message by sowing seeds of love, joy, hospitality, generosity and peace.”
Sister Lois is happily engaged in community prayer and service with a deep appreciation that she has been able to walk with others. “I was able to be a visible presence of Christ and the Church, to bring the consolation of prayer to the dying and to minister to people of all faiths,” she states as she continues walking her journey.