Frances Ann Schaeffer, BVM (Louis)

Frances Ann Schaeffer, BVM (Louis), 84, died Monday, Dec. 26, 2016, at the Mount Carmel Motherhouse in Dubuque, Iowa.

A private Rite of Committal and Natural Burial will be held Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016. There will be no visitation. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery. A sharing of memories will be held at 10:45 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, followed by a funeral liturgy.

She was born in Davenport on Sept. 25, 1932, to Louis Charles and Frieda (Karstens) Schaeffer. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1956, from St. Paul Parish, Davenport, Iowa. She professed first vows on Feb. 3, 1959, and final vows on July 16, 1964.

Frances Ann worked in the sewing room at the Mount Carmel Motherhouse. She taught elementary school in Davenport and Iowa City, Iowa; and Chattanooga, Tenn., where she was also Montessori Kindergarten teacher and director. She was student and teacher-aide, and teacher intern in Kansas City, Mo. She volunteered for the Edmundite Missions in Alabama.

She is preceded in death by her parents; brothers Louis Albert and Robert Anthony; and sisters Catherine Mary Schmidt and Margaret Alice Schaeffer. She is survived by nieces, nephews and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 60 years.

Sister Frances Ann Schaeffer, BVM (Louis)
Memorial Mass Welcome
Marian Hall, Jan. 4, 2017

Good morning and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Frances Ann Schaeffer.

Frances Ann Schaeffer was born on Sept. 25, 1932, the youngest child of Louis Charles and Frieda Karstens Schaeffer of Davenport, Iowa. She had two brothers, Louis Albert and Robert Anthony, and two sisters, Catherine Mary and Margaret Alice. Unfortunately, Robert Anthony and Margaret Alice died before Frances Ann was born.

Her mother, who was born in Schleswig, Germany, converted to Catholicism, attended daily Mass and shared her faith and love of God with her children. About her father, a Davenport native, Frances Ann wrote, “My father’s formal schooling was limited to grade school at Sacred Heart, Davenport, Iowa, where the BVMs prepared him well for his life. Not only was he a man of deep faith and convictions but he had much practical knowhow as well.”

Frances Ann attended St. Paul the Apostle grade school and was inspired into service by her third grade teacher S.M. Brigetta McNamara. Along with her classmate, Sister Mary M. O’Connor (Bertille), she prepared breakfast for Catholic children from a nearby orphanage who attended Mass at St. Paul. Because of the Communion fast required at that time, without that breakfast the children would have gone hungry until the noon meal. Her concern for other people, especially the poor, only deepened through the years. After recuperating from a double knee replacement in 2004, she moved to Selma, Ala., to volunteer with the Edmundite Missions that served people living in poverty in rural areas.

While a student at Immaculate Conception Academy, Frances Ann was lovingly encouraged by S.M. Helen Therese Kiley to considered religious life with the BVMs. However, following her mother’s advice to wait, Frances Ann worked six years at Mercy Hospital and the West Davenport Clinic which, in her words, “gave me the needed maturity to make the decision.” She entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1956, and received the name Louis upon her reception on March 19, 1957. She professed her first vows on Feb. 3, 1959, and lived 60 years as a BVM.

As a novice, Frances Ann was assigned to the sewing room, where she proved to be a talented seamstress. She was sent to the Scholasticate in Chicago to study after her profession, only to be called back to the Motherhouse a few months later to help sew habits for an exceptionally large set about to make vows. “Living and working at Mount Carmel for the next three years brought many spiritual insights and blessings,” commented Frances Ann. For the rest of her life, she generously shared this marvelous gift by repairing clothing and responding to special sewing requests.

Frances Ann began her ministry in education in 1964, teaching first grade at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Chattanooga, Tenn. Missions at St. Patrick and St. Mary in Iowa City, Iowa; and St. Paul in Davenport followed. After completing a teaching internship at Bishop Helmsing Early Childhood Center in Kansas City, Mo., she taught Montessori kindergarten in Chattanooga, Tenn., for seven years and then served as its director for an additional 13 years. With her gentleness and patience, she was absolutely wonderful with the little ones.

Frances Ann remained active after moving to Mount Carmel, joining committees and participating in numerous activities. As a distributor of the “Mall in the Hall,” she made sure clothes were washed and repaired before making them available. She also volunteered at the BVM Center receptionist desk. As a dedicated member of the Schola, she sang for the crib blessing and Christmas Eve Mass just two days before her death.

Frances Ann touched the hearts of many because of her true goodness. “The kindest woman I ever met,” declared one set member. She preferred to do her acts of kindness quietly behind the scenes. A friend commented, “Nobody except God knows everything she did.” Probably every woman here has received a Frances Ann greeting: “Hello, pretty lady!” Her address was so natural and genuine that each recipient felt like the only beautiful one. Everyone was the object of her affection—a true characteristic of a loving person who lived a centered and deeply spiritual life.

Almost four years ago, Frances Ann faced cancer with incredible courage, determination, grit and trust in both her doctor and God. After a grueling course of chemotherapy, she wrote, “My deepest gratitude to each and every one of you who have prayed for me . . . Please know that every prayer, card, visit, phone call, and message is very much treasured . . . Every moment of life means so much more than I could ever have imagined. Every breath becomes a prayer of gratitude.”

In the first reading from Isaiah we hear: “Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! . . . Let us rejoice and be glad that God has saved us!” Frances Ann did rejoice and emerged from the ordeal even more cheerful, thoughtful and generous. She was not only healed, but she healed others with her graciousness and love.

When her set celebrated 60 years in September, Frances Ann surprised each member with a beautiful card containing a promise: On the set member’s birthday, Frances Ann would remember her at Mass and make a holy hour of Adoration for her intentions. Surely death will not stop Frances Ann from keeping that promise.

Upon learning of her death, as a sign of deep respect and pure love, her set members and the residents on her floor immediately gathered outside her room and sang “Jesus Light of All the World.” Frances Ann was a light, her heart a holy place, her life grace-filled.

Frances Ann, thank you being a blessing to all of us. You are and will continue to be greatly missed. Rest in peace, pretty lady.

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