Women Religious in the diocese gathered with Bishop Thomas in the Brondel Center at the Cathedral of St. Helena on Sept. 11. After a luncheon and Midday Prayer, the group took time to honor Jubilarians, or Sisters celebrating over 25 years of religious life and service. Celebrating 60 years are Sr. Mary Agnes Hogan, SCL, and Sr. Dorothy Jean (DD) Casey, SCL, while Sr. Gretchen Wagner, CSJ, celebrates 40.
Originally from Anaconda, Sr. Mary Agnes Hogan, SCL, began teaching elementary school in 1959 in Chicago immediately after college. Work in education took her to Oklahoma and Kansas before she transitioned to Parish Ministry in 1969 and served in Nebraska and Missouri. After earning a certification in Clinical Pastoral Education, Sr. Hogan, then moved closer to home as Staff Chaplain at St. James Healthcare in Butte. After that, she headed up the Pastoral Care Program and Social Concerns ministries at St. Mary Catholic Community in Helena.
Following a sabbatical, she returned to St. James in Butte to direct the Spiritual Care Dept. as well as Mission Services until 2011. Prior to retiring in 2015, Sr. Hogan served as the Highland Hospice Chaplain. In retirement Sr. Hogan is active serving the homeless in Butte, saying, “Reaching out to the homeless is a new step for me, but it’s place I needed to go.”
Of her service, she said, “I am always grateful for the gift of my Baptism and God’s call to ministry in the context of religious life. I’m very blessed to have been a Sister of Charity of Leavenworth for 60 years. 35 of those years have been spent doing ministry in the diocese that I love, the Diocese of Helena.”
Born and raised in East Helena and one of 11 children, Sr. Dorothy Jean Casey, SCL,
entered religious life after high school and attended St. Mary College in Leavenworth, Kans. Like many Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, she began as a teacher, teaching first grade for many years. She earned her Master’s in Spirituality from Seattle University, and began working at the parish level in Pastoral Ministry and Religious Education/Formation. She had a special passion for the Right of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA). After taking time to care for her parents in their final days, Sr. Casey returned to service as Mission Director for St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings, Holy Rosary Healthcare in Miles City and St. James Healthcare in Butte. With her residence in Billings, Sr. Hogan spent time between the three locations and retired for health reasons in 2008. She lives in Helena with her biological sister, Sr. Donna Lynn Casey, SCL.
Sr. Gretchen Wagner, CSJ, entered the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1977. “It all began at a pool table,” Sr. Wagner joked, “he asked me if I would marry him and I said no, I’m going in the convent.” Originally from Green Bay, Wis., Sr. Wagner holds Master’s Degrees in Secondary Education Administration from St. Mary’s University in Winona, Min. and in Pastoral Studies from the Aquinas Institute in St. Louis, Mo. Like the other Jubilarians, she began as a teacher, teaching Music and Religion. She also worked as a high school, and then grade school principal in Missouri. Sr. Wagner transitioned to assisted living and nursing care with 14 years at Nazareth Living Center.
Following her time there she began looking for a new assignment and settled on St. Margaret Parish in Cut Bank. Her work as pastoral assistant at St. Margaret continues with responsibility to St. William Parish in Shelby, St. Francis in Valier and St. Thomas Aquinas Mission in Sunburst. Her duties run the gamut from RCIA and Religious Formation to Bible Studies and sharing groups. Sr. Wagner travels an average 26,000 miles each year between locations and enjoys each community. “What I love about them is that each parish is so different, I love the rural areas.” She takes opportunities to enjoy fishing and photography when she can, and is enjoying her work, “I just love the diocese, and we have the best Bishop. The people are lucky to have him.”
The Sisters also took time to say a grateful farewell to the following Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth who are returning to the Mother House in Kansas: Sr. Marie Michael Mollis, Sr. Joy Duff, Sr. Paula Marie Tweet, Sr. Patricia Canty and Sr. Edna Hunthausen.