Four Sisters of St. Joseph to celebrate golden jubilees

Four Sisters of St. Joseph, including Sister Gracelyn Soignet of Mount St. Mary Convent in Wichita, will celebrate their golden jubilees of religious profession on Sunday, November 15 at St. Gabriel the Archangel Church in New Orleans, Louisiana. The four celebrating fifty years in religious life are Sisters Kathleen Bahlinger, Miriam Therese Mire, Julia Ann Sheatzley and Gracelyn Soignet. All entered the Sisters of St. Joseph in New Orleans in 1956 and made their first profession of vows in 1959.

Sister Gracelyn moved to Wichita to become nurse caregiver for the elderly sisters transferred to Mount St. Mary after being driven from Louisiana by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Sister Gracelyn is the daughter of the late Michael and Grace Soignet of New Orleans and sister of Donald Soignet of Metairie, Louisiana. She earned a B.A. degree in education and certification in special education at St. Mary’s Dominican College in New Orleans. She began her ministry as an elementary school teacher in parish schools in New Orleans and Baton Rouge and then served as a special education instructor for eight years at St. Agnes Vocational School in Baton Rouge. In 1980 she became a Licensed Practical Nurse and worked as a nurse and nursing administrator for 29 years. She served at Nazareth Inn Apartments for senior citizens and at St. Joseph Convent and in New Orleans.

The three other jubilarians all minister in south Louisiana.

Sister Kathleen (Julius) Bahlinger, one of eight children of the late J. Andrew and Mathilda F. Bahlinger of Baton Rouge, did all her studies in New Orleans. She holds a B.A. degree in mathematics from St. Mary’s Dominican College and an M.A.T. from Tulane University. She did further study in theology at Loyola University and the Black Catechetical Institute at Xavier University. Sister Kathleen has spent over 47 years in education in Louisiana. She began her career as a high school teacher and taught at St. Joseph’s Academy in New Orleans and Baton Rouge and at Catholic High Pointe Coupee in New Roads where she also served as administrator. In 1980 she began working in adult education at Hope House in a New Orleans housing project and was a founding educator of St. Paul’s Adult Learning Center in inner city Baton Rouge. After Hurricane Katrina, Sister Kathleen taught high school in the Orleans Parish (County) Public School System for two years and currently assists with adult education in the St. Vincent de Paul Adult Learning Center in New Orleans.

Sister Miriam Therese Mire is one of ten children of the late Andrew and Lucille Mire of New Orleans. She earned a education from St. Mary’s Dominican College. After three years as an elementary school teacher in New Orleans and Cincinnati, Ohio, Sister Miriam earned an R.N. from Mercy Hospital School of Nursing in New Orleans and began nursing at Terrebonne General Hospital in Houma, Louisiana. After 13 years as a nurse in the hospital setting, she studied clinical pastoral education at Baptist Hospital in New Orleans and became a home health nurse and parish home nurse on staff at St. Anthony Church in Bayou Black, La., where she continues to minister.

Sister Julia Ann (Maris Stella) Sheatzley is one of six children of the late Howard and Ruth Sheatzley of Cincinnati, Ohio. Sister Julia earned a B.A. in English from Our Lady of Cincinnati College in 1968 and did post graduate work in theology at the University of Notre Dame and at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. She was a teacher and an administrator at both the elementary and high school level in Cincinnati for 16 years. She then spent 17 years in ministry to the congregation as provincial of the Cincinnati Province, assistant superior general and congregation president of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Medaille. Since 1994 she has been engaged in pastoral ministry in the communities of Clinton, Jackson and Greensburg, La.