Sr. Alice Hein, CSJ

Sr. Alice Hein, CSJ

Sr. Alice was probably about the most honest person you could talk to. She tried to be polite and show that she was interested in being with you….at the same time, she did not hesitate to ask you what is this all about? When the community asked her to let them record her as she spoke about herself, she said, “What for? Who cares…who will ever listen to these tapes?” Sr. Georgia Walker told her that the tapes would be transcribed and that years from then other sisters would like to know who Sr. Alice Hein is/was.

Alice said, “Nobody will be interested…there is nothing unusual about me or my life. But if you want to continue…OK”. So here we are , this morning and I will share what she was willing to tell about herself!

Sr. Alice Hein was born on June 13, 1921 in Unity, Wisconsin and baptized at St. Mary’s Church in Colby six days later. She, Alice Gertrude was the oldest of seven children born to John and Martha Powers Hein. She said that her place of birth was more a small village than a town and that they had to travel to Colby, four miles away for church. She was proud to point out that that was where Colby cheese was made. After some years, KRAFT bought out the farmer’s processing plant and since the name of his cheese was so popular, they kept the name of the cheese as being Colby.

There was no Catholic school close enough for the Hein children to attend. They did attend catechism classes 2-3 times a week especially when it was time for one of them to receive first Confession and first Holy Communion. They were a good Catholic family. One cousin was a Franciscan sister and when Alice thought she might have a vocation, it was suggested that she join that community because it was close to home.

Alice met the Sisters of St. Joseph at the Academy in Green Bay. She became a border there because the distance was too great to travel back and forth daily. Her family could not afford to send her but she had an uncle who paid for her education saying that since he could not send his daughter there, he wanted to provide Alice with that good education.

She said she had been inspired by the life and work of the Sisters at the Academy and then decided to join the community after graduation. She, Mary Rocheleau and Mrs. Rocheleau met up together and took the train to St. Louis arriving at Carondelet on Sept. 15, 1941.

Although she was older than others in her reception, she said she soon learned that it was most important that she just trust God. So when there were times that were difficult or things asked of her that didn’t seem to make sense, she just said to herself….” well this is what God must want me to do.” And so she did whatever happily.

She received the habit and name Sr. John Chrysostom on March 19, 1942.

Her name was a mouthful but at least she was named after her loving father. She was very happy when she was sent to work with the Menominee Indians in Keshena, Wisconsin. That was about 60 miles from Green Bay and it allowed her the possibility of seeing more of her family. She loved teaching 4th grade and said that being with the Indian children was a 24/7 kind of ministry. The sisters taught all day; fed and bathed the children; helped them with homework and put them to bed. If someone got sick during the night, Sister sat up with them. It was tedious and hard work but the sisters loved being “family” for their students. The sisters realized that these children missed their families and friends as much as they did. So they tried to create a loving, secure home for the children.

She remained there ten years, a “mission very dear to my heart” she said. From Keshena, she moved here to St. Louis, Holy Name School where she taught intermediate grades from 1953-1958. She spent the next two years teaching at St. Anthony of Padua grade school here in St. Louis. Leadership determined that S. Alice was both a gifted teacher and a sister who could help others. She was always so kind and pleasant.

They asked her to consider going to St. Rita School here in St. Louis and to be both the Administrator and teacher. She accepted and found herself doing both jobs for two years there at St. Rita’s and the next year at Immaculate Conception School in Hannibal, Missouri. Sr. Alice was an excellent teacher and administrator. The pastors and teachers she worked with over the years commented that they appreciated her quiet, firm leadership and her devotion to school and parish work. Sister said she loved her 47 years as an elementary school teacher where she served schools in St. Louis, Hannibal, O’Fallon, St. Joseph and Kansas City…she was in Kansas City for thirty years. She decided in 1991 at the age of 70 that it was time to retire before too many of the children began to call her “grandma”. She moved here to Nazareth in 2001 where she said she “expected to spend the rest of her days”.

The following year, 2002 she celebrated her 60th anniversary as a CSJ and she loved having her family and friends celebrate with her and be able to see what a wonderful place Nazareth was. She tried to take care of herself as long as she could and did a great job until she began to lose her eyesight. This was a real cross for her because she had always been an avid reader. She appreciated Janet Vise for getting books on tapes for her.

Now after 75 years as a dedicated Sister of St. Joseph, S. Alice has responded to her last invitation from God …this time to join Him for all eternity. Thank you, Alice, for your life of service.

May she rest in God’s ever-loving arms…AMEN!


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

October 31, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph