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In Memory of Sister Conrad Kirchhoff, PHJC

Wednesday, 18 March 2020 11:17

Sister Conrad Kirchhoff (Margaret), PHJC passed away on March 15, 2020 at the Catherine Kasper Home in Donaldson, Indiana.

Sister Conrad was born in Detroit, Michigan to John Henry and Wilhelmine (Schmitt) Kirchhofff who preceded her in death along with her brothers Francis, John and Edward and her sister, Mary Belisle. She entered the Poor Handmaid of Jesus Christ Community as a postulant on December 13, 1943. She professed her first vows on June 25, 1946 and celebrated 70 years as a Poor Handmaid Sister in 2016. Sister Conrad graduated from Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois in 1962 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Theology and received her Masters of Science in Education from St. Francis College in Ft. Wayne, Indiana in 1965.

From 1945 until 1969 Sister was a teacher and principal in Chicago (St. Henry School), Fort Wayne, Indiana (St. Vincent Villa) and Belleville, Illinois (St. Mary School). From 1969-1973 she ministered as the PHJC Director of novices. She insisted her ministry working with young women of the 60’s and 70’s gave her the best life experience. Sister Conrad was elected Provincial of the Poor Handmaid’s American Province in 1973 and served until 1979. She returned to teaching in 1979 in Mishawaka, Indiana (St. Joseph School). She continued Leadership in the Poor Handmaid Community as a General Councilor in Dernbach, Germany from 1983-1989. After a short sabbatical, Sister became the Vice President of Mission Effectiveness at St. Joseph Medical Center in Fort Wayne (1990-2003) where she commented that she was the learner even if she was the one in charge. Upon her departure from St. Joseph Hospital Director of Nursing commented, “Sister Conrad always says that we are the heart and the hands, and the hug of the healing Christ. Sr. Conrad embodies that philosophy every day!” Having completed her ministry at St. Joseph Medical Center, she returned to the Motherhouse of the Poor Handmaids in Donaldson to do volunteer work. She quipped she was a great paper shredder. In 2006 she joined the community at Catherine’s Cottage continuing to help out where she could. Sister Conrad officially retired to the Catherine Kasper Home in 2015.

Sister Conrad reflected, “As I look back over the years as a Poor Handmaid of Jesus Christ, I feel a deep sense of gratitude to God, my family and the Poor Handmaid congregation for providing the opportunities to minister in teaching, childcare, leadership, retreat work, etc. They called forth gifts I never realized I had. I’ve had the opportunity to find God in many people, countries, cultures and challenges.”

In 1999 Sister Conrad received the Raymond Rosenberger - Minette Baum Award Foundation. This award recognizes people for their diligent and faithful service with an exempt charitable organization(s) to alleviate human suffering or enhance the quality of life of persons afflicted with illness or injury, or to promote wellness through the prevention of illness, disease or injury.

In 2013, Sister Conrad also received the Healthy City Award for her part in starting the Super Shot Immunization program in Fort Wayne. This program provides low-cost or free immunizations to poor children and adults in Allen County.

A private visitation will be held at the Ancilla Domini Chapel Friday, March 20 from 9:30 to 11 a.m. EDT. The Funeral Liturgy will follow in the Chapel at 11:00 a.m. EDT and burial will follow the Liturgy in Mt. Carmel Cemetery, Donaldson, IN. A public Memorial Service will be held at a later date.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, PO Box 1, Donaldson, Indiana 46513 or online at

The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ are excited to welcome the public back...

What a beautiful day – of encounters today.

by Sr. Connie Bach, PHJC

Dear friends,

It’s Advent – a time of JOYOUS HOPE and waiting.  And I’m ready to begin my Christmas letters, where of course, 

In Memory of Sister Kate Kuenstler, PHJC

Tuesday, 12 November 2019 10:46

Sister Mary Kathleen Kuenstler (Sister Kate) Poor Handmaid of Jesus Christ (PHJC), died on October 28, 2019 at the Catherine Kasper Home, Donaldson, Indiana. 
Sister was born in St. Louis, Missouri on January 21, 1949 and she was adopted by Lawrence Kuenstler and Lorraine (Buerster) Kuenstler who preceded her in death. Her siblings include her brother, Matthew (Deb) and her sister, Agnes Schoultz.
Sister Kate’s interest in the Poor Handmaid Community began as a farm girl in Illinois at the Holy Cross Parish, where she was introduced to the Poor Handmaids’ charism by her teachers. Sister Kate entered the Poor Handmaids August 25, 1967 and professed her vows on August 5, 1970. 
She received her B.S. in Education from St. Joseph College in East Chicago, Indiana, and began her first ministry in education as an elementary teacher for almost ten years at schools in Indiana and Minnesota. Sister Kate went on to receive her M.A. degree in Religious Education and ministered as a Director of Education and a Diocesan Consultant in the Springfield, Illinois diocese and Belleville, Illinois diocese. 
Sister Kate pursued Canon Law and in 1992 she received her J.C.L. (Licentiate in Canon Law) and her J.C.D. (Doctorate in Canon Law) from St. Thomas Aquinas Pontifical University, Rome, Italy.
Her career in Canon Law ministry began as a Judge in Marriage Tribunal. Later, she initiated her own private practice as an independent Canon Lawyer specifically focused on being an Advocate for the Laity. Sister Kate’s practice covered many states and countries, including Canada and Australia.
“Sister Kate was a tireless defender of the canonical rights of lay people in the Church, especially the rights of parishioners. Her creative advocacy changed Vatican policy from automatically accepting US bishops’ decisions to close and sell vibrant churches to one that preserves churches as worship sites instead,” said Sister Chris Schenk, CSJ, cofounder of Future Church.
Following an unexpected illness, Sister Kate moved to Catherine’s Cottage in January 2019 and then to the Catherine Kasper Home in May 2019.
Visitation will be held at the Catherine Kasper Home at The Center at Donaldson on Friday, November 1, 2019 beginning at 4:30 p.m. (EDT). A Prayer Service will be held the same evening 7:00 p.m.
Funeral Liturgy will be held in the Catherine Kasper Home Chapel at 10:00 a.m. (EDT). Burial will follow in the Mt. Carmel Cemetery, at The Center at Donaldson.
Memorial contributions can be made to the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, PO Box 1, Donaldson, Indiana 46513 or online at

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