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Sister Joanna Rettenmeier, BVM

Sister Joanna Rettenmeier, BVM, 89, died Tuesday, April 18, 2023, at Mount Carmel Bluffs in Dubuque, Iowa.

Visitation, the Sharing of Memories and Mass of Christian Burial were on Tuesday, April 25, 2023. Burial was in the Mount Carmel cemetery.

Sister Joanna was born on July 25, 1933, in Dubuque, Iowa, to John and Viola (Dolan) Rettenmeier. She entered the BVM congregation on Sept. 8, 1951, from the Cathedral of St Raphael Parish, Dubuque, Iowa. She professed first vows on March 19, 1954, and final vows on July 16, 1959.

Sister Joanna was an elementary teacher at St. Patrick in Cedar Falls, Iowa; Corpus Christi and Sacred Heart in Fort Dodge, Iowa; Blessed Sacrament and Holy Cross in Chicago; St. George in Seattle; and St. Augustine and St. Thomas in Memphis, Tenn. She also served as principal at St. Thomas in Memphis. She worked in a collaborative ministry sponsored by women religious to address child poverty and elderly isolation in southern Iowa. She served the BVM congregation as administrative assistant to the congregational secretary.

“Joanna was a simple, gentle, kind, and understanding person. She could perceive the needs of others and responded generously with her support and assistance. Joanna was a person close to God, faithful and faith-filled. . . [She] never wavered from her youthful desire to love, serve, and dedicate her life to Christ.” (Eulogy).

She was preceded in death by her parents and siblings Peggy (Clifford) Rice, Tom Rettenmeier, and Jim (Judy) Rettenmeier. She is survived by a brother Bill (Kathy) Rettenmeier, sister-in-law Mary Rettenmeier, nieces, nephews, and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 71 years.

Memorials may be given to Sisters of Charity, BVM, 1100 Carmel Drive, Dubuque, IA 52003 or online at

Download Eulogy

Download Sharing of Memories

This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. My first position working for the BVMs was assisting in the Secretary’s office with Sister Joanna. She was very patient and kind teaching me about the BVM Community and the sisters. Although I moved to a different office, Sister Joanna remained a good friend.
    I’ll always remember her and keep her in my prayers. Peace.

  2. Sister Joanna taught with me at Sacred Heart in Fort Dodge. This was my first job, and she was a tremendous woman of faith, I learned a lot from her. I feel blessed to have known her.

  3. I had Sister Joanna as a teacher at St. Edmonds in Fort Dodge many years ago. I remember her as a kind lady who always had time for her students. She was one of several BVMs at the school who had dedicated their lives in the service of the school and students. She will be sorely missed here on this earth by all her students, but heaven will be the classroom she always wanted to teach in. Thoughts and prayers for Sister and her family.

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