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Welcome New BVM Associates!

Welcome New BVM Associates!

Welcome to four people who have recently been accepted as BVM Associates.

Jeanette Barnes of Butte, Mont., became an associate after many years of contemplation. She had deep friendships with BVM Sisters Kathleen O’Sullivan, Pat Perko, and Liz Olsen, but knew that association would need to wait until she had retired.

Jeanette is a retired teacher, artist, activist, and devoted woman of prayer and service. She is currently working on a project that will incorporate Pope Francis’ words on the environment with her art using water media and calligraphy. When not creating art or tending her garden, Jeanette can be found quietly tending the hearts of the infirm and feeding the food insecure.

Mary Kay Craig, one of her discernment companions, shared this about Jeanette, “While she appreciates what folks like me do by being public in advocacy for peace, justice, and environmental causes, Jeanette is not one to carry protest signs in the 4th of July parade or have her face on the front page of the newspaper for her activism. Her ways are quiet and circumspect. She educates the most vulnerable, so they can get ahead, and she is kind to all she encounters, especially the marginalized and vulnerable. Jeanette volunteered at the Heart of Butte Community Café. She knows, as I do, that our mentor Kathleen O’Sullivan cared deeply for the less fortunate in our town. Jeanette is putting her whole self forward to help people who really need help.”


Kraig and Katie Pfiffner, of Dubuque, Iowa, have both been accepted as associates.

Kraig works as a funeral director with Goettsch Funeral Homes in Monticello, Iowa. He was born and raised in a family of seven children, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. His introduction to the BVMs came first from his mother’s cousin, Mary Ann Palumbo, BVM.

His request to become a discerner came with a desire to “give back and contribute to the community which provided the basics of faith and education.” Kraig also wanted to reconnect with a fondly remembered and deeply respected BVM, Helen Wolkerstorfer. They met when he attended LaSalle High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Kraig’s request to become a discerner came with a desire to “give back and contribute to the community which provided the basics of faith and education.”

Helen is his primary companion. She states, “From the beginning, Kraig spoke of his appreciation and admiration of his BVM teachers and his desire to remain connected with BVM the spirit, which translated during the classes to embracing the BVM Core Values and Charism.”

Katie was in Kraig’s discernment group, as he was in hers. She and Kraig have two adult children.

Katie is a pastoral minister at Mount Carmel in Dubuque, Iowa. She also leads workshops on mindfulness and is a yoga instructor.

Katie states, “I love that plumbing the depths of inner freedom is a lifelong adventure, and I think embracing both the gift and the challenge inherent in this is one way to further the charism; to keep exploring, questioning, reflecting and sharing the joy and the struggle it brings with this circle of friends and beyond helps to keep it alive.”

I love that plumbing the depths of inner freedom is a lifelong adventure, and I think embracing both the gift and the challenge inherent in this is one way to further the charism; to keep exploring, questioning, reflecting and sharing the joy and the struggle it brings with this circle of friends and beyond helps to keep it alive.”

Mary McCauley, BVM is her primary companion. Mary shares, “We can be grateful that God led her to Mount Carmel, that the charism of Mary Frances Clarke resonated within her, and that through the urgings of the Holy Spirit she and Kraig were prompted to request membership within our BVM Associate Community.”


Paula Schmidt, of Dubuque, Iowa, and her children have been monthly visitors and volunteers for the residents of the fourth floor at Marian Hall for years.

She and her husband, Daniel, have three children: Alaina, Avery, and Broderick. Paula has traveled to Quito, Ecuador with Sheila O’Brien, BVM to see the Working Boys Center.

Paula has worked at Clarke University for 17 years and is currently the dean for the college of professional and graduate studies.

Paula states, “I have chosen to become a BVM associate to take my already strong love of, and relationship with, the BVM sisters and the BVM charism to the next level.”

I have chosen to become a BVM associate to take my already strong love of, and relationship with, the BVM sisters and the BVM charism to the next level.”

Lynn Lester, BVM, Paula’s discernment companion, states, “Paula has applied BVM core values every day through interaction with faculty, staff, and students. I worked with her for 15 years as chair of the education department. These experiences affirm faithfully living the BVM charism. As an associate I believe she will be a strong influence in ‘spreading BVM Mission’ now and in the future, especially with so few BVMs currently employed at Clarke.”


Would you like to learn more about BVM Association? Visit: https://www.bvmsisters.org/get-involved/bvm-association/.

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