December 2011: SISTER FRAN WINKLER (entered eternal life on April 23, 2015)
This month, we share the story of Sister Fran Winkler whose expressions of care for others have beautifully illustrated our Franciscan charism.
Helen Frances Winkler was born on November 3, 1927, in Trenton, IL, to Raymond and Anna (Cope) Winkler. She graduated from St. Mary’s Grade School, Trenton, and when it came time for high school, she made a decision that would take her away from home at a young age.
A helping hand
The Winklers were long-time friends of the family of Sister Joyce Gerardi, a Hospital Sister of St. Francis. After Sister Fran made a visit to the Motherhouse, Sister Joyce reassured Raymond and Anna that the convent Prep School would provide a good education, religious instruction, and mentoring - all amid the beautiful and inspirational Motherhouse grounds.
And so in 1941, Fran left home and began her education with other young girls in her class who were enrolled in the St. Francis Preparatory School. Through the combination of the Hospital Sisters’ example and the spiritual awareness of becoming a Sister, Fran officially entered the convent on March 31, 1943, at the age of 15. She professed First Vows on October 4, 1945.
Education and service
She is a graduate of St. John’s Hospital School of Nursing and St. John’s Hospital School of Radiologic Technology. Primarily, she has served her community as an x-ray supervisor and technician. In addition, she had responsibilities in home nursing, switchboard, and volunteer service. In August 1992, she became one of the first volunteers at the newly-formed St. Martin de Porres Center, Springfield - an organization that provides food, clothing and household items to the less fortunate.
Sister Fran has a great sense for details. For the past few years, she was very active in sewing baby shirts, bonnets, and diapers as well as dresses in youth an adult sizes that were sent to Haiti. She also sewed quilts and pillows for organizations in Springfield. And she is blessed with an artistic ability as demonstrated through water color and oil paint.
Ever aware of putting someone else’s need or comfort first, Sister Fran’s example is one of compassion and love. She continues to radiate her beautiful smile to those she meets.