- Barbara Misner, S.C.S.C. (1931–2013)
Sister Barbara Misner, Sister of Mercy of the Holy Cross, died on June 28, 2013, at Bell Tower Residence in Merrill, Wisconsin, at the age of eighty-two. She was born on April 13, 1931, in Jackson, Michigan; her parents were the late Francis de Sales Misner and Madge (Mee) Misner. She entered the Holy Cross Convent in Merrill on August 2, 1948, and celebrated her First Profession on August 24, [End Page 194] 1950, taking the name Sister Francis de Sales Misner, S.C.S.C. She attended Alverno College in Milwaukee and earned an MA degree from Xavier University in Cincinnati, with a thesis on the economic theories of Friedrich List in early-nineteenth-century Germany (1967). Her dissertation for the PhD degree from The Catholic University of America (1981) was “A Comparative Social Study of the Members and Apostolates of the First Eight Permanent Communities of Women Religious within the Original Boundaries of the United States, 1790–1850,” published as Highly Respectable and Accomplished Ladies: Catholic Women Religious in America, 1790–1850 (New York, 1988).
Her decades of ministry included elementary school teaching in Antigo and Mercer, Wisconsin; Deer Park, Ohio; and Haymarsh, North Dakota. She also taught at the Menard Junior College in Merrill. As she recounted in the preface to the first of two slim volumes on the history of her congregation, The Living Love of Christ among Us (Merrill, WI, 1998–99), she was attracted by the international missionary scope of the community. When she accepted the assignment to assist with the work on a new constitution at the motherhouse in Ingenbohl, Switzerland, in 1969–70, the need of a modern history of the congregation’s work over the preceding century challenged her. This led to intense research in the Ingenbohl archives from 1989 to 1991, as well as sojourns to the Sisters’ establishments abroad, notably in India, to gather data and set up orderly archives.
Indeed, archival work was her basic continuing professional activity. She lent her talents in this capacity to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati; the Dioceses of La Crosse and Madison in Wisconsin; the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings in Montana; the School Sisters of St. Francis in Milwaukee; and St. Norbert Abbey in De Pere, Wisconsin. She was the founding archivist of the Holy Cross Sisters, USA Province, in Merrill. After she completed the first two parts of her history of the Holy Cross Sisters, she left material for more in the hands of her colleague, Sister Ann Wittman. Along the way she helped organize the Conference on the History of Women Religious in 1998.
Sister Barbara retired in 2006; in 2007, due to worsening dementia, she moved first to St. Joseph’s Convent in Campbellsport, Wisconsin, then to Bell Tower Residence in Merrill shortly before her death. Father James Baraniak, O. Praem., the prior of St. Norbert Abbey, officiated at her memorial Mass on Monday, July 1, 2013, in Holy Cross Chapel, Merrill. Burial took place in St. Francis Cemetery, Merrill, on July 13. Memorial contributions can be made to the Bell Tower Residence and sent to Holy Cross Sisters, 1400 O’Day Street, Merrill, WI 54452. [End Page 195]