Two priests and three sisters raised in the St. Mary's parish or schools are missionaries, and we are very proud of them. Numerous parish efforts seek to support them, most notably the Mission Society, one of the oldest organizations in our parish. Sections below are taken from We Are Called: A History of St. Mary's Parish, Remsen, Iowa by Rick Roder. If you would like to contribute to their efforts, please contact the rectory (712-786-1437;
Father Richard Frank was the son of Mike and Emma (Klostermann) Frank, born in Remsen on August 21, 1927. He was a 1945 St. Mary’s graduate and attended Trinity and Loras Colleges and the St. Paul Seminary in Minnesota. He completed his work in theology with the Maryknoll Fathers in New York, and was ordained as a missionary for the order on June 13, 1953. He celebrated his first Mass at St. Mary’s on June 22, using a chalice left to him by Monsignor Schemel, who was a benefactor. Father Frank left immediately for the missions, stopping at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York for a departure ceremony with thirty-four other Maryknoll missioners and Francis Cardinal Spellman. He was assigned to the Diocese of Puno in Peru, called the “roof of South America” because it was two and one half miles above sea level. Father Frank labored diligently for his people; an article on the occasion of his 40th anniversary of ordination called him an “iron man” of his missionary region “because of his indefatigable energy, life style, and work.” Father Frank also served in Nicaragua, Guatamala, and the Honduras. Father Frank’s ministry began the association of St. Mary’s Parish with its native sons and daughters in missionary work. In June of 1954 the parish responded to Father Frank’s request for aid by shipping him a 225-pound trunk of donated clothing and a half-ton of other supplies, including seed. Father Frank’s parish had an eighty-acre farm but no implements or well water, so Tony Harpenau shipped them 400-pound windmill head. In 2000, Father Frank was completing construction of a large church in Copodin, Honduras.
Father Loyd Fiedler is the second priest with ties to St. Mary’s to become a missionary. From 1962 to 1970 Lloyd prepared for missionary work. He attended Divine Word College in Massachusetts, did missionary work and novitiate training at Conesus, New York, and completed his undergraduate work at Divine Word College in Epworth, Iowa. He pronounced his first vows as a member of the Society of the Divine Word on September 8, 1966. He then obtained a Master’s degree in pastoral theology from the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. Meanwhile, Lloyd spent summers in black missions in Chicago and Mississippi. He was finally ordained on December 19, 1970, at the chapel of the Divine Word Seminary in Techny, Illinois. He was assigned to missionary work in the Philippines under the Divine Word policy of ministering to people who have not heard the Christian message and are without native priests. He spent the first few months learning Tagalog, the native language. Father Fiedler was first the associate pastor at Sts. Nino and Calapan on the island of Mindaro, south of Manila. From 1974 to 1982 he was parish priest at St Nicholas de Tolento Parish, with responsibility for 40,000 souls. His next parish of Holy Spirit in Barcenango, Mindoro, was comprised of 15,000 souls. Father Fiedler was finally able to say his first Mass at St. Mary’s in Remsen on June 29, 1972. Over the course of his missionary career he has started two parishes, a grade school, and a high school. In 2000, Fr. Fiedler was working at a new assignment in the Philippines, serving ten sea-lake barrios in the region of Melgar. He was raising an adopted boy, AJ, and they often had to make due with no electricity or meat.
Sister Marilyn Freking in 2000 was working in a poor area of south Chicago, helping housing development residents make it through tough times.
Sister Shirley Waldschmitt, native to Remsen, helped found the Jardin de los Ninos, Spanish for “Garden of the Children” in New Mexico’s southern-most city, Las Cruces, in 1995. The facility was a childcare center for homeless children aged six weeks to six years. By 2000 the non-profit center served over 500 children. In 2000, Sister Shirley was helping run a childcare center for young homeless children near the Mexican border in New Mexico. She also helped found a halfway house for women newly released from prison. Sister Shirley died December 22, 2008, and was buried in the section of Mount Calvary Cemetery in Dubuque reserved for the Franciscans. Many mourn her passing and her service to God's children will never be forgotten.
Another St. Mary’s alumnus, Sister Phyllis Vaske, opened the North Tulsa Learning Center in the 1990’s. The center contained computers and other learning tools for underprivileged kids and was funded completely by donations. As of 2000, she was running this learning center.