Francesca (née Helen Marie) Walterscheid was born in Muenster, Texas. As she recalls her youth, Sister said she always expected to enter religious life and deliberately chose to enjoy her teenage years to the full. Very early, she followed her siblings into the intergenerational band of Muenster, where she was gradually promoted from playing triangle to various brass instruments, but she never had the chance to buy her own baton and become a majorette.
Sister entered the Sisters of St. Mary at Our Lady of Victory Convent in Fort Worth in 1946. After completing her Novitiate, Sister Francesca became a much-loved primary teacher in many of the Sisters of St. Mary Schools in Texas and California. Diminutive in stature, she was able to relate to small children in such a way that she is still remembered and loved by numerous students who have continued to visit her at OLV Center.
Much of Sister Francesca’s work at OLV involved caring for the sick and aged, so after retiring from the classroom, Sister spent ten years directing or assisting in the infirmary.
This included caring for her own mother, Annie Walterscheid, who lived with the Sisters in the OLV Infirmary until her death in 1985.
From 1988, when the OLV community moved into the new building called OLV Center on Shaw Street, to the present, Sister Francesca has served as Maintenance Coordinator of the OLV Retirement Center and Supervisor of the kitchen. More recently, she has been Co-Coordinator on the Leadership Team.
Sister Francesca served for a time with Sister Camella as a volunteer with “Wings of Hope,” an organization which uses equine therapy with handicapped children. For several years she also volunteered each Monday with Sr. Mary Elaine at Cook’s Children’s Hospital as a “Baby Bunny,” rocking infirm babies whose healing is hastened by loving attention.
Modest about her accomplishments, Sister Francesca is deeply appreciated in the community for her optimism, her sunny disposition, her willingness to stop what she’s doing and attend to others, her ability “not to sweat the small stuff,” and her irrepressible sense of humor. She and her “crew” festively decorate the house for special days or seasons and plan celebrations for each sister’s birthday. She collected a trunk of costumes for Halloween and Mardi Gras, and has fulfilled her dream of being a majorette at parties where she twirled a baton and lead parades through the dining room to the accompaniment of “When the Saints Go Marching In.”
She is mourned by numerous nieces and nephews (grand and great), cousins, and the Sisters of her religious community.