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This and That - The Franciscan Sisters and the Recker Book PDF Print E-mail
Monday, January 14, 2013 10:18 AM


It has been nearly a year since my new-found friend, Judy (Metzger) Washbush took my to Tiffin to spend a week-end with the Tiffin Franciscan Sisters (OSF). Judy is a Fort Jennings native, now living in Wisconsin. Judy was a Franciscan for a few years, 1960 to 1970.  She entered the community as a sophomore in the Convent High School. After her profession, she took the name Sister Antonius.  She is now married and has five grown children.

Judy asked me to write an article on how many Franciscan Sisters were in the Recker Book. The book “The Recker Connection in America” was compiled and written by Jeanette Laudick (Mrs. Richard)) of Ottawa.


There are currently eight Franciscan “cousins” in the Recker Book. They are:  Sister Jacquelyn  “Jackie” Doepker, Community Minister (formerly referred to as Mother Superior);  Sister Andrea Inkrott, member of council;  Sister Carol Inkrott, Pastoral Leader at St. Mary’s Parish in Bluffton, Sister Bernice Hartman, clerical support;  Sister Mary Hartman, Hospice LPN;  Sister Maurice, former teacher now living at the St. Francis Home; Sister Catherine Wechter, former nurse, now living in the St. Francis Home; and Sister Linda Scheckelhoff, Pastoral minister at La Trinitaria,   Chiapas, Mexico. Three of the “Recker Sisters” are deceased. They are Sister Anthony Krienbrink, 1895 – 1979; Sister Theresa Mass, 1907 – 2004 and Sister Jane Schmenk, 1918 – 2004. Judy Washbush is also among the “cousins” in the Recker Book.


Another interesting fact is that the Tiffin Franciscans have a membership of 99 sisters at this time with 26 of them from Putnam County, Landeck and Delphos. They are the following: Sr. Andrea Inkrott, Sr. Carol Inkrott, Sr. Mary Kuhlman, Sr. Linda Scheckelhoff and Sr. Paulette Schroeder from New Cleveland; Sr. Kateri Kaufman, Sr. Rebecca Aelker, Sr. Diane Kleman and Sr. Joanne Lammers from Miller City; Sr. Marcille Liebrecht, Sr. Edna Michel and Sr. Margaret Verhoff from Cuba (Ohio); Sr. Edna Ricker, Sr. MaryAnn Lucke, Sr. Jane Schimmoeller and Sr. Carol Pothast from Fort Jennings;  Sr. Emma Pothast, Sr. Antonia Rode, Sr. Rita Wienken, Sr. Marietta Kill, Sr. Diane Mueller and Sr. Lucy Bonifas from Landeck;  Sr. Yvonne Fischer from Delphos;  Sr. Julie Grote from Kalida;  Sr. Gemma Fenbert, from Fort Jennings/Columbus Grove;  and Sr. Rosann Morman from Leipsic/New Cleveland.

Judy pointed out that this week of Jan. 14-19 is Vocation Awareness Week. The Tiffin Community has two novices, Marcia Boes and Lourdes Toribio. They also had two women to enter the Franciscans and profess their vows during the past year. They are Sister Shirley Shafranek and Sister Lisa Hershiser.

The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis had their origin in Tiffin, Ohio in 1869. The Reverend Joseph Louis Bihm was serving as pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish in Tiffin. He had been cherishing the hope of founding a home for destitute orphans.

Father Bihm, a native of Bavaria, Germany came to the United States in 1845 at the age of 23. After working several years as a clerk in a dry goods store in Cleveland, he entered St. Mary’s Seminary in that city. He was ordained in 1856 and appointed pastor of the Tiffin Parish.

During his pastorate Father Bihm often had the task of finding suitable homes for poor orphans. Some orphans lived in the poorhouses, under poor conditions. In 1866 the Ohio Legislature passed a law authorizing the establishment of county homes for the children. Children were often sent from the cities on “orphan trains.” They were known to have come through this area of Ohio. People would meet the train and some would take a child into their home. It was known that the New York Society sent 1,000 poor orphan children to the Western states from “distribution” between 1854 and 1875.

Every time Father Bihm saw a homeless child, he would hear Christ’s words: “As long as you did it for one of these…..” He desired to open a home where these boys and girls could be given a home and could be properly reared. In 1867 he bought a 48 farm for $5,000 from Dr. Freeman E. Franklin. He began working on this dream of offering shelter for the poor orphans and a home for aged persons. This farm was located on Melmore Road, southeast of Tiffin. It was part of the “Franklin” Addition to the town of Oakley, the first town surveyed and platted in Seneca County. The two-story frame house on this property became the nucleus of the present St. Francis Home.

Father Bihm mentioned his intentions to his parishioners and asked a widow, Mrs. Elizabeth Schaefer for assistance in the project. On 1 March 1868 Mrs. Schaefer, along with her father, John B. Greiveldinger and her two daughters, Mary Ann and Josephine left their farm, located halfway between Tiffin and New Riegel, to devote themselves to a life of charity.

Father Bihm was granted permission and given the blessings of Bishop Rappe of Cleveland to found a community of Sisters to help in this wonderful project.  He asked Mrs. Schaefer to be a co-founder of the religious community. The women donated their savings, along with the $4,000 from the sale of the farm to the fledging community. Two more candidates from the local parish joined the community. The first four women to become Sisters of St. Francis were:  Miss Mary Schaefer, Mrs. Elizabeth Schaefer, Cunigunda Schmidt and Elizabeth’s older daughter, MaryAnn, at the age of 18. June 4, 1869, was chosen as the day for reception and profession.

The sisters took on the work of caring for the children and the aged. Cooking, cleaning, mending and sewing were everday tasks. They wove cloth from the flax grown on the farm and made woolen cloth from the wool of the sheep that they raised. When more farm land was purchased they also had to do the planting and harvesting of crops. In 1871 the Sisters were offered a new field of labor when the pastor of St. Nicholas Church in Frenchtown asked them to teach in the parish school.  In 1969 the Sisters were teaching in elementary and secondary schools in Blakeslee, Bryan, Bucyrus, Carey, Custar, Delphos, Edgerton, Millersville, New Washington, North Auburn, Oak Harbor, Payne, Peru, Toledo (St. Teresa) Willard, Fort Jennings, Landeck, Miller City, New Cleveland, Bellevue Tiffin, Lima, Paducah, Kentucky and Bismarck, North Dakota.

Many local and area residents remember the Franciscans who taught in Landeck, Fort Jennings and at the St. John‘s Annex in Delphos. They were Sisters Norbertine Loshe, Vincent Kohls, Josephine Schnegg, Janet Beckman, Virginia, Ottilia, Theophane, Loyola, Edwardine, Jacqueline and Sister Pascal. Personally, I remember Sister Josephine as a loving, gentle soul, as our sixth grade teacher at Fort Jennings.  She always read us a story when we returned to class after lunch hour.  Sister Ottilia was our fifth grade teacher.  She was nice too.  My favorite remembrance of Sister Ottilia is her throwing an eraser at Paul Schimmoeller. I don’t remember what he did, but I’m sure he deserved it.  She had pretty good aim too.  Many Delphos people remember Sister Bea (Beatrice Herman) when she was the pastoral assistant at our St. John the Evangelist Parish.

That’s all for now.  In two weeks we will tell more about the sisters since Vatican II and go into details on the Recker Families.

Johan Heinrich Recker (1766 – 1840) and his wife, Anna Maria Linkemeyer (1770 – 1840) came to America on 12 September 1838. Their children came around the same time.  Among their descendants are 79 priests, sisters and brothers, who live all over the United States, Canado and Mexico. Eleven of these became Tiffin Franciscans, and another eleven are Precious Blood Sisters.  Johan and Anna settled in Glandorf. Many are members of other religious communities.Sr. Andrea Inkrott and Sr. Jacquelyn


Last Updated on Thursday, February 28, 2013 11:23 AM

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