Obituary: Sister Adrienne Weseman SNDdeN
Although Ardis Weseman was born and baptized in Wisconsin, she lived most of her childhood in Chicago, Illinois. There she attended public school for seven years and finished her elementary education at St. Genevieve Parish School. Ardis was confirmed at St. Genevieve Parish in 1943. With other young women from St. Genevieve’s, she continued her education at Notre Dame High School where the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur were her teachers. When Ardis began to seriously consider a vocation to religious life, she turned to her teachers for advice.
The Sisters affirmed her desire to be of service to others so Ardis applied and was accepted into the candidacy of the Sisters of Notre Dame located at Maryhurst, Columbus, Ohio. As a candidate, Ardis lived with the Sisters and other young women discerning a call to religious life as she completed her education at St. Joseph Academy. Ardis graduated from St. Joseph’s in 1947 and returned to Chicago. She worked in an office and attended college in the evenings for a year as she continued her discernment.
Ardis entered the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur on September 4, 1948 at Mount Notre Dame, Reading, Ohio. She received the name Sister Adrienne Marie as a novice, and would be known as Adrienne for the rest of her life. Education was the primary ministry of the Sisters, so she prepared to teach. In 1951, Sister Adrienne’s first mission was to the Kindergarten at Mount Notre Dame where she taught until the beginning of 1957. Her second mission was to teach Grade 4 at St. Susanna Parish School in Mason for a few months. From there Sister Adrienne was missioned to St. Victor Parish School, Calumet City, Illinois where she taught 5th, 6th and 7th grades for the next five years. She returned to Ohio and taught 6th Grade Religion, Mathematics and Reading at The Summit Country Day School and then served for two years at Most Holy Trinity School in Phoenix teaching 6th and 7th Grades.
By 1967 the changes instituted by the Second Vatican Council were beginning to impact the Church at the local level. There was a huge need for new ways of teaching young people about their religion and re-educating adults. Sister Adrienne was asked to accept a mission to Dayton, Ohio where she would take on two new ministries: parish religious education and serving as Superior of the community where she lived. She found herself a pioneer in the role of Director of Religious Education. At the same time she was in a very traditional role with the Sisters while the community was undergoing radical changes. In spite of the inherent difficulties in balancing the two tasks with which she had been entrusted, Sister Adrienne discovered she loved the work of Religious Education. It would be the focus of her ministry for the rest of her life. For over 52 years she lived the words of Saint Julie Billiart, foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur: “We must not give religious instruction to our children without having meditated in the presence of God upon what we intend to teach them. This is necessary in order that the Holy Spirit may speak through us, for of all good works, the greatest and most important is the instruction of children in the truths of our holy religion.” (Themes, pages 80-81)
Sister Adrienne was missioned to St. Alexander Parish, Villa Park, Illinois in 1969 where she served as the Director of Religious Education for 29 years. In that role Sister Adrienne oversaw the Pre-School through Grade 12 Religious Education Programs for the school and the parish. Throughout those years she belonged to professional organizations, participated in conferences and workshops, and furthered her how education to better be able to serve multiple generations at St. Alexander’s. Her work for her Master of Arts in Religious Studies was practical: she developed an eight year Elementary Religious Curriculum. While at St. Alexander’s, Sister Adrienne served on Parish Council and the Christian Education Commission, participated in an adult education group, served as a Eucharistic minister and conducted Communion Services.
Sister Adrienne, with Sister Joan Shields, accepted a mission to serve as Co-Directors of Religious Education at Our Lady of the Wayside Parish, Arlington Heights, Illinois in 1998. They served on the Parish Religious Education Board and Education Commission, attended weekly staff meetings, and taught sacramental preparation classes for children preparing for Reconciliation, First Communion and Confirmation. They helped plan all the school Masses, and trained the children for liturgical ministries. Together they helped three generations of children come to see and know the goodness of God within themselves and in the world around them. In a 2013 article, appropriately titled “Sharing the Grace & Joy of Faith”, Sister Adrienne said: “We teach the students, but we learn so much from them as well. They deepen my faith and confirm for me that there is something for each of us to do on this earth. Something that no one else can do. That knowledge brings me closer to God, to my faith and connects it all to the spirituality of Notre Dame.” Sister Adrienne continued to ‘share the grace and joy of faith’ at Our Lady of the Wayside until her death.
The news of Sister Adrienne’s sudden death came in the midst of a pandemic, making public celebrations of her life impossible until a later date. In the meantime, her Sisters, family, co-workers, friends and former and current students gather to mourn in the Heart of our good God. There we give thanks for the gift of Sister Adrienne’s long and full life of making known God’s goodness. We ask her prayers for each of us as we pray:
Give thanks to him, bless his name; good indeed is the Lord, his mercy endures forever, his faithfulness lasts through every Generation. (Psalm 100:4-5)
- Born March 24, 1930 in Neenah, Wisconsin
- Parents: Henry Joseph Weseman (born in Chicago, Illinois) and Adrienne St. Marie (born in Oconto, Wisconsin)
- Siblings: Ronald Weseman, Jacqueline Weseman, Joan Weseman Evan
- Baptized on April 6, 1930 at St. Patrick Church in Menasha, Wisconsin
- Confirmed on May 14, 1943 at Saint Genevieve Church, Chicago, Illinois
- Entered September 4, 1948 at Mt. Notre Dame, Reading, Ohio
- First Profession: March 8, 1951
- Final Profession: August 13, 1956
- Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio, 1962
- Master of Arts in Religious Studies from Mundelein College, Chicago, Illinois, 1976
- Master of Arts in Pastoral Theology, St. Mary of the Woods, Terre Haute, Indiana, 1996
- 1951- 1957 Mt. Notre Dame Academy, Reading, Ohio
- 1957-1957 St. Susanna School, Mason, Ohio
- 1957-1962 St. Victor School, Calumet City, Illinois
- 1962-1965 Summit Country Day School, Cincinnati, Ohio
- 1965-1967 Most Holy Trinity School, Phoenix, Arizona
- 1967-1969 St. Helen Parish, Dayton, Ohio – Director of Religious Education/Superior
- 1969-1998 St. Alexander Parish, Villa Park, Illinois – Director of Religious Education
- 1998-2020: Co-Director of Religious Education, Our Lady of the Wayside, Arlington Heights, Illinois
Died: April 24, 2020