NEW HOLSTEIN — The Daughters of Isabella organization has held a special place in Judith Schisel’s heart for more than a quarter of a century.
So when Schisel, 65, retired in August 2018, she made sure the international Catholic women’s organization remained an integral part of her life.
The same month she retired, Schisel traveled to Montreal and was elected international vice regent during the biennial convention for the International Circle of the Daughters of Isabella. The group was formed in 1897 in New Haven, Conn., as an auxiliary to the Knights of Columbus.
More than 60,000 women from the United States and Canada are involved with various spiritual and fund-raising activities to benefit an array of charities and disaster relief efforts.
“I believe in what the Daughters of Isabella represent and the ways we help people,” said Schisel, a member of Holy Rosary Parish in New Holstein. “I believe as a Catholic woman we need to stick together not only for ourselves, which is important, but also stick together for the legacy of the Daughters of Isabella.”
Schisel followed in the footsteps of her late mother, Caroline Steiner, who was a 1954 charter member of Daughters of Isabella Marian Circle #923 in New Holstein. Steiner held various titles on local and state levels over the years before passing away in 2011 at the age of 80.
Schisel joined Marian Circle #923 in 1992. That group disbanded in 2016, and Schisel is now a member of Little Flower Circle #360 in Fond du Lac (the other state Daughters of Isabella circle is based in Baraboo). Of the 59 women in Little Flower Circle #360, Schisel is the lone representative from the Diocese of Green Bay.
“I thought if I’m going to put my time into something, I’m going to do it in something I enjoyed,” Schisel said in explaining her decision to join the Daughters of Isabella. “My mother was involved and I had an aunt who was a member, so I thought it was something I’d enjoy and would benefit the community.”
A few weeks after joining the Daughters of Isabella, Schisel accepted a leadership role on the local level, which served as a springboard for future titles on the state level. She held the title of state regent from 2009 until 2012 before serving two terms as international director, spanning 2012 to 2016. Schisel then devoted two years as international secretary/treasurer until her recent election as international vice regent.
Her primary responsibilities include assisting the international regent (Susanne Suchy of Michigan), contributing to planning efforts, increasing membership and serving on a team that ensures the organization’s constitution and bylaws are followed and, when necessary, amended following proper protocol. The current international board’s motto is “Believe! If you have the desire, you also have the power to make it happen.”
Schisel also serves as a Communion for the Homebound volunteer at Holy Rosary Parish. About once a month, she takes Communion to people who are homebound or residing at one of two local assisted living facilities.
“I really am connected with it, because my dad (the late Melvin Steiner) used to do that for my mother for three and one-half years when she was in the nursing home,” Schisel said. “As often as he would go to church, he would bring Communion to her. It feels good to repay that now, you might say.”
Schisel is the second oldest of 16 children. She grew up in nearby Charlesburg on her parents’ 80-acre farm, which had about 90 cows, more than 2,000 chickens and other assorted animals. In addition to farming, her father worked in a factory and sold Catholic Financial Life insurance.
The family attended Mass regularly at what used to be St. Charles Church and contributed to events like the parish picnic. After graduating from New Holstein High School, Schisel worked as a cook in a local nursing home for about six months. She married Elmer Schisel in 1972 at St. Charles Church, and the couple moved to California during Elmer’s tenure with the U.S. Marine Corps.
Upon returning to the area in 1974, the Schisels lived in Kiel and began attending SS. Peter and Paul Parish. Two years later they moved to New Holstein and Holy Rosary Parish has been their home ever since.
The Schisels have two adult children, Tim and Angela, and three grandchildren. Schisel attended St. Charles School for grades one through eight and was a member of the last graduating class from that school in 1967.
In her spare time, Schisel enjoys reading, walking, going on trips with her sisters, spending time with her grandchildren and working part-time as a massage therapist. She also supports Relay for Life, a fundraising event for the American Cancer Society.