UPDATED information in paragraphs 3 and 8.
ALLOUEZ — Two women who have worked on the diocesan curia staff for many years will retire from diocesan ministry at the end of June.
Sr. Jane Riha, coordinator of Hispanic Ministry Formation, and Clare Sturm, worship and sacraments coordinator, will retire on June 30.
Sr. Jane, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross, started at the diocese in 1986. She served as a consultant in what was then known as the department of Total Catholic Education. It was a newly-formed team in the diocese that year. She was responsible for curriculum development, the standard testing program, school and program evaluations, and diocesan education conferences. She served until 1989 and again from 1990 to 1991 and from 1996 to 1997.
In 1999, she returned to the diocese as coordinator of Hispanic Pastoral Ministry for the Fox Valley. She explained that this was a new initiative of the diocese at the time. The ministry was based at St. Gabriel Parish in Neenah. In 2002, it moved to St. Therese Parish in Appleton. She continued with the program until 2004.
“I served as parish leader for a regional ministry to the Hispanic faith community within a parish setting,” Sr. Jane said of that position. She added that she provided leadership training, sacramental, catechetical and liturgical formation.
She had found her niche and spent many of the following years in Hispanic ministry.
“The need to serve immigrants in our area of the diocese led me to preparation for ministry with the Hispanic community,” she said. “As you may have gleaned, my religious community has a strong ethic of being well-prepared for ministry. I ultimately prepared for ministry with the Hispanic community by studying Spanish, going to Mexico to language schools on more than one occasion and receiving pastoral ministry training through the Mexican American Cultural Center, San Antonio, Texas.”
In July 2006, the diocese created a new position — coordinator of Hispanic Ministry Formation — and Sr. Jane stepped into that role. She was responsible for the development of the program, courses and coordination of the Hispanic Ministry Formation Program called Discípulos de Cristo, a three-year program of leadership formation for Hispanics taught in the Spanish language. In 2017, Apóstoles de Cristo, a two-year program, was further developed to provide an opportunity for Discípulos de Cristo graduates to continue formation. During this time, from 2004 to 2009, she also served as pastoral leader at St. Lawrence, Navarino.
In 2010, she took a break from diocesan ministry to assume a four-year leadership position with her community. In 2014, Sr. Jane became pastoral leader at St. Philip the Apostle Parish in Green Bay. She returned to the diocesan Curia in 2016.
Looking back at her years in the diocese, Sr. Jane said, “I was blessed with being part of a creative and visionary process with other persons who share a deep passion for the mission of the church. I am an educator at heart. All of my ministries have focused on education and formation. The greatest gift was to see persons grow and develop personally and as ministers and leaders in the Hispanic community.”
Clare Sturm was liturgy coordinator at St. Bernard Parish in Appleton when Bishop David Zubik asked her to work in the Worship Office in 2007. She said she was “surprised and honored” by the request.
Sturm worked directly with parishes to assist them in preparing for Masses with the bishops of the diocese as well as confirmations. She also answered liturgical questions for parishes and individuals.
A skilled musician, she provided music for the daily Masses at St. Joseph Chapel at the diocesan office complex. She also coordinated liturgical events at the diocese such as Holy Hour, special Masses, prepared worship aids for curia Masses and even arranged for monthly confession time for fellow curia members.
It was a lifelong musical journey for Sturm, who first played the organ at her home parish of St. Mary in Rock Valley, Iowa, when she was in high school.
Sturm found her work at the diocese a constant growth experience and enjoyed interacting with parishes around the diocese. “I learned that people are committed to good liturgy and doing their best to bring prayerful experiences to parishes,” she said.
“I appreciated listening to questions or responding to emails concerning many aspects of people’s experience with liturgy and worship,” she added. “It was my honor to hear many interests and needs and to be able to reply, especially with quotations from liturgical documents, to help with understanding liturgy questions. It was my opportunity to learn more also by delving into liturgical research to assist others.”
To learn even more, she undertook studies at St. Norbert College in De Pere and earned her master’s in theological studies degree.
As they leave their positions at the diocese, both women said they will most miss their fellow curia members. Sr. Jane called them “the wonderful people with whom I minister.”