Sister Lela Mae Fenton, age 84, died December 28, 2018, at SSM Franciscan Courts, Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Sister Lela Mae Fenton, born on February 10, 1934, in Kildare, Oklahoma, was the oldest of two children of Sylvester R. and Ida Mae (Tinker) Fenton. Sister Lela Mae was a member of the Osage Nation, a Native American Tribe of the Great Plains.
Sister Lela May entered the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother on August 30, 1951, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She professed vows on August 12, 1954, celebrated her Silver Jubilee in 1979 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Golden, and 60th Jubilee in 2002 and 2012 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Sister Lela Mae earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Arts from Mt. Mary College, Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1964; a Master of Arts degree in Education in 1971 from Cardinal Stritch College, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; a certificate in Theology from St. Norbert’s College, Green Bay, Wisconsin in 1989; and, in 1982, certificates in CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) from St. Luke’s Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and in 1989 from Wausau Hospital Center, Wausau, Wisconsin.
Sister Lela Mae ministered as a Sister of the Sorrowful Mother as a teacher from 1955-1982 in Our Lady of Guadalupe School, Wichita, Kansas; St. Patrick’s School, Estherville, Iowa, St. Francis Borgia School, Cedarburg, Wisconsin; St. Mary’s School, Bakerville, Wisconsin; Mother of Perpetual Help School and St. John de Nepomuc, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; as a Reading Specialist in the Indian Community School and St. Charles Boys Home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She ministered as a Patient Visitor in Pastoral care at Mercy Medical Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and St. Mary’s Hospital, Rhinelander, Wisconsin. She also co-authored a book that featured community member experiences of life as Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother.
She was privileged to serve on the Sokaogon Chippewa Reservation, Mole Lake, Wisconsin, for five years from 1993-1998. She ministered as a teacher in holistic health, community building, and empowerment at the Mi-Skwaa-O-Day Min Life Enhancement Center.
Within the community of the Sister of Sorrowful Mother, Sister Lela Mae provide services as follows: Chairperson of the Retirement Community in 1970, Researcher of Community History from June 1982-January 1987. In 1992 she was elected as a delegate to the 17th General Assembly that took place in Goiania, Brazil. She concluded her active ministry as Assistant Local Leader for the St. Joseph Community and St. Clare Community in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1999-2001. In the year 2000 Sister Lela Mae was appointed Spiritual Director for the Secular Franciscan in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Sister Lela Mae retired in 2001 and in 2005 she moved to SSM Franciscan Courts, Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Sister Lela Mae was known for her passion for justice for the poor. She was a gentle, loving spirit which she shared in her service to Native Americans and, as a reading specialist for children whom she taught to love reading. Sister Lela Mae was also a writer, a poet, and a lover of music. She was gifted with an incredible singing voice.
A Mass of Resurrection was celebrated on Thursday, January 3, 2019, at SSM Franciscan Courts with Reverend John Becker Officiating. Burial at Calvary Catholic Cemetery, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, followed the celebration of the Resurrection Liturgy.
May she rest in peace.