Servite Sr. Dominica Effertz is pictured with school Principal Sara Zeien after being presented with flowers and the gift of a memorial painting that will be hung in the adoration chapel at St. Francis de Sales Church in Spooner. Sr. Dominica was honored for her 50 years of service at the parish school and in cluster ministries. (Submitted photo)

Jenny Snarski
Catholic Herald Staff

Sarah Zeien, principal and alumna of Spooner’s St. Francis de Sales School, offered a short presentation to honor Sr. Dominica Effertz, OSM, at the end of Mass Nov. 3.

Zeien started with the story of how her mother, a then-school parent and pregnant with Sarah, the youngest of five daughters, spoke with Sr. Dominica in 1975 and asked her to stay long enough to teach her youngest in the first and second grades.

Not only did Effertz stay long to teach Zeien, but she has continued to serve the school and parish cluster long enough to see her former student become the school’s principal in 2018.

The principal then invited various individuals – parishioners, former students and family members – to come to the front. Each held a letter, to spell out S-I-S-T-E-R D-O-M-I-N-I-C-A, with words to describe her. Sr. Dominica joined in the laughter when the occasional margarita was mentioned for the letter “m,” along with “ministering to the homebound, Mother Mary and music.”

Sr. Dominica shared some words, starting with a tribute to her parents, who “nurtured me, cared for me and shaped me into the person I am today,” and a throng of other family members present. Three Servite sisters were also in attendance.

Former students were asked to stand, including alumni from the schools in Amery and Washburn where Sr. Dominica had taught before coming to Spooner, and those multi-generational school families.

“It’s all about family and relationships – we’re all united and together as children of God,” she said.

The sister offered many words of gratitude for those who accompanied her throughout her 37 years serving in schools.

She admitted responding to Zeien’s mother that she would never be at the school long enough to teach her daughter. Sr. Dominica pulled out a class photo she still had from the now-principal’s first grade class, and said what a blessing she is and how proud they are of her.

“Such a happy occasion,” Sr. Dominica called the day.

“My heart is grateful as I ask God to bless each one of you, and I just can’t thank you enough for all your love and support over these years.”