Sister Lorene Haas (Laverne)
Lorene Haas was inspired by the example of her Racine Dominican teachers at St. Norbert School in Roxbury, WI. She admired their teaching and the way they lived their lives. Because St. Norbert was a small, four-room school, “We had close contact with our teachers,” she said. “They were good teachers who not only seemed to be happy, but also encouraged us to think of religious life.”
Lorene responded to the encouragement by leaving Roxbury shortly after she turned 14 years old and traveling to Racine to join the community. At her reception four years later, she was given the name Sister Laverne, which she kept until the late 1960s.
S. Lorene taught in a number of schools around Wisconsin and in New Mexico before going to St. Benedict the Moor in Milwaukee. She spent the next 21 years teaching in Central City schools of Detroit and Milwaukee, years which were very meaningful to her. She was a “founding mother” of Urban Day School in Milwaukee when St. Benedict’s closed. “The school year began with 189 students in September of 1967. It now has 963 students from Headstart to eighth grade at two different campuses,” she noted proudly.
In reflecting about her 50+ years as a sister, S. Lorene is convinced she was called to religious life by God “who has, by providence and Her grace, seen me through the ups and downs.”
She would like people to know that Racine Dominicans “strive to be faith-filled, courageous, forward-looking women who, through study and being attuned to signs of the times, work to bring about change in an alienated, fragmented, consumeristic society.”
And to women who may be interested in religious life, S. Lorene encourages them to “take the plunge and come and see. You won’t know until you’ve tried it!”