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Sister Donna Marie Koenigsknecht

While growing up on her family’s farm near Fowler, MI, Donna Marie Koenigsknecht admired the Racine Dominicans who taught her, and from an early age, she knew she wanted to be a sister. However, she also knew she did not want to be a teacher like them, but wanted to support others so they could go out and teach. “I prefer to be in the background,” she said.

After finishing eighth grade, she set out to fulfill her dream by traveling to Racine and entering the aspirancy. At her reception three years later, Donna Marie became Sister Leonard Marie, and for 50 years she has been “in the background,” working hard and offering her dedicated support to those more visible in the community.

She has ministered in Chicago, Oconomowoc, Pewaukee and at Siena Center in Racine, where she now lives. Especially meaningful to S. Donna Marie were the 25 years she spent at Our Lady of the Oaks, where she tended the orchard, gardened, painted, helped in maintenance and in many other arenas. “It was beautiful there,” she reflected. “I enjoyed watching things grow and then being able to have sisters at Siena Center, as well as those at Our Lady of the Oaks, enjoy them.”

Being a sister has meant “…there is always someone to help you in difficult times,” she said. “We’re all heading to the same place, and the companionship and community prayer help us all. It’s nice knowing you’re not in it alone.”

She would like people to know that Racine Dominicans care for people, are committed to peace and justice, and are a prayerful community. To those who may consider religious life she says, “Consider the possibilities!”

Thinking about what religious life may offer someone, she quickly cites those aspects of being a Racine Dominican that have meant most to her: “community, prayer life, companionship and supporting one another along the way.”