In Loving Memory
Sister Ethel (Emilene) Radtke, OSB, 90, died November 27, 2010, at St. Scholastica Monastery. She entered the Duluth Benedictine community January 6, 1941, and professed her monastic vows July 11, 1942. She celebrated her Silver Jubilee August 16, 1967, her Golden Jubilee July 26, 1992, and her Diamond Jubilee July 28, 2002.
Sister Ethel was born January 17, 1920, in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, where she attended Washington High School, graduating as Valedictorian in 1938. On June 6, 1945, she graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree from The College of St. Scholastica where she majored in biology and minored in chemistry. She earned a masters degree from the Institute Divi Thomae in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1948 and did doctoral studies at the University of Notre Dame.
She made use of her scientific knowledge when teaching at Cathedral High School in Duluth and at The College of St. Scholastica where she also served as prefect. In 1968 Sister Ethel’s ministry took her to Holy Redeemer Center in Two Rivers where she was the Adult Religious Coordinator. Later she was asked to fill a position by the Duluth Diocesan Department of Religious Education to the Indian apostolate at St. Catherine Mission in Squaw Lake, Minnesota.
This ministry lasted for thirty-six years beginning with the teaching of religion and expanding over the years to Indian crafts and culture, serving as the Community Resource Person, and providing a variety of services to the elderly. In her own words, advocacy for the elderly, “means being present to the needs which arise…knowing how and where to turn to help fill these needs.” When she found that many adults lacked high school diplomas, she began not only to teach GED classes but to chauffeur her students to the exam sites. This pioneer work resulted in GED programs established by both the school district and the Indian Tribal Council. She returned to St. Scholastica Monastery when she retired August 21, 2005.
Many of her Native American friends from Squaw Lake who came to her wake expressed their gratitude for her work among them. One woman said Sister Ethel left a special mark on everyone she met. Another said she respected their culture and way of life and did not try to impose her beliefs on them. Others commented on her love of nature. Catechetical teaching in various places during the summer offered her many opportunities to be in touch with nature. As one person commented, even when she was skating she would often look up at the stars. The presider at the funeral Mass, Father Steven Daigle, former pastor at St. Catherine’s, said Sister Ethel was a companion and true friend of the people, a presence of Christ for the diocese, and it was clear to all that she was an extension of the Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Emil and Mabel (Peltier) Radtke and her brother, Harold Radtke. Sister Ethel is survived by the Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery, an aunt, other relatives, and many friends.
A wake service and Mass of Christian Burial were celebrated in Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel at St. Scholastica Monastery December 4, 2010. Interment was in Gethsemane Cemetery.