Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis

Sr. Thomas Kundmueller

I was born in Cleveland, Ohio on February 14, 1929 and am the oldest in a family of four girls and three boys. My parents were self-sacrificing and provided a home filled with love and guidance.

Early in my high school education, my family moved into Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Cleveland. I was greatly impressed by the simple life of the Friars, and especially by their cheerfulness and giving of themselves. During high school, I felt the urge to become a Franciscan, nurse, and missionary. After graduation, I still had that desire so I sought the advice of my Pastor, Father Linus Koenemund, OFM, and a friend, Father Donulud Wunderlich, OFM. Both of them suggested that I visit the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis in Springfield, Illinois. Following a visit to the Motherhouse, I felt that the Lord was calling me to a life as a Hospital Sister of St. Francis. My parents supported the decision, but my father teased me about going so far from home when the Poor Clare Monastery and the Motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph were just down the street from our home in Cleveland.

I entered the Hospital Sisters on February 1, 1948 and professed my religious vows on October 4, 1950, 65 years ago. After my Profession day, I was enrolled in St. John’s Hospital School of Nursing where I completed my nursing education in three years. I took a post-graduate course in surgery after which I was assigned as Supervisor of Surgery at St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital in Effingham, Illinois.

My next venture in 1960 fulfilled my heart’s desire to be a nurse missionary with the Hospital Sisters in Japan.  Learning the Japanese language was difficult, but with the help of the Japanese Sisters, it was not a hindrance. When I arrived in Himeji, the Sisters lived and worked in a former USA soldiers’ barracks which were without heat, and of course no air conditioning. The move into the new St. Mary’s Hospital with heat and an air-conditioned operating room was a wonderful experience for all. While working in surgery, I initiated the most recent changes in surgical procedures that I had learned in America. 

When I returned from Japan in 1970, I did bedside nursing in several of our Illinois hospitals. In 1989, I joined Sisters Mary Ellen Rombach and Carol Baltosiewich in the newly established mission at Bethany Place in Belleville, Illinois, assisting people with HIV/AIDS. During the past 25 years there has been great progress in the quantity and effects of medications, as well as medical care and social services. If the Lord so wills, I would like to continue in this service to HIV/AIDS people for many more years.

I express my gratitude to the good Lord for His ever-present love and guidance through the years before and throughout Community life as a Hospital Sister of St. Francis.