St. Anthony Alumnae—‘BVMs Gave Us Part of Themselves’

St. Anthony School in Dubuque, Iowa, known as “Dubuque’s First Catholic School on the Hill,” was established in 1872 and taught by BVMs for 80 years, from 1917–1997.

Its rich history has been chronicled by former student Maryls Dunphy (class of 1962), in her book, The Story of St. Anthony’s, published in 2012. “My years at St. Anthony School were such a happy time,” Marlys says. “My first grade class contained 55 students, yet Sr. M. Vivina Bly, BVM still holds a special place in my heart for how good she made each of us feel.” 

Her older sister, Maureen Frommelt, attended St. Anthony for the last three grades. “Sister Vincentia Kaeferstein was my eighth grade teacher and resides at Marian Hall. I love to visit her—she is still, well into her 90s, an example for me of a godly woman,” Maureen shares. The BVMs influenced Maureen deeply and she entered the community for a short time in 1959. “It left a lifelong impression,” she adds. “The BVMs have shown me the path to holiness on life’s journey.”

Another alumna from the class of 1962, Diane Hocking Muir, recalls, “Our days were filled with challenge, high standards of quality work, and always thinking of others.” Diane went on to become a teacher and then a principal, reflecting BVM values of “education, giving back, respect for one another, and deep faith.”

All three alumnae agree that St. Anthony set high standards for the students, with well-educated BVM teachers, innovative learning techniques, placement of students at higher grade levels based on their abilities, and the connection to Clarke University, with a “lab school” utilizing Clarke’s student teachers to generate fresh, new ways of teaching and learning at St. Anthony. “We were rich in faith and learning opportunities,” says Diane.

“I am fortunate to have had BVMs in grade school, high school and college . . . they have become some of my best friends and confidants,” Marlys says. She enjoys visiting the sisters who taught her and sharing her life with them. “We owe them so much.”

“My BVM education shaped my values, love of learning and instilled in me the highest respect for the field of education and teachers,” Diane reflects. “It is important to stay connected to the sisters because they still enrich my life with their faith, stories, curiosity and love of life and community. It is humbling to be with the sisters who have given of their love and talents and have shaped the minds of thousands of children.”

“I stay connected to the BVMs through participation in the Roberta Kuhn Center’s classes for seniors at Mount Carmel,” says Maureen. “My spirituality flourishes under the BVM example and guidance. I support the sisters because they are women who calmly and wisely live the gospel in this troubled world.”