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Welcome 2023 Covenant Companions

On Sunday, December 10, we received the Covenant Commitment of 7 new Covenant Companions and honor the 40th Anniversary of Covenant Companionship.

Covenant Companion Ceremony

Covenant Companionship is a distinctive way for individuals to deepen their relationship with God through a mutual relationship with the Wheaton Franciscan community. The covenant commitment comes after a time of prayer and preparation.

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Meet Our New Covenant Companions

Covenant Companions come from diverse backgrounds, encompassing all ages, faiths, and walks of life. They share in and embrace the spirit of the Wheaton Franciscans so that together, we may be peace, transformation, hope, and healing in the world. Click arrow next to each name to read their bios.

Ophelia Barsketis

Ophelia grew up on the South Side of Chicago near Marquette Park. Her parents came to the US from displaced persons camps in Germany. Ophelia is proud of her Lithuanian heritage and was raised Catholic, receiving her elementary and high school education in Catholic schools.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and an MBA. Her career has always involved financial services, where she worked in international business (before children) and banking once her kids arrived.

Ophelia is divorced and the single mom of four adult children, all adopted from Lithuanian orphanages. Her volunteering and travel have always revolved around her kids. A resident of Inverness, she also enjoys sports (skiing, golf, and tennis) and quiet hobbies such as reading and needlework.

Ophelia learned of the Wheaton Franciscan sisters through friends working at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital. Sr. Pat Norton introduced her to sisters during the Covid shutdown. She serves on the People’s Resource Center Board and Finance Committee. She believes in giving back through time and talent.

“I was schooled by sisters and have always had a deep respect for vowed sisters. St. Francis was always my favorite saint. Finding the intersection point of both has been a gift. I want to support and participate further with the Franciscan way of life and the sisters.”

Sr. Louise Bernier, SSSF

Louise moved to unincorporated Glen Ellyn from Detroit at the age of 3. Cornfields surrounded her home, her sister was intellectually disabled, and her father was an airline pilot, so Louise learned to be independent and entertain herself. Friends were few and lived far away; they played hide-and-seek on horseback on the old Maryknoll property.

Louise became a School Sister of Saint Francis and celebrated her 60th anniversary in religious life in 2021. After she left teaching, she worked for the Clerk of the Circuit Court, DuPage County, to help make this area of government work for all those who use it. For 15 years she managed the County Child Support Division. When the clerk’s office created a database for court records, she helped test the program for use by judges, police departments, state agencies, and ordinary people.

A citizen of the world, Louise has visited London, China, and Africa; taken a ferry from Bergen, Norway to Kirkenes; lived on the tundra with polar bears; and enjoyed road trips across the US. She has dual citizenship (US and Ireland) and her family is enrolled in the Ojibwe tribe at Brimley, MI. She is a member of the Chicago Buddhist Vihara temple and practices Buddhist meditation. Photography is a serious hobby, and she reads a lot. She is currently on a Louse Penny binge.

“I chose to become a Covenant Companion because an individual can do only so much. Covenant Companions, the Wheaton Franciscans, my own religious order: we each have a marvelous opportunity to model the balance between the individual and the group and together make the Gospel experience grow.”

Clare Foy

Clare spent her childhood in the Ribble Valley, Lancashire in northwest England, coming from a large family (her mum and dad, two brothers, a sister, and 28 cousins). She received a Catholic education and was taught by the Marist fathers during her teen years.

Clare was a podiatrist in the UK before coming to the US. She worked at the YMCA for 16 years and then retrained at the College of DuPage as a dental hygienist in 2012. Clare is divorced with an annulled. She has a son, Liam, who lives in Omaha, NE, and a daughter, Grace, who lives in St. Charles.

Clare likes to return to the UK for an annual visit when possible and also enjoys making a personal retreat in Michigan during the fall. She does cross stitch and is part of a craft group at her church. She sings alto in the church choir, and period dramas and “whodunnit” mysteries are among her favorite TV shows.

She first connected with the Wheaton Franciscan community through the Franciscan Way of Life program.

“I was called by the Spirit during the pandemic, seeking a Franciscan home with followers of Francis and Clare who live Gospel-to-life and life-to-Gospel.”

Jennifer Humecke

Jennifer grew up locally, where her parishes included Christ the King (Lombard), St. James the Apostle (Glen Ellyn), St. Thomas the Apostle (Naperville), and St. Mark the Apostle (Wheaton). Now, she calls Our Lady of the Angels her home parish.

Jennifer earned a bachelor’s degree in professional writing from Purdue University and a master’s degree in library and information science from Dominican University. She began her career as a technical writer in financial services before transitioning to a cataloguer at two local libraries. Today, she serves as the regional secretary for the Wheaton Franciscan Sisters.

Jennifer and her husband, Bill, have been married for 31 years. Their daughter Jill recently married her husband Brandon; their daughter Julianna moved to Madison, WI, after college graduation; and their son Ben attends College of DuPage. She also companions her mother, who lives in Wheaton.

Her family enjoys vacationing in the Wisconsin woods each summer and they have visited Hilton Head Island, SC.  She and Bill were honored to participate in the 2022 Assisi/Rome pilgrimage – a highlight of their lives! Jennifer likes to cook, garden, and read non-fiction books on self-help and spirituality (and the occasional ghost story or mystery). She also loves to watch baseball and football, is a Beatles fan, and enjoys walking with her dog Husky.

“I chose to become a Covenant Companion because I want to lead a Franciscan-based lifestyle.”

Ellen Masuret

Ellen is the middle child of three girls, born a year apart from each other (known as Irish twins). During her childhood, she accompanied her grandparents to their church in Green Bay, WI. She feels her grandmother would be the happiest to see her spiritual growth. Before graduating from Evanston Township High School, Ellen lived in Madison, WI; Rochester, NY; State College, PA; and several other places.

Choosing gerontology and senior housing as a career path 40 years ago was a decision that was ahead of its time. At that point, these fields were non-existent industries and Ellen feels rewarded to see how much they have grown since then.

Ellen began working with the Wheaton Franciscans 2 ½ years ago, her first introduction to the sisters. However, she discovered that she had connections with them long before she was born. Every month, new connections with the Wheaton Franciscans come into her life and strengthen her faith, knowing this is where she is meant to be.

Ellen loves to travel and is thrilled to do so again after Covid. She is a loving aunt to her sister’s three awesome kids and has volunteered with the Alzheimer’s Association for over 10 years. Gardening and photography are her favorite hobbies.

“Becoming a Covenant Companion was a choice I made after feeling the presence of the Spirit in my life, bringing me closer to God. The connections I’ve made with the sisters and Covenant Companions have made me feel like I’m part of a family. It’s a place where I can learn, be vulnerable, and experience love and support.”

Nancy Mueller

Nancy grew up in Evanston and Buffalo Grove. Her family consisted of her parents and a younger brother, and sister. She attended Catholic schools through high school and her family attended mass every Sunday. 

Nancy is a retired registered nurse. She received her RN at the College of Lake County, followed by her BSN through Elmhurst College while working. Her career involved some medical/surgical nursing and rehab nursing but primarily focused on psychiatric care for inpatients and outpatients. Nancy’s absolute favorite job was her last position as a community mental health nurse through the DuPage County Health Department. She loved the people she worked with, both patients and staff.

Nancy was married for 47 years. Her husband died suddenly nine years ago. They have two children, a daughter and a son. Nancy’s daughter survived a traumatic brain injury when she was a teenager 43 years ago. She and her daughter volunteer together at Shirley Ryan Rehabilitation Hospital every Friday.  Her son is married and has two adult children (Nancy’s grandson and granddaughter).

Currently residing in Wheaton, Nancy enjoys reading and getting together with friends. Her first connection to the Wheaton Franciscan community came through the Tau Center.

“I chose to become a Covenant Companion when I finally understood that Franciscan prayer, education, and support are exactly what I need to get through my life.” 

Pat Ruggaber

Pat grew up in Maytown, a small farming community about two hours west of Wheaton where family and church were the centers of people’s lives. She is the fifth of six children within a lively, loving, close-knit, and Catholic family.

Pat earned her college degree in elementary education and worked in various aspects of that field, including the classroom, special needs, and religious education.

She has been married to Tom (also a Covenant Companion) for 52 years. They have four children (Joel, Michelle, Erin, and Tim) and  14 grandchildren (7 boys and 7 girls). Pat loves to travel, read, and sing. 

Pat participates in two singing groups: Silvertones, a “just for fun” chorus, and Threshold Choir, a group that sings at bedside for people, especially those facing the end of life. Threshold is a big part of her service commitment and she also serves as a volunteer at her brother’s nursing home.

Pat and Tom became part of the Wheaton Franciscan faith community around 2013 as they were searching for an accepting, joyful, and spiritually uplifting community…and they found it here!

“One of the things that has stayed with me over the course of learning more about the Franciscan Way is that St. Francis saw his role as sharing in the life of love – in short, living the Gospel. I am seeking to nurture my personal spirituality, strengthen my community relationships, and be present to the needs of both.”