Cover photo for Sister Luella Zollar, SSND's Obituary
Sister Luella Zollar, SSND Profile Photo

Sister Luella Zollar, SSND

June 21, 1925 — January 10, 2022

Sister Luella Zollar, SSND

"That all may have life to the full.” John 10:10

Sister Luella Zollar, SSND, 96, died at 6:15 a.m. on Monday, January 10, 2022, in Notre Dame Health Care, Good Counsel Hill, Mankato, Minnesota. Over the past few weeks she had experienced a gradual decline in health. Sisters from Notre Dame Hall were praying with her in the days preceding her death.

Funeral services include a Prayer of Remembrance at 9:00 a.m. and a Funeral Liturgy at 10:30 a.m., with Father Joe Fogal as presider, on Tuesday, January 25, in Our Lady of Good Counsel Chapel. Burial will follow in the Good Counsel Cemetery. We extend our sympathy to Sister Luella’s sisters, Helen Schmitt and Joyce Bischof, her brother, Jerry, her nieces and nephews and their families, her friends, colleagues and former students, and her sisters in community, the School Sisters of Notre Dame and SSND Associates. She was preceded in death by her parents, Louis and Annie (Eshanko) Zollar, her sisters, Sister Roselle, SSND, and Florence Johnson, and her brothers Lawrence and Dan. Sister Luella, the oldest of eight children, was born June 21, 1925, in Wilton, North Dakota, and baptized Louise Eleanore the next day at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Wilton. Her father, Louis, was from northern Minnesota and was a Soo Line depot agent. Her mother came with her family from Ukraine and settled in Wilton, North Dakota. The Zollar family moved first to Falkirk, then to Baldwin and to Benedict, all in North Dakota, where Louis pursued depot agent positions. When Louise was in seventh grade, the position opened in Grenville, South Dakota. Louis bid for the job because Grenville’s St. Joseph parish had a Catholic grade and high school taught by the School Sisters of Notre Dame. The Zollar parents wanted their children to have a Catholic education. Sister Luella described her family faith life: “My parents influenced me by their good example. When we children were small, my mother would have us kneel by her and she would have us repeat short prayers after her. We prayed the rosary every evening after supper. Any friends who came over also prayed with us.” Her parents also took the family on picnics and on fishing excursions – and occasionally to Bismarck for the circus or a movie. Music was an important aspect of family life as well. The older children took music lessons and their parents would accompany them on violin and accordion. Louise completed grade school and high school at St. Joseph School. When the sisters left for Mankato for a few weeks during the summer, she played the organ for the parish. St. Joseph was a Polish parish, and Sister Luella later commented, “Of course all the hymns were in Polish. We learned to read it, but didn’t understand most of the words. The melodies were beautiful.” While in high school, Louise prayed for direction in choosing a vocation. As a senior, she thought about religious life, having been influenced by the example of her teachers. After graduation, she talked to her parents about it. Her mother thought she should wait a year, but her father suggested that she try it, and if she didn’t like it, she could come home. Plans were made and, in August 1943, she left by train for Mankato. She wrote, “I had never visited Good Counsel or seen a candidate before I came.” Louise’s first year in the candidature was spent taking college classes to prepare for teaching. As a second-year candidate, she taught at St. John Cantius School in Wilno, Minnesota. She was received into the novitiate in 1945 and given the name Sister M. Luella. After she professed first vows in 1946, she returned to Wilno for another year. In 1947, she and three other sisters traveled by truck from Wilno to Eden, South Dakota, to reopen Sacred Heart School, which had been closed for 15 years. The sisters rode in the back of the truck with the furniture and had a tarp over their heads. Sister Luella remembered, “Sitting, we enjoyed our hours-long ride. When we were near our destination, we began brushing each other off as we were so covered with dust we could print our initials on our veils.” Sister Luella remained in Eden until 1951, when she moved to St. Adalbert Parish and School in Silver Lake, Minnesota, where her Grenville Polish experience repeated itself. She wrote, “I played organ for Polish High Masses every day and sang with the children, even though I could hardly understand a word I was singing.” After six years in Silver Lake, Sister Luella returned to Grenville for two years, and then completed her Catholic School ministry with one year at St. Wenceslaus, Dickinson, North Dakota. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Mount Mary College, Milwaukee, in 1959, and later earned masters’ certificates in Confraternity of Christian Doctrine Apostolate (CCD) from St. Scholastica College, Duluth, and Marquette University, Milwaukee. In the 1960s a continuing trend in religious education was to establish area catechetical schools, staffed by full-time teachers who either traveled to where students were located or taught students in the school building. In 1960, Sister Luella and Sister Esther Boor began working first at Christ the King Catechetical School in Medford, Minnesota, where they stayed until 1966, and then at St. Theresa Catechetical School in Mapleton. In 1969, Immaculate Conception Catholic School in Forsyth, Montana, closed and became a catechetical center. Sisters Luella and Esther responded to the invitation to staff the center, sight unseen. In addition to conducting classes at Forsyth, they traveled to five other Montana communities, Rosebud, Sumatra, Hysham, Custer and Colstrip, and met with students after the regular school day. In 1973, the two sisters moved to Baker, Montana, where they continued their religious education ministry. The religious education center served the communities of Wibaux, Ekalaka and Plevnar, in addition to Baker. The sisters’ schedule included Mondays and Tuesdays at Wibaux, where grades 1-5 came for instruction after school on Monday and 6-8 on Tuesday. High school students were taught Tuesday evenings. Sisters traveled to Plevnar on Wednesdays. Thursdays were dedicated to Baker and Ekalaka, with the elementary grades coming after school and high school students in the evening. Lay teachers assisted the sisters with the instruction. The sisters also were active in parish ministry during this time. Sister Luella summed up her experiences: “I taught for 51 years and also had First Communion classes in most places. As a teacher, I challenged hundreds of students to become responsible citizens and leaders in society. Through my parish ministry, I touched the lives of countless people by visiting the sick and elderly, distributing Holy Communion, playing the organ, giving piano lessons, and preparing children for First Confession and First Holy Communion.” Sister Esther retired in 1992; Sister Roseanne Eggert and later Sister Carol Illa joined Sister Luella in her final years in Baker. When Sister Luella left Baker, parishioners created a video of photos that showed the many ways Sister Luella touched their lives in her 23 years of service there. Sister Luella left Baker in 1996 and moved to Eden Valley, Minnesota, where she helped care for her mother until 2002. At that time, Sister Luella wrote that she “came full-circle, returning to Good Counsel Convent, this lovely place where my religious life began.” She gave community service in a variety of ways including the operation of the Hill Gift Shop. She and Sister Roselle enlivened community celebrations with their accordion renditions. Family members made frequent trips to visit their sisters at Good Counsel, something very much appreciated. Sister Luella’s funeral liturgy theme, “That all may have life to the full,” aptly described her earthly life. May she now be celebrating the fullness of eternal life with the God whom she served so well in this life.

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Past Services

Mass of Christian Burial

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Starts at 10:30 am (Central time)

Our Lady of Good Counsel Chapel

170 Good Counsel Dr, Mankato, MN 56001

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