Sister Ingrid Peterson, 84, a Franciscan Sister of the Congregation of Our Lady of Lourdes, Rochester, MN, died at Assisi Heights, June 28, 2020.
Janet Peterson was born July 2, 1935 in Grantsburg, Wisconsin, to Elmer and Mary Grant Peterson. She entered the Sisters of St. Francis in 1955 and made perpetual vows in 1961. Professional studies included a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from the College of St. Teresa, Winona, 1963; Master’s Degree in Speech and Public Address from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1969; and a Ph.D. in English: Medieval and Renaissance Literature from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, 1982.
Sister Ingrid was a primary and secondary education teacher for fourteen years. Upon completing further studies, she served as a college instructor in English: eleven years at the College of St. Teresa, Winona, MN., and one year at Quincy University, Quincy, Il., after which she was an independent Scholar in Residence at Quincy University. From 1992 to 2017, she taught and shared her Franciscan Scholarship as Adjunct Professor at the Franciscan Institute, St. Bonaventure University, New York (1992+); Franciscan Studies staff at the Franciscan Sabbatical Program, Tau Center, Winona (1992-1998); Adjunct Professor, St. Francis College, Altoona, PA (1995+); serving as a Franciscan Scholar and parish volunteer while in residence in Minong, WI (1998-2013); and Adjunct Professor at the Franciscan International Study Centre, Canterbury, England (2002-2005).
Sister Ingrid was a popular presenter and found herself invited to numerous motherhouses, summer professorships, The Franciscan Federation’s Annual Franciscan Conference, coordinating and presenting several sessions at the Kalamazoo Medieval Congress; and organizing “Clarefest 1993” which gathered hundreds of members of the Franciscan family.
Sister Ingrid stated that the most important event in her professional life was to receive, in 2000, the Franciscan Institute Medal which was established in 1987 to honor scholars who have made outstanding contributions to Franciscan Studies in the areas of theology, spirituality, philosophy and history. The Franciscan Institute Publications also published a Festschrift, Her Bright Merits, a collection of essays in her honor (Spirit and Life 17, 2012). When asked how she wanted to be remembered, she replied that she was proud that her scholarly contributions have prompted more interest and research on Saint Clare.
Sister Ingrid’s focus on the study of St. Clare and St. Francis were not just professional commitments, they greatly influenced her prayer and spirituality. St. Clare was a woman who suffered much in her life, and Sister Ingrid found in her a kindred spirit. The deaths of close family members and her own physical ailments (with various treatments, medications and procedures over the years) enabled Sister Ingrid to connect with St. Clare (and with Jesus) and she brought this to her prayer life and to the ways she was able to connect with others.
A new life was born when Sisters Ingrid and Kate Zimmerman began to manage a small retreat / relaxation site for our Community on the shores of Nancy Lake, near Minong, Wisconsin. But these were not “retirement years” for them! They were invested in their individual projects, as well as involved with their Parish Church, Nancy Lake neighbor communities, and enjoying the beauty of northern Wisconsin – a coming home to their rural roots. A good day was one spent picking berries and making some jam, enjoying fresh fish on the screen porch watching the lake, and later enjoying good conversation with friends or family around the fire ring. Sister Ingrid retired to Assisi Heights in 2017.
Throughout her life Sister Ingrid published works of poetry, articles, and book reviews. Several books exist to which she contributed chapters and others she co-authored. She published two books: Clare of Assisi: A Biographical Study and Keeping the Memory Green: Mother Alfred and the Sisters of St. Francis.
Sister Ingrid is survived by her Franciscan Sisters with whom she shared life for sixty-five years, her brother Laurence (Joële) Peterson of San Diego, CA., and nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents and one brother, Gerald Peterson.
A Memorial Liturgy will be held at a later date.