IBVM Spotlight: Arnie Rathmann
by: Julie Stapleton, IBVM & Anne Hyzy, IBVM
As Arnie Rathmann tells it, as a child back in the ‘50s, he was brought face-to-face with the Sisters and convent his Aunt Fran joined. His Aunt Fran was Mother Maria Regina Bierer, IBVM, who was then living at the Loretto Wheaton Convent. He remembers the long drive from the city on visiting Sundays, the sighting of the red bricks of the house and Chapel from Butterfield Road and the foreboding St. Michael statue inside the main entrance. This is how Arnie’s long-standing, supportive friendship with the IBVMs began.
A couple decades later, his Aunt Fran, having been assigned to the convent at St. Philomene’s in Sacramento, CA, persuaded her nephew, Arnie, to travel to Sacramento. This he did. But after that, persuasion was no longer needed for him to visit. Meeting the large group of IBVMs serving there over those years, Arnie made life-long friends and even acquired “a sister” he never had with Sr. Jean Frye. It was for Loretto H.S. yearly plays, directed by Sr. Maria Regina, that Arnie filled many roles in preparation for the play and during the performances. An electrician by trade and an experienced scenery and prop enthusiast, he stepped in to assist Sr. Jean where his gifts were needed for the yearly productions.
When the Loretto Galas began in the ‘90s on the beautiful grounds of the Wheaton Convent, Arnie brought his electrician comrades from his workplace to wire the lighting and sound systems for, first one tent, then two, then several more, as the Gala’s patrons grew over the years.
Arnie has so many varied friends, true friends, people he regularly visits, dines with and talks with frequently. As he says, most of these treasured friends he met through his Aunt. Arnie seems to be a magnet for people: his experience, knowledge and interests enrich their conversations. He is an airplane pilot, an electrician, train aficionado, a Chicago loop enthusiast, a dog lover and a Door County expert – to name some of his delights. We, members of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, benefit in so many ways from Arnie’s being a companion of ours (an unofficial Companion). At the Mary Ward House, where Maria lived and died, he repairs, re-wires and installs lighting in the garage, and strings our Christmas lights outside. A list is made and when he visits, he checks off each item needing fixing. Then, we partake in the wonders of conversation while enjoying our dinner.
Arnie has worn many hats (he happens to have a veritable collection of them) in his relationship with the IBVMs, but the biggest hat of all, and it is not an imaginary hat, is the hat of friendship!
Making an Impact
“Arnie Rathmann is one of the most selfless, generous, conscientious men I have ever known. The value of friendship, that developed from all those years of working Loretto Galas with Arnie, cannot be measured. His continued dedication to the Sisters and what they stand for is inspiring.” Andy Wells, IBVM Property Manager