In 1945, the Sisters of the Congregation of St. Agnes would enter into missionary work by going to Nicaragua. The Capuchin Friars had invited the sisters to work with them in a country that was known for its history of instability and oppression. About the same size as Wisconsin, Nicaragua is separated geographically, ethnically, culturally, and religiously between the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. The east coast, where the sisters were missioned, was isolated from the west. The Miskito people lived in eighty villages along the 450-mile Rio Coco and comprised the largest ethnic group where the sisters were missioned.
Because of their isolation, the Miskitos had been able to
retain much of their language and culture, but, because of the isolation
they were very primitive in their education and medical treatments.
Ninety-one sisters volunteered to serve in the country they had to look
up on a map.
Four were chosen as the first missionaries. Sister Mary
Agnes Dickof, a dietitian from Marshfield, WI, Sister Pauletta Scheck, a
teacher from Germany, Sister Francis Borgia Dreiling, a teacher and
organist and Sister Agnes Rita Fisette, a house sister from Marquette,
MI. With good hearts, a modicum of knowledge and not a little
trepidation, the sisters began to prepare for their great adventure.
They began to study Spanish; Sister Mary Agnes received some lessons in
midwifery from a local physician and the four assigned various Saints to look over their travels and supplies they would need.
The Sisters of St. Agnes are still in Nicaragua, ministering in
Education, Health Care and Social Services. They have grown in number in
presence in both the West and East Coasts, with the majority of the
sisters being from native Nicaragua.