Sister Donna Wencel, known as Sister Frederick Mary, was born on a farm near Wayne, Michigan, on December 30, 1928. She was the seventh of nine children born to Frederick and Martha (Klebba) Wencel. Their first-born child, a girl, died at the age of two. In her autobiography, Sister Donna wrote the following about her family:
Our family was poor but rich in love. My parents were always ready to help those who were less fortunate than we were. Many times the walls of our home were stretched to the utmost. I remember when I was in 4th grade, we came home from school and my Mother told my sister and me not to go to our bedroom because we would be sleeping upstairs in the large room with my older sisters. It seems that a family in the area had lost their home due to the husband’s illness and they had nowhere to go so my Mother and Father took the family in. That family consisted of a mother, father and two daughters. They stayed with us for a year and a half.
Read more about Sister Donna (pdf)
Memorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221.
Leave your comments and remembrances (if you don't see the comment box below, click on the "Read More" link).
I grew up knowing Sister Fredrick Mary (Donna Wencle). Her mother and father took my mother (Lucy A. Barry Ryder) in, to comfort her, the day that my grandmother (Lucy A. Kelly Barry) died in 1939. Both families lived on Hix Road in Wayne, Michigan. My mother never got over the loss of her mother. Our families were life long friends. We visited the farm on Hix Road in Wayne Michigan many times. Sister Donna inspired me to be a Dominican nun as I was growing up in Dearborn. My grandmother inspired me to be a nurse. I opted to be a nurse and have a family. I moved my mother to Chicago in 2001 to be near her granddaughter (Theresa / Tara) and 3 great grandchildren (Kyle, Valerie & Natalie). My mom became bedridden November 8, 2016 after an active life. She transitioned on April 3, 2017. I was looking to notify Sister Donna and found that they are already together. We are laying my mother to rest April 18, 2017 at St. Mary's Cemetery in Wayne, MI after her funeral Mass at Sacred Heart in Dearborn. Love you always, Susan (Suellen) Ryder Tobe
Rebecca Boss-BenishMarch 6 at 4:17pmS. Donna had a smile that lit up the room. She was A kind and compassionate lady. I will miss her very much! When you're a caregiver you know that you want to assist your Sister with all that she needs to have the best care for her remaining days. But often people don't think of what the Sisters give back to us I have gained so much knowing S. Donna, she showed me how to be a better person and caregiver.. She showed me by example to be kind, loving and respectful to others! God Bless S. Donna I will visit you again in your rose garden in heaven! Love you! Becca!
Sister Donna was my soul sister, my best friend. She is an extraordinary woman and has left her indomitable spirit on many. Love you, my sweet Donna.
Our Adrian Dominican cemetery with its circular headstones is a beautiful place of rest for women who gave their lives in service to God—and a peaceful place for contemplation and remembrance.
We will post memorial reflections on our faithfully departed Sisters and Associates. If you would like to reflect on a Sister or Associate who has gone before us, please send your reflections – no more than 500 to 600 words – to
We invite you to meet some of the wonderful women who have recently crossed into eternity.