Sister Phyllis Hoffmann, SDS (formerly Sr. Mary George) witnessed seismic changes in both the Catholic Church and her medical imaging profession during her life a Sister of the Divine Savior. Sr. Phyllis died on October 21, 2014 at the age of 85.
Starting in 1951, Sr. Phyllis ministered as the X-ray technologist at Divine Savior Hospital in Portage, Wis., and then as instructor/director of the radiography program at St. Mary’s Hospital and Wausau Hospital, Inc. from 1956 to 1972. She then became the instructor/director of Wausau’s Northcentral Technical Institute, where she helped to initiate an associate degree program in radiologic technology. She taught, supervised and tested student competency at four clinical education agencies affiliated with the program. During an era of rapid technological growth in the medical imaging field, Sr. Phyllis continually upgraded her knowledge and skills to prepare her students for success.
Sr. Phyllis’s long list of professional credentials begins with her diploma from St. Mary’s School of X-Ray Technology in Wausau. In 1956, she graduated from St. Louis University with a bachelor’s degree in radiologic technology, and then earned a master’s in education from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point. She was a longtime member of both the national and state societies of radiologic technologists.
In nominating her for the Wisconsin Vocational Association Award for Professional Excellence, peers and students wrote about Sr. Phyllis, “Her commitment to the education of radiographers goes far beyond what is learned in the textbook. She teaches the ‘art’ of radiography.”
“She has the expertise to instill the technical aspects of the profession and to impart the meaning of patient care.”
“She is effective in her relationship to students, and maintains excellent rapport with faculty, staff and health care agencies.”
Sr. Phyllis felt fortunate to work with medical professionals who had a vision for the future, and the feeling was definitely mutual. A former colleague at Wausau Hospital once said of Sr. Phyllis, “Her quiet commitment, personal high expectations and similar expectations for her students have had a profound influence upon radiologic technology throughout the state.”
Rapid advances in medical technology met their match in changes with the Church and religious life during Sr. Phyllis’ years of active ministry. Through it all, she never lost sight of the Salvatorian mission to make Christ known to all peoples. With strong support from her Salvatorian Sisters’ congregation, Sr. Phyllis always looked for the positive promise in change, saying, “Vatican II asked us to take responsibility for our faith, personal and professional lives. We grew as persons when we had to make choices and accept responsibility.”
Sr. Phyllis was born to Edward and Regina (Richart) Hoffmann on Easter Sunday in 1929 at the family farm in Marathon, Wis., Diocese of La Crosse. She grew up on the dairy farm until age 14, when her family moved to Wausau, Wis. She attended St. Mary’s School and Marathon High School, and later Wausau Senior High School. For a short time, she worked in the dietary department and nursery at St. Mary’s Hospital in Wausau, where she first met the Sisters of the Divine Savior. She entered the SDS congregation at age 15, completed her high school education and attended Divine Savior Junior College in Milwaukee. Sr. Phyllis made first vows in 1946 and final vows in 1952.
After 38 years in the medical imaging field, Sr. Phyllis retired in 1994, but she still had gifts to share with her religious community. She became the assistant coordinator at Salvatorian Heights, an assisted living facility for senior Salvatorian Sisters. With a later move to Salvatorian Sisters Residence on 92nd Street, Sr. Phyllis became a part-time receptionist for the North American Provincial office at the Community House on 100th Street. Then she became the insurance clerk and medical claims secretary for the province, where she efficiently navigated the complex maze of health care insurance. She retired from this ministry in 2013.
Sr. Phyllis was preceded in death by her parents and two sisters, Dorothy (Joseph) Karlen and Rita (Herbert) Gust; a brother, Father Emmett Hoffmann and a brother-in-law Lawrence Mondroski. She is survived by her sister Marilyn Mondroski, many nieces, nephews, grand nieces and nephews as well as her Salvatorian Sisters and the entire Salvatorian Family. Her visitation and Mass of Christian Burial took place in Milwaukee at St. Anne’s Salvatorian Campus Chapel on October 24, and she was buried October 27 at Holy Cross Cemetery in Milwaukee.