Sister Pauline Feiner’s childhood years on a farm in Spring Green, Wisconsin. included early education in a one-room school house. As the tenth child of Amelia and Frank Feiner’s 12 children, she knew well the give-and-take needed to live in community by the time she entered the Sisters of the Divine Savior.
Pauline came to Milwaukee in 1952 to attend Divine Savior Convent High School. She took the religious name Mary Neil and professed vows in 1957. Sr. Pauline attended Marquette University and later received a master’s degree in Theology from St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. Her early years ministering as a Salvatorian were as a teacher or principal in Catholic grade schools in Wisconsin, Maryland and Minnesota.
For more than 20 years, Sr. Pauline served as director of religious education for several parishes. In all her parish-based work over the years, she has embraced the privilege of pastoral care ministry. She also shared her gift for leadership with the SDS province as a Provincial Team member and coordinator for Salvatorian Heights, the former home for retired Salvatorian Sisters in Milwaukee. Serving in formation ministry, Sr. Pauline has accompanied our temporarily professed members in their vocation discernment.
Sr. Pauline cherishes many fond memories from 10 years serving two Wisconsin parishes in the Diocese of Green Bay. In 2003, she was installed as parish director for St. Denis in Shiocton and St. Patrick in Stephensville. Just a week later she met with both parish councils and hosted a Confirmation. On any given day she could be overseeing budgets, visiting the sick, or preparing engaged couples for marriage. Sr. Pauline says the people of those two close-knit communities were friendly, hardworking, and loved their parishes.
In Shiocton, she helped launch the St. Denis Cabbage Chuck, an annual fundraiser that attracts hundreds of people from the area known as cabbage country. She also witnessed the annual sturgeon spawning on the Wolf River, a phenomenon that draws hundreds of tourists to the village of less than 1,000 people. Then there was St. Patrick’s annual “Round Up” when Sr. Pauline rode a horse in the parade down the main street of unincorporated Stephensville.
Sr. Pauline also recalls, “Sometimes people would come to my door with fresh bakery, fresh fish, or garden produce, and ask for a prayer for a family member or friend.” When she stepped down from full-time ministry several years ago, Sr. Pauline moved on to provide part-time pastoral care at St. Rose in Clintonville and St. Mary’s in Bear Creek, Wisconsin. She attends to the odds and ends of the parishes and primarily ministers to the elderly and sick. Still in a rural setting where she feels most at home, Sr. Pauline continues to find fulfillment in parish ministry. She says, “The parish is the place where our faith is shared, nurtured and celebrated.”