Sister Agnesine Heinsch is one of seven Sisters of the Incarnate Word Blessed Sacrament living in the Convent on the campus of Blessed Sacrament Academy. For 58 years, she has served God as a member of the Congregation–first as a teacher at various schools in South Texas and later as Treasurer for the BSA school office and the Convent here in San Antonio. As an individual, Sister Agnesine is full of life, encouragement and music. The large garden she cultivated for many years behind the Convent is now a playground enjoyed by children attending the Child Development Center, but she still has her green thumb. Sister Agnesine will also go fishing whenever possible.
Sister Agnesine is a native of San Antonio, whose German immigrant father and mother spoke German, English and Spanish at home. “I first became acquainted with the IWBS Sisters when I attended St. Leo’s Elementary School. I then went on to Blessed Sacrament Academy High School, where I entered ninth grade a year early, graduating in 1946,” said Sister Agnesine. “I always thought well of the Sisters who taught me. I admired them and felt they were kind and knowledgeable. Sister Joseph was head of school and she had come from Newfoundland.” The school was all girls at that time and classes were held in the only building on campus–the four-story Convent building which today also houses the administrative offices. She describes the school as “about sixty students in total with only 16 in my graduation class.” The high school building was being built in 1946 and opened in ’47, and today serves as Por Vida Academy Charter High School.
Another high school reminisce was about the Jones family whose four daughters and widowed mother all joined the IWBS Sisters at the same time. All of the Jones Sisters were musically inclined and were responsible for bringing many awards and accolades back from choir regional and state competitions. Sister Dorothy Jones was the primary piano teacher for Agnesine during her high school years.
It wasn’t until nine years after graduation, that Agnesine joined the convent. “During those nine years I was a stenographer at several businesses and Kelly AFB, all the while giving a great deal of thought to joining the IWBS Sisters,” Sister Agnesine remembers. “I finally acknowledged God was calling me to serve and went to Victoria Convent to begin my life as a nun.”
After entering the order, she attended the University of Incarnate Word graduating with a teaching degree. She taught all subjects in grades 1-7, plus music, choir and piano. Her assignments subsequently included Our Lady of Victory in Victoria, schools in Crosby and Ganado in South Texas and St. Leo’s and St. Johns in San Antonio. After a break of about eight years to care for her aging mother, Sister Agnesine became treasurer for the Convent. This new job introduced her to a computer accounting program. Slightly reticent at first, Sister Agnesine is now a big fan of computer programs for crunching numbers.
Stephanie Lozano has known Sister Agnesine for more than twenty years. Currently a Parent Educator for the Parents’ Academy and Faith Development Teacher at the Child Development Center, Stephanie took piano lessons from Sister Agnesine when she was in high school. “I feel like I’ve known Sister my whole life,” Stephanie said. “She is and has always been a kind, welcoming presence at BSA.”
What a blessing to begin one morning last week with Sister Agnesine playing Chopin on the piano. If you are so inclined, you can go to Mission San Jose and hear her playing quite beautifully for the weekly congregation’s 5:30pm Saturday Mass.