The St. Francis High School family bid farewell to a beloved member of their community when Sister Barbarine Houdek retired at the age of 90 to return to live with the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate in Joliet, Illinois.
For the past 27 years, Sr. Barbarine has served as a pillar of Franciscan spirituality, a loving mentor and a caring friend for the faculty/staff members and thousands of young men who have passed through the doors of St. Francis High School in La Cañada. Hers was considered a steadfast commitment to embodying the Franciscan virtues that also influenced everyone she encountered in the local community. During her long tenure at the school, she has worked as an educator, serving as the librarian and teaching English.
However, Sr. Barbarine’s positive impact has extended well beyond the classroom and library. As a participant and supporter of countless Kairos retreats, morning liturgies, enriching school activities, service trips, pilgrimages, theater productions, and Golden Knight football games, she was known to offer an encouraging presence, a joyful smile and sound advice.
Sr. Barbarine was born on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26, 1925, in Calmar, Iowa. She discovered her vocation as an aspirant while attending high school at St. Francis Academy in Joliet, Illinois. Upon graduating, she became a postulant with the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate and attending the College of St. Francis (now the University of St. Francis) and majored in history. After completing her undergraduate degree and her time as a novice, Sr. Barbarine transitioned into the classroom as a teacher. She completed her master’s degree in theater arts from Northern Illinois University in 1979 and moved to Southern California to work as a religion and theater arts teacher at Notre Dame High School in Riverside. Over the course of the next 10 years, she taught at St. Monica Catholic H.S., Alverno H.S., Our Lady of Corvallis H.S., and Salesian H.S. Desiring to work with the Capuchin Franciscans, Sr. Barbarine accepted the opportunity to work as an English teacher at St. Francis beginning in 1989.