Sister M. Dianna Hell, OSF, passed away Saturday, May 6, 2017, at Essentia Health in Fargo.
A prayer service was held on Friday, May 12, 2017 at St. Francis Convent, Hankinson. The Mass of Christian Burial was Saturday, May 13 in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel, St. Francis Convent.
Sister M. Dianna Hell was born October 19, 1934 to Albert and Mary (Schill) Riedhammer, on a farm near Mt. Carmel. She was the youngest of five children. Sister’s parents, knowing before the birth that her mother was dying of cancer, asked close friends, Frank and Anna Hell of Mt. Carmel, to adopt their baby girl when she was just a few months old. Sister Dianna said her birth mother wanted to make sure that her baby was raised by a strong Catholic family. One day at the very early age of four, while playing outside, she felt called to religious life. Her parents nurtured this vocational call giving her a very religious upbringing. She attended school at Mt. Carmel, where the Franciscan Sisters were her teachers and examples. When she was 13 years of age, she was allowed to go to Hankinson, where she attended high school at St. Francis Academy as a candidate for religious life. She was received into the Postulancy in January 1952; the Novitiate in July 1952 and made her profession July 20, 1953. She attended Minot State College and St. Joseph’s Hospital, Minot where she studied medical technology. In 1954, she opened the first laboratory at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Drayton, where she served as the laboratory supervisor for nearly eight years before moving on to St. Gerard’s Community Hospital in Hankinson in 1962. Here she served as lab supervisor for nearly 30 years. She exchanged duties with another technologist for brief periods of time at Cando Memorial Hospital, Cando and Gettysburg Memorial Hospital, Gettysburg, SD. Early in her career, her community requested that she and Sister Clementine become Certified Laboratory Technologists. Because she did not like going to school, she chose to challenge the four year course and did so successfully, completing the course with a near perfect score. On December 31, 1991, St. Gerard’s hospital was closed and Sister was moved to the Oakes Community Hospital. She retired from the lab there in 1994 when she was asked to help bring the Oakes facility into the modern world of computerization, which she did with her normal fervor and dedication. Her duties through her 23 years at the Oakes hospital included Information Technology, Director of Spiritual Services, Mission Coordinator and Executive Assistant to the CEO. During her 41 years in the laboratory profession, she was actively involved in the statewide activities of medical technology. She was a past president of the North Dakota Society of Medical Technology and was its 1978 Member of the Year. She served on the American Society of Medical Technology and also numerous regional committees. She served on the Blood Banking National Board and the Technical Advisory Council of United Blood Services of the Upper Midwest. She served on the Board of Directors for St. Gerard’s Community Hospital and Oakes Community Hospital and was president of the Hospital Auxiliary at St. Gerard’s Community of Care for some years. She served her Franciscan Community as a member of the Provincial Council and on several other committees. Having learned to play piano and organ as a small child, Sister often played for events in her community and served as organist at St. Charles Borromeo parish in Oakes, CHI Oakes Hospital and at St. Francis Convent. Sister was also an Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister in her parish and at the hospital. She served as local Superior for St. Joseph’s Convent, Oakes and St. Gerard’s Convent. She was instrumental in developing the “Healing Garden” on the grounds of CHI Oakes Hospital and was also chosen “Pride of Oakes” award recipient by the Chamber of Commerce. She often said that highlights of her life included her visit to her religious congregation’s motherhouse in Dillingen, Germany, in 2000. She also attended a private Mass and audience with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in Rome, traveled to Assisi, the home of St. Francis, and was privileged to attend the Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II in St. Louis, MO, in 1999.
Sister Dianna is survived by the members of her Franciscan Community; her sister-in-law: Jeanne Riedhammer; nephew: Charles (Erin) Riedhammer; niece: Susie (Quadeer) Hasan; nephew-in-law: Charles Steffes; cousins: Father Damien Schill, Mendota Heights, Minn.; Kenneth (Margaret) Gratton, and their children, Devils Lake; and special friends, Jan and Terry Reynen, Fargo.
Preceding her in death were her parents, Frank and Anna Hell; birth parents Albert and Mary Riedhammer; all of her siblings and one niece.
Services under the direction of Frank Family Funeral Home, Hankinson.