Sister Mary Frances Kobets, Maryknoll Sister for 58 Years Dies

Sister Mary Frances (Fran) Kobets died suddenly on June 29th, 2018 in Gweru, Zimbabwe. She was 76 years old and had been a Maryknoll Sister for 58 years. Fran was born on March 19th, 1942 in Kansas City, Missouri to Dolores (Gardner) Kobets and Godfrey S. Kobets. She had one brother, Thomas. Her parents have predeceased her.

Fran graduated from Loretto Academy in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1959.   She worked as a nurses’ aide at Menorah Hospital in Kansas City until she entered the Maryknoll Sisters Novitiate in Valley Park, Missouri on December 30th, 1959.

At her Reception, she received the religious name Sister M. Frances Assisi. She made her First Profession of Vows in Valley Park, Missouri on August 22nd, 1962 and her Final Vows on June 24th, 1968, also in Valley Park.  From 1962-1963, she attended Maryknoll Teachers College in Maryknoll, New York; while studying she also worked in their Purchasing Department until 1966. Sister Fran, then attended Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas; where she earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture, Economics and Animal Husbandry in 1969. She was one of the first two women to receive this degree at the university.

Sister Fran’s first overseas assignment was to Makoko, Tanzania. She studied the Swahili language and worked at the Ministry of Agriculture Training Institute (MATIN) at Nyegezi in Mwanza; teaching agriculture and animal production from 1970 – 1978.

In 1978, she returned to the United States to attend Kansas State University once again; this time to earn a Masters of Science Degree in Applied Animal Science & Industry in 1980.

Sister Fran was then assigned to Zimbabwe in 1982. There, she taught Agriculture at the Teacher’s College, became Head of their Agriculture Department and Supervisor in their Farm and Production Unit from 1982-1989. Sister Fran spent the next 36 years in Zimbabwe working in various roles such as: agriculture, teaching, and supporting HIV/AIDS orphans. Together with Sister Patricia Startup, M.M. she founded the organization OEAS (Orphans Education and Agriculture Support) in 2001; which focuses on helping HIV/AIDS orphans and children at risk in the areas of Zimbabwe with the greatest needs.

On October 7, 2011 the Department of Agriculture Economics of Kansas State University presented her with The Distinguished Agricultural Economics Alumnus Award.

Sister Fran remained very active in her mission work in Zimbabwe with OEAS up until her death.

A memorial service will be held for Sister Fran at the Maryknoll Sisters Center in NY. Her internment was held in Gweru, Zimbabwe on July 2nd, 2018.