Sister Kristin Wombacher, a Dominican Sister of San Rafael, died peacefully at Our Lady of Lourdes Convent on November 10 after a lengthy illness.
Joan Wombacher was born and raised in southern California, the youngest of five children. After graduating from St. Andrew's High School in Pasadena and Mount St. Mary's College in Los Angeles, she joined the same community of women religious to which her older sister, Sister Bernadette, belonged.
Sister Kristin was a high school teacher in Monterey and San Francisco for six years before she attended St. Louis University to obtain a Ph.D. in psychology. She was employed at Napa State Hospital, where she had interned, as a clinical psychologist for twelve years. During this same period of her life, Sister Kristin consulted for other religious congregations, and had a counseling practice for individuals and groups, lectured and offered workshops around the world. She also served as president of the western regional group of the national organization, Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).
Sister Kristin was elected to two terms as Prioress General of her congregation from 1985-1997. Her tenure was marked by dramatic challenges: the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 that significantly damaged St. Rose Academy in San Francisco, a school in which the Sisters had ministered since 1862; a fire in San Rafael in 1990 that significantly damaged the Victorial-style motherhouse that had been built in 1889; and the building of an new administrative center and two convents in San Rafael.
Following a one year sabbatical, Sister Kristin began a ministry that was very special to her. She was the director of a home for women who wanted to leave the life of prostitution in San Francisco to have better options for themselves and their children.
Sister Kristin is survived by her brothers, Les and his wife, Jean, and Bill Wombacher, her sister, Sister Bernadette Wombacher, OP, her niece Bobbie Caruso, her nephew Jerry Wombacher, seven grand-nieces and nephews, two great-grand nephews, and by her Dominican Sisters.
A vigil will be held at the Dominican Sisters Center, 1520 Grand Avenue in San Rafael on Tuesday, November 27 at 7:30 p.m. The funeral Mass, also at the Sisters Center, will take place on Wednesday, November 28 at 11:00 a.m. Burial will follow at St. Dominic Cemetery in Benicia.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, Development Office, 1520 Grand Avenue, San Rafael California, 94901.
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Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Nov. 25, 2012