Assisi Heights is an expansive and beautiful place. In 2014, the Congregation owned and maintained over 100 acres of property and a substantially large main building. Furthermore, it hired 103 lay employees to work in the nursing, cleaning, cooking, facilities, and grounds staff. When seeing all that the Congregation owns and maintains, the natural question is: How do they pay for it all?

Sister Marlene is an expert in this area. As the Treasurer of the Congregation, she is the administrator of the following departments: HR, facilities, investments, insurance, and finance. She explained that, throughout the years, the source of money has shifted in response to changes in the Congregation.

In the past, their main source of money was the Sisters’ salaries. As a reflection of their vow of poverty, the Sisters have never kept any of their salaries. Instead, the money is donated to the Congregation. Sister Marlene recalls that when she taught at a university, she received the same salary as any faculty member in the same position; however, instead of keeping this money, she had it automatically deposited to the Congregation. She would then receive a check every month from the Congregation, which she used to pay for rent, food, gas for her car, and other necessities. At one point, there were Sisters who received significant salaries, such as one Sister who was a Canon lawyer. Therefore, with so many Sisters bringing in substantial salaries, the Congregation was not only able to pay their expenses, but also invest for the future.

"It also enriches the community to have a variety of people here." -Sister Marlene

In 2014, there were significantly fewer working Sisters; therefore, Assisi Heights relied more on their investments and fundraising. Furthermore, they have rented out space to various groups, such as Honors Choir of Southeast Minnesota, Choral Arts, Catholic charities for the diocese, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Various groups also have held their retreats at Assisi Heights, and therefore, rent out empty bedrooms temporarily; it is not uncommon for the Mayo Clinic to rent out two floors of conference rooms and office spaces. Sister Marlene explained that these tenants do financially help the Congregation; however, “it also enriches the community to have a variety of people here.”1 One organization that Sister Marlene mentioned was one that the Sisters wanted to support, and therefore, offered space free of charge. This organization, called Bundles of Love, is a group of women who sew clothing for infants and then create packages full of baby necessities, which are delivered to women living in the Rochester area who cannot afford such items.

Another money-maker is the Assisi Heights gift store, comprised of two small rooms. Sister Marlene explained that the store is for the Sisters to purchase cards or gifts for various events. The bookstore also provides religious books to the Sisters, which they read in order to enhance their spiritual lives. On the other hand, it is also a place for the Sisters to sell items. One particular Sister is a beekeeper and makes products from her honey, such as lip balm, and sells these items in the gift store. Others sell their needlework, knit work, and other craft items.


  1. Sister Marlene Pinzka, interview by Nami Sumida, Assisi Heights, June 9, 2014.