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Obituaries

Mary Ellen Caldwell, BVM (Eugenio)

Mary Ellen Caldwell, BVM (Eugenio) died Tuesday, Aug. 22, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, in the Marian Hall Chapel followed by a prayer service at 11 a.m. Funeral liturgy will be at 1:30 p.m. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.

She was born in Milwaukee on June 11, 1920, to Francis S. and Helen Fitzsimmons Caldwell. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1938, from St. Michael Parish, Milwaukee. She professed first vows on March 19, 1941, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1946.

Sister Mary Ellen taught elementary school in DeKalb and Chicago, Ill.; and Wichita, Kan. She was elementary school principal in Dubuque, where she also served as theology, religious studies, and philosophy teacher and department chair at Clarke University. She taught at a seminary in Kumasi, Ghana, and later volunteered as ESL teacher.

She was preceded in death by her parents; a brother, James Joseph Caldwell; and sisters: Mary Remi Caldwell, BVM; Sarah Marie Tyson; and Frances Mary Kilcollins. She is survived by a sister, Helen Smith, Waukesha, Wis.; brothers, Rev. Thomas A. Caldwell, SJ, Wauwatosa, Wis.; and Joseph Kerwin Caldwell, New York, N.Y.; nieces; nephews; and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 78 years.

Sister Mary Ellen Caldwell, BVM (Eugenio)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, Aug. 28, 2017

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Mary Ellen Caldwell.

Mary Ellen Caldwell entered this world on June 11, 1920, as the eldest of eight children born to Francis and Hellen Fitzsimmons Caldwell of Milwaukee. Her siblings James Joseph, Rose, Helen Margaret, Thomas, Sarah Marie, Joseph Kerwin, and Frances Mary completed the family.

Mary Ellen loved music, especially opera and the classics. For many years, she held season tickets to the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra. She often told the story that in high school, she and her friends would go to the public library, check out operatic music scores and then gather around a piano and sing all the parts. After they saved enough money, they would attend a performance, sitting in the high balcony. Even in her later years, she could still sing the music. Later, while missioned at Mount Carmel Academy in Wichita, Kan., she asked Sister Grace Andrea Carolan, the voice teacher, to join her in the making of a record for her family, which was very popular at that time. She would often quip, “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.”

Mary Ellen graduated from Holy Angels Academy in Milwaukee and entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1938. She received the name Eugenio upon her reception on March 19, 1939, professed her first vows on March 19, 1941, and lived 78 years as a BVM. Her sister Rose entered the congregation in 1941 and received the name Mary Remi. She died on Feb. 21, 2008.

Mary Ellen began her teaching career in the elementary grades. She was missioned at St. Mary in DeKalb, Ill.; St. Vincent in Chicago; Mount Carmel in Wichita, Kan.; and St. Patrick in Dubuque, Iowa, where she also served as superior and principal. However, she will be remembered best for her 25 years in the religious studies department at Clarke University, including 11 years as the department chair. In May 1984, she returned to Dubuque after a year of study in Cambridge, Mass., to discover that she had lost everything in her office and bedroom in the Clarke fire. Through exchange programs, Mary Ellen taught courses at Mundelein College in Chicago, as well as at Loras College, University of Dubuque, and Aquinas Institute of Theology, all in Dubuque. She also facilitated scripture study groups for adults.

As a teacher, Mary Ellen touched lives on three continents. In 1983, she traveled abroad to teach Scripture classes at a secondary school for girls in Matunda, Kenya, as a third world experience. From 1990 to 1992, she taught religion at the St. Hubert Seminary in Kumasi, Ghana, West Africa. “This [experience] has been a time of special grace for me, and I am most grateful for it,” she wrote. “The balance of prayer and community and ministry has brought deep peace. The experience of people with so many dire needs leads me to wonder that I have been so blessed and to want the liberating word of God for all.” In 1993, she embraced the opportunity to teach English as a second language in Hungary. “I worked with women religious whose energies had been engaged in keeping their religious life secret; now they were engaged in learning to live it openly.”

In August 1973, Mary Ellen, Carol Frances Jegen, BVM and Betty Pleas, BVM, along with many priests and other religious, answered the call of Cesar Chavez, co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union, to picket California growers. They were arrested and held in a detention center for two weeks, refusing to accept release until the arrested farm workers were also released.

Mary Ellen commented, “I used to think of the law and justice going together, hand-in-hand. Then I realized that for many people they don’t go together . . . I felt really, utterly helpless. I was not frightened, but I was absolutely incredulous . . . I was angry about the treatments given to hardworking farm workers; they didn’t deserve to be treated as criminals. It was an honor to be with them and special privilege to spend time with Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, who came to California to join us.” Mary Ellen always remembered what Chavez said at a Mass on the night of their release. “We really are not free, just out of jail.”

The approval of the revised BVM Constitutions on Feb. 2, 1989, was a joyous moment for Mary Ellen. She served 13 years on the Constitutions Committee, including one year as the full-time chair, and traveled to Rome for the approbation of the revision. “When Helen Garvey and her Council went to Rome for approval of the document, they didn’t have to take me, but I loved being in Rome again and participating in the dialogue at the Vatican.”

A note from a BVM sister reads, “The committee deserves our gratitude and appreciation for their long years of work. I want to add my own personal note of appreciation for your contribution—your marvelous skill during the meetings and your courage in handling the situation. Your expertise, courage and spiritual depth added so much.”

In 1998, Mary Ellen moved to Mount Carmel, but did not slow down. She taught scripture classes at the Roberta Kuhn Center, privately tutored foreign students in English and, until recently, served as a lector at Mass. In 2005, she participated in the “Forum for Sisters,” an international dialogue among women religious held in Piliscaba, Hungary.

In the past two years, she helped two individuals with sacramental preparation. Via Skype, she instructed a father in Texas, enabling him to be baptized with his son at St. Raphael Cathedral in Dubuque, where he and his wife were married. Earlier this year, she prepared the grandson of a friend and former coworker to receive his first communion in Columbia in the presence of his extended family.

Mary Ellen may have been small in stature, but she had a brilliant mind, a great desire for knowledge, an adventurous spirit ready to face new challenges, and a listening heart—always sensitive to the hardships, hopes and desires of others. Her twinkling eyes and bright smile revealed a zest for life rooted in her deep trust in God. One of her favorite prayers was the Suscipe by St. Ignatius of Loyola. “Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my entire will . . . Give me only your love and your grace; that is enough for me.” Mary Ellen was blessed with many gifts, shared them generously, reaped a bountiful harvest, and returned all to the Lord. Finally, she returned “the very breath that sang [God’s] praise.”* Mary Ellen, we love you and miss you, yet our hearts are joyful knowing that you rest in the loving arms of God. It is enough.

*From “These Alone Are Enough” by Dan Schutte.

If you would like to give a memorial in honor of this Sister click here.


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Mary C. McGovern, BVM (Clemento)

Mary C. McGovern, BVM (Clemento) died Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, at Caritas Center in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–10:15 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, in the Marian Hall Chapel followed by a Sharing of Memories at 10:15 a.m. Funeral liturgy will immediately follow. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.

She was born in Dubuque, Iowa, on June 6, 1920, to Clement and Marjorie McComish McGovern. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1937, from Cathedral Parish, Dubuque. She professed first vows on March 19, 1940, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1945.

Sister Mary was a music teacher and principal in Dubuque, where she also ministered in the Instructional Resource Center at Clarke University and served as congregational volunteer at Mount Carmel. She taught elementary school music in Grayslake, Maywood and Chicago, Ill.; Casper, Wyo.; and Emmetsburg and Sioux City, Iowa.

She was preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by cousins and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 79 years.

Sister Mary C. McGovern, BVM (Clemento)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall Chapel, Aug. 22, 2017

Good morning and welcome to the celebration of the life of our Sister Mary C. McGovern.

Mary Lucille McGovern was born on June 6, 1920, in Dubuque, Iowa, the only child of Clement and Marjorie McComish McGovern. She grew up two blocks from St. Raphael Cathedral and was a proud member of the parish for many years. She graduated from the parish grade school and later St. Joseph Academy.

At a young age, she felt the call to religious life so that “I may love our Lord even more in gratitude for all that He has done for me.” She entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1937, received the name Clemento at her reception on March 19, 1938, and professed her first vows on March 19, 1940. Next month she would have marked her 80th year as a BVM.

Mary spent 30 years teaching music, often in combination with a grade classroom. She was missioned at The Immaculata and St. Jerome in Chicago, St. Gilbert in Grayslake, and St. Eulalia in Maywood, all in Illinois, and at St. Anthony in Casper, Wyo. In Iowa, she ministered at St. Ellen in Emmetsburg, St. Joseph in Sioux City, and St. Raphael Cathedral in Dubuque, where she also served as principal. Mary also worked 12 years in the Instructional Resource Center at Clarke University where her organizational skills were a great help to the students.

Mary was a good, conscientious teacher who loved her students and was attentive to their needs. At St. Raphael, a large number of students lived on the bluffs above the Cathedral and always walked to school. A former student recalled, “If we were sent home ill, she didn’t want us walking up the big hills. She would give us five cents to ride the Fenelon elevator.”

A Salt article about Mary begins “It’s the only child that feels the call to be near as her parents grow older.” Mary was sent to teach at St. Raphael in 1964 because her aging parents lived nearby. After her father shattered his knee in a fall at work, she gradually assumed more and more of the housework. When her father fell again in 1975, Mary moved in with her parents. She was very close to her father. His death a few weeks later was a tremendous loss.

Mary continued to care for her mother who was almost blind by that time. “Living with Mother, we had developed a closeness,” recalled Mary. “She was patient with me. One day she turned and said to me, ‘Honey, you try awfully hard, but you have a lot to learn.’” When her mother became ill in 1984, Mary reluctantly moved her mother to a nursing home. On the Saturday before Mother’s Day, she ate breakfast with her mother and gave her roses. Her mother died later that day, was buried on Tuesday, and the Clarke University fire occurred on Thursday. “I had lots of emotional trauma in the space of a few days,” recalled Mary. She was immensely grateful to the Clarke BVMs for their support during a most difficult time.

In today’s first reading, we hear “See what love God has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.” (1 John 3:1). Mary was a deeply loving person. She received everyone with a warm smile and a profound respect that honored all of God’s children. She was hospitable, friendly and ever sensitive to the needs of others. For many years, she unofficially served in parish ministry in the Cathedral neighborhood where she knew her parents’ neighbors and friends. After retiring in 1988, she volunteered at Marian Hall, taught classes at the Roberta Kuhn Center, and served as a communion minister at Manor Care Nursing Home.

Mary lived at Mount Carmel for 27 years and enjoyed being of service until her memory diminished. “[My] years at Mount Carmel have been the most healing and most peaceful of my religious life,” she wrote. “I truly live with joy and peace in the presence of the Lord. I am grateful to my God, my congregation, and all who have helped me on my journey.” Mary’s BVM sisters, along with her cousins, were treasured family members.

With her deep devotion to our Blessed Mother, it seems appropriate that Mary went home to God on the feast of the Assumption. With gratitude for the wonderful blessing Mary has been to us, we celebrate her entrance into eternal life. Rest in peace, beloved child of God.

If you would like to give a memorial in honor of this Sister click here.


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Mary Terese Rink, BVM (Lumina)

Mary Terese Rink, BVM (Lumina) died Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–10:15 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017, in the Marian Hall Chapel followed by a Sharing of Memories at 10:15 a.m. Funeral liturgy will immediately follow. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.

She was born in Des Moines, Iowa, on Feb. 20, 1929, to Raymond and Mary Hughes Rink. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1951, from St. Matthew Parish, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She professed first vows on March 19, 1954, and final vows on July 16, 1959.

Sister Terese was on the faculty at Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa, and taught postulants and novices at Mount Carmel. She taught secondary school in Memphis, Tenn.; Des Moines, Iowa; and Chicago. At the University of Illinois Medical Center, she served in clerical work, as coordinator for the Disabled Children’s Program, and as case manager.

She was preceded in death by her parents and brother Joseph. She is survived by sisters: Margery Petrzelka (Cedar Rapids); Helen (Bob) Mangrum (Broken Arrow, Okla.); and Katie (John) Cahalan (Austin, Texas); sister-in-law Barbara Rink (Arvada, Colo.); nieces; nephews; and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 65 years.

Sister Mary Terese Rink, BVM (Lumina)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, Aug. 18, 2017

Good morning and welcome to the celebration of life of our sister, Mary Terese Rink.

Terese was born on Feb. 20, 1929, in Des Moines. She was the eldest child of Raymond and Mary Hughes Rink, who met while attending the University of Iowa. Sisters Margery, Helen and Katie and a brother Joseph completed the family. Terese’s mother had a wonderful sense of humor and skillfully managed their home. Her father was a pharmacist who owned his own store and was always ready to help someone in need. Terese graduated from Mount Mercy Academy and Junior College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and earned a bachelor of arts degree in journalism with a minor in social science at the University of Iowa.

Even though Terese did not attend BVM schools, her siblings did and through them, she became acquainted with the BVMs. She entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1951, joining her cousin, Sister Mary Joel Kramer, who had entered in 1939. Terese received the name Sister Mary Lumina upon her reception on March 19, 1952, professed her first vows on March 19, 1954, and lived 65 years as a BVM.

Terese taught English and composition at St. Augustine HS in Memphis, Tenn.; English and journalism at St. Joseph Academy in Des Moines, Iowa; and English at Immaculata high school in Chicago. As a member of the faculty at Clarke University, she taught rhetoric and composition, literature and history to postulants and novices at Mount Carmel. After TOPA (Totally Open Placement Application) went into effect, Terese chose to teach in the Chicago public school system. She became well acquainted with the “unhealthier neighborhoods” in the town as she commuted to work on public transit. Still, Terese wrote, “TOPA . . . was one of the major influences in my life . . . Even if the neighborhoods lacked much, the people I met made up for this.”

For 24 years, Terese worked for the Division of Specialized Care for Children at the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago. She began with clerical responsibilities and eventually became a case manager for children with severe physical problems. “Here I truly met the People of God,” she wrote. “These were the poor, the marginalized, the overlooked and underestimated, Moslems, Jews, all Christian denominations, Hindus, atheists, and agnostics.” Terese served as the program coordinator from 1982 to 1990. Afterwards, she returned to case management, retiring 12 years later.

Quiet, gentle, sensitive and gracious—all describe Terese. Her subtle sense of humor was a delight and, at times, she could even be a bit of a tease. She was intelligent, curious and an avid reader. She enjoyed writing letters, having conversations with her BVM sisters, and especially walking. She combined her love of family and history to create an ancestral history book, a wonderful gift to her family for whom she was immensely grateful.

Terese was a behind-the-scenes person. She had strong opinions regarding politics and the community, but thought and spoke with a depth and a precision that did not draw attention to herself. Still, her hard work was noticed—being “lumina,” (a light) for young sisters on their first teaching assignments, sharing her journalistic talent in BVM publications, tutoring poor children at Wright Hall, sorting and folding clothing at the Dubuque Rescue Mission.

In the Gospel (John 14:1-6) chosen by Terese, Jesus says, “There are many rooms in my Father’s house . . . I am going now to prepare a place for you . . . [and] I shall return to take you with me.”

Terese lived in Chicago for 44 years, the last 26 years at Wright Hall until it closed in 2011. In a Salt article about the closing, she commented, “New surroundings do not automatically fit us. Often, it takes time and shifting: a little push here, a tug there. But eventually our bodies and spirits relax. We are home.” Last Sunday, Terese’s familiar surroundings no longer “fit.” Then Jesus came, her body relaxed and her spirit followed him home. Rest in peace, our dear loved one, sister and friend.

If you would like to give a memorial in honor of this Sister click here.


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Helen Maher Garvey, BVM (Robert Joseph)

Helen Maher Garvey, BVM (Robert Joseph) died Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in the Motherhouse Chapel, followed by a prayer service at 11 a.m. Funeral liturgy will be at 1:30 p.m. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.

She was born in Hempstead, N.Y., on Jan. 17, 1935, to Clarence and Ruth Maher Garvey. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1952, from St. Martha Parish, Uniondale, N.Y. She professed first vows on March 19, 1955, and final vows on July 16, 1960.

From 1976–92, Sister Helen served on the BVM congregation’s leadership team. Also during that time, she was elected president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). She was organizational consultant and director of the Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America exhibit. She served on the board of the National Catholic Reporter. In earlier ministries, Sister Helen taught elementary school in Chicago and Antioch, Ill.; Fort Dodge, Iowa; and West Hempstead, N.Y. She was principal in Bellerose and Hempstead, N.Y. She served as director of pastoral services for the Diocese of Lexington, Ky. She ministered as facilitator for various religious communities and was active in many congregational committees.

She was preceded in death by her parents; brothers Thomas and Robert; and a sister, Eugenia Garvey, OSU. She is survived by brothers Joseph (Warwick, N.Y.) and Eugene (Tinton Falls, N.J.); sisters Therese Fox (Brecksville, Ohio) and Kathleen (James Kearnz) Garvey (Warwick, N.Y.); sister-in-law Pat Garvey, East Marion, N.Y.; nieces; nephews; and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 65 years.

Sister Helen Maher Garvey, BVM (Robert Joseph)
Funeral Welcome
Motherhouse, Aug. 17, 2017

The BVM community, those present here and those with us on livevideo streaming, welcome Helen’s family, Archbishop Jackels, members of religious congregations, representatives of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and the National Catholic Reporter (NCR)—friends all.

We gather at this liturgy to celebrate the life of Helen Maher Garvey and commend her to our loving God. For us, Helen was a mentor, a confidante, a companion, a leader, and a dearfriend.

Helen was born on Jan. 17, 1935, in Hempstead, N.Y., and she never completely lost her beloved New York accent. She was the sixth of eight children born to Clarence and Ruth Maher Garvey. Mary, who entered the Ursuline congregation, Thomas and Robert preceded her in death. Therese, Joseph, Eugene and Kathleen are with us today. In writing about her family, Helen expressed it this way: “I recognize a wholesome, large family atmosphere where I was loved. A religious tone permeated a lively existence.” Stories of family life that we heard earlier today bear this out.

Helen entered the BVM congregation in September 1952, and she was given the name Sister Mary Robert Joseph. After first vows in 1955, Helen ministered in elementary schools as a teacher and later a principal in the states of Illinois, Iowa and New York.

For 16 years, Helen served in leadership in the BVM congregation, as vice president and then president. Consultation, collaboration and consensus building characterized her leadership style. She did this with patience, optimism and a sense of humor. As we look back to those years, we know that Helen used her gifts to remind us of the beauty and goodness of religious life—as our way of being united with the Spirit andfacing the challenges and opportunities of our time. She shared her wisdom and her love.

Helen’s talents were recognized beyond the BVM community as she was elected to the presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. In this role, Helen welcomed Pope John Paul II when he visited the United States in 1987, and she boldly kissed him as sign of her love for the church.

Helen received the Outstanding Leadership Award from LCWR in 2009. The citation included these words: A woman who knows who she is, where she stands, and what she believes.

Article 82 of the BVM Constitutions states: “Our elected leaders bear a special responsibility to facilitate, encourage and inspire Gospel living within the congregation, and to extend our BVM presence and voice into the broader church and civic community.” Helen lived this role as many religious congregations called on her for guidance and assistance. In striving to deepen the sense of church for all members, Helen worked as Director of Pastoral Services in Lexington, Ky., and as a board member for the National Catholic Reporter (NCR).

Helen loved literature, history, politics and stories. We shared many of our favorites this morning and over the dinner table today. Some we hold deep in our hearts. Helen was responsible for telling the nation the story of women religious as she chaired the LCWR project producing the exhibit, “Women and Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America.”

At one of the planning meetings, the group became discouraged and Helen declared that they could not continue the project; it was too difficult. A consultant assisting the group heard this and said: “Why are you afraid of a little exhibit when your foremothers, with little or no money, crossed the ocean, navigated rivers, learned a new language, nursed in the Civil War, raised money and built schools and hospitals?” Upon hearing this, Helen gathered her courage and determination and said, “Yes, we will do this.” The exhibit, telling a remarkable story, went forth and was splendidly received.

Recently Helen had a conversation with a friend, reminiscing about many stories. Helen repeated the quote, “God lurks in our stories.” (Lurk: to be hidden but capable of being discovered.) God lurked and was ever present in Helen’s life, in her leadership and her love for family, community, friends and us. In her kindness and her writings, she led us to know the loving God who is always present with us and among us. We are grateful for her life with us and commend her to a loving God.

If you would like to give a memorial in honor of this Sister click here.


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Patricia Ann Perko, BVM (Vincent de Paul)

Patricia Ann Perko, BVM (Vincent de Paul) died Wednesday, July 12, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation of the cremated remains will be from 9–10:15 a.m. on Tuesday, July 25, in the Marian Hall Chapel followed by a Sharing of Memories at 10:15 a.m. Funeral liturgy will immediately follow. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.

She was born in Butte, Mont., on Sept. 11, 1934, to Michael F. and Rose Evelyn Cunningham Perko. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1954, from St. Joseph Parish, Butte. She professed first vows on March 19, 1957, and final vows on July 16, 1962.

Sister Pat taught elementary school in Missoula, Mont.; Omaha, Neb.; Seattle; and San Francisco. She was learning center teacher in Seattle and N. Hollywood, Calif., where she was also learning center director. She served as school secretary and learning center coordinator in Butte, where she also ministered as nurse aide and in home health care. She was coordinator of religious education in San Francisco.

She was preceded in death by her parents and sister Mary Dresden. She is survived by her brother Michael (Elaine) Perko, Tucson, Ariz.; nieces; nephews; and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 62 years.

Sister Patricia Ann Perko, BVM (Vincent de Paul)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, July 25, 2017

Good morning and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Patricia Ann Perko.

Patricia Ann was born in Butte, Mont., on Sept. 11, 1934. She was the first child of Michael and Rose Evelyn Cunningham Perko. A brother Michael and a sister Mary completed the family. Pat loved her hometown and never forgot her roots. She knew everything about Butte and maintained relationships formed there for the rest of her life. Both of her parents were born there as well. Her father, a railway clerk, was a member of the first graduating class at St. Joseph Grade School. Sister M. Gervase Tuffy, BVM signed his school diploma.

Pat also attended St. Joseph Grade School, graduated from Girls Central High School, and completed one year at Saint Mary College in Xavier, Kan., before answering the call to religious life. She entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1954, and received the name Vincent de Paul upon her reception on March 19, 1955. She professed first vows on March 19, 1957, and lived 62 years as a BVM.

After profession, Pat was sent to study at the Scholasticate in Chicago. Her ministry in elementary education led to missions at St. Anthony and St. Joseph in Missoula, Mont.; St. Bridget in Omaha, Neb.; St. John in Seattle; and All Souls in San Francisco. She also worked in learning centers at St. John and at St. Charles in North Hollywood, Calif., where she later served as the director. She was the coordinator of the learning center at Central Junior High and a secretary at South Central School, both in Butte. She also ministered as the religious education coordinator at St. Francis Parish in San Francisco and as a leader for the RCIA and RENEW programs in her parish in Butte.

Pat was intelligent, hardworking and conscientious. Her levelheadedness, patience and flexibility put her at ease in any situation while her nonjudgmental acceptance and support of others helped her relate to people of all ages. She benefited from these qualities when she ministered as a nurse aide and home care provider in Butte for 12 years. Caregiving truly was her greatest ministry. Here at Mount Carmel, sewing was another talent that Pat graciously shared by mending clothes for other residents.

Pat was observant and pensive, quiet and unassuming, preferring to gather information before making a decision or even commenting. Yet, at an unexpected moment, she delighted others with a delicious sense of humor. She enjoyed organizing events, from vacations and family visits to Montana cluster meetings to a combined celebration for her golden jubilee and 70th birthday. After moving to Mount Carmel, she welcomed any new arrivals from Montana and members of her set and arranged gatherings for both groups.

In Pat, there was an intimate depth of knowing God. Many years ago, she embraced creation spirituality and discovered her true self. Those who ventured into relationship with her found a deeply spiritual woman and a font of wisdom.

Her golden jubilee booklet included quotes from Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen: “All of creation is a symphony of joy and jubilation . . . God has arranged all things in the world in consideration of everything else . . . Everything in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth, is penetrated with connectedness, is penetrated in relatedness.” Hildegard draws us into the joy and jubilation that all creatures celebrate together, echoing the command in Psalm 148 for all creation to “Praise God.”

Pat “loved [Wisdom] more than health or beauty, and chose to have her rather than light” (Wisdom 7:10) and along the journey found peace. When asked if she was afraid of dying, she simply replied, “No, I am entering into the cosmos.” Pat was a gentle soul, a true treasure, and a great blessing to us all.

Click here to read wake stories.

If you would like to give a memorial in honor of this Sister click here.


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Harriet Holles, BVM (Agneda)

Harriet Holles, BVM (Agneda) died Saturday, June 17, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Wake will be from 9–11 a.m. on Wednesday, June 21, in the Marian Hall Chapel followed by a prayer service at 11 a.m. Funeral liturgy will be at 1:30 p.m. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.

She was born in Ladysmith, Wis., on March 23, 1933, to Harry and Agnes Fandel Holles. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1953, from St. Walter Parish, Roselle, Ill. She professed first vows on March 19, 1956, and final vows on July 16, 1961.

Sister Harriet taught elementary school in Seattle and Clinton, Iowa; and ninth grade in Glendale, Calif. She was a college math teacher in Chicago; Dubuque, Iowa; and Conception, Mo. She served as director of religious education in Springfield, Mo., and in spiritual formation on the college level in Conception, Mo. She was also a self-employed spiritual director.

She was preceded in death by her parents and sisters Alice Laura Holles and Geraldine Helen Holles. She is survived by nieces and nephews and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 63 years.

Sister Harriet Holles, BVM (Agneda)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, June 21, 2017

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Harriet Holles.

Harriet Ann Holles was born on March 23, 1933, in Ladysmith, Wis., on her maternal grandparents’ farm. She was the first of three daughters of Harry and Agnes Fandel Holles and was followed by sisters Alice and Geraldine. Geraldine died at the age of 18 in a car-train collision; Alice died in 1991. Harriet’s father worked as a waiter in Chicago hotels where he met many celebrities and delighted in talking about his encounters. Her mother, who the oldest of nine children, began at an early age to help raise her siblings and do household tasks. Harry and Agnes met when she moved to Chicago to work as a maid for wealthy families. Agnes was a woman of deep faith and only agreed to marry Harry, a Lutheran, if he converted to Catholicism. Together they created a home where faith was foremost.

Harriet attended Catholic schools, but it was only after meeting the BVMs at Mundelein College that she considered a religious vocation. Two years later, on Sept. 8, 1953, Harriet entered the congregation. She received the name Agneda upon her reception on March 19, 1954, professed first vows on March 19, 1956, and lived 63 years as a BVM. “Religious life has been a vibrant and growth-filled choice for me,” she remarked during her golden jubilee. “I am thankful for the wonderful companions and the multitudinous opportunities. It is with a full and grateful heart that I celebrate vowed living.”

Harriet began her teaching ministry with elementary students at St. John in Seattle and St. Mary in Clinton, Iowa, and secondary students at Holy Family in Glendale, Calif. However, for most of her professional life, she taught mathematics to post-secondary students at Mundelein College, Clarke University, and Loras College.

After Vatican II, Harriet felt drawn to learn more about spirituality, especially prayer. While waiting for a study grant, she spent one year in parish ministry at St. Joseph Parish in Springfield, Mo. “It was providential that I waited,” Harriet said. “I taught adult theology classes, I worked in liturgy, I brought communion to people in their homes, I visited the hospitals . . . all things I had never done before. It was a wonderful preparation.” She completed a theological studies certification at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif., and later she earned a master’s degree in Christian Spirituality from Creighton University in Omaha, Neb.

In 1967, after reading about retreats directed by small groups of sisters at a time when preached retreats by priests were prevalent, Harriet, along with Sister Barbara Kutchera, BVM (George Mary), invited four additional BVMs to share in this renewal experiment. Together they designed and implemented a retreat at Clarke University, with then chaplain Father James Barta joining the group for daily Mass and a reconciliation service. Afterward, the participants continued as a prayer group with the four living members, including Harriet, last meeting this past March.

Harriet created many prayer services for the BVM congregation through the years. After the BVM Constitutions were approved, she gave retreats on them from Chicago to Dubuque to Fort Dodge, Iowa, and offered sessions to novices. “For the ongoing formation of BVM opportunities, guidance, affirmation and companions, I am so very grateful,” commented Harriet. She also served on retreat teams at the Jesuit Retreat House in Oshkosh, Wis., as well for other women religious groups and gave several retreats at the Centre for Spiritual Renewal in Kumasi, Ghana.

Her work as a spiritual guide eventually led her to Conception Seminary College in Conception, Mo., where she combined her talents as a math instructor and a spiritual advisor. A seminary yearbook dedicated to Harriet praises her as “a person who has enriched our lives in the subtle mysteries of God, the Church, mathematics, and, most especially, ourselves in our walk with the Lord . . . Sister Harriet is one of these special ones who has gifted our community with her love, humor, concern, and her unique gift of the feminine perspective.”

Harriet continued to combine mathematics and spirituality for the next 20 years at Clarke University and Loras College. She excelled in creativity, innovation and depth in her teaching and presentations in both disciplines. In “retirement,” Harriet made herself available as a spirituality resource person and taught spirituality classes at the Roberta Kuhn Center where she presented the “New Universe Story” developed from her lifetime of learning.

Harriet was an ardent reader and a serious thinker, as was evident in her well-marked copy of the BVM Constitutions. Numerous tabs marked significant passages of underlined text and notes filled the margins, sometimes including a “YES!” all in capital letters with an exclamation point when she wholeheartedly agreed. Her copy was literally falling apart from her intense study.

While Harriet appreciated good films and theater productions and visiting places of interest, her relationships with a wide range of people were central in her life. She enjoyed offering hospitality, preparing delicious meals, and relishing in good conversation. It was her positive interaction with lay women and men that, in her words, “kept me off the streets!”

However, her most treasured relationship was with God. “God has done incredible things in me,” Harriet commented. “I continue to be astonished at how a fearful child born on a cold day in a Wisconsin farmhouse has grown in wisdom and grace, as well as age.”

St. Paul wrote, “For God who said, Let light shine out of darkness, has shone in [Harriet’s] heart to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ.” Filled with this knowledge, she guided many into a deeper relationship with their God. She has blessed us with her presence, her gifts and her humor for which we are deeply grateful. With joyful hearts, we celebrate that Harriet is now “gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord.”

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Frances Dolan, BVM (Franciscus)

Frances Dolan, BVM (Franciscus) died Thursday, May 18, 2017, at Caritas Center in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation/wake will be from 9–10:15 a.m. on Tuesday, May 23, in the Marian Hall Chapel followed by a Sharing of Memories at 10:15 a.m. Funeral liturgy will be at 11 a.m. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.

She was born in Chicago on Nov. 10, 1916, to Fred and Frances M. Temske Dolan. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1935, from St. Alphonsus Parish, Chicago. She professed first vows on March 19, 1938, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1943.

Sister Frances taught music in elementary and secondary schools in Pasadena, Glendale, San Francisco, and Santa Barbara, Calif.; St. Louis, Mo.; Milwaukee, Wis.; and Mundelein, Ill. In Chicago, she taught music at Mundelein College, was associate professor of music at Loyola University, and served as music/liturgy coordinator at Wright Hall, a BVM residence.

She was preceded in death by her parents and sister Cecelia Finnegan. She is survived by a cousin and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 81 years.

Sister Frances Dolan, BVM (Franciscus)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, May 23, 2017

Good morning and welcome to the celebration of life of Sister Frances Dolan.

Frances always liked the familiar Taize hymn, “Jesus Remember Me.” Although it is a hymn frequently associated with Good Friday services, it seems appropriate for this celebration of Fran’s life. How could our loving Creator not remember Frances Dolan, born in Chicago on Nov. 10, 1916, to her Irish father and dear German mother, Frederic and Frances Temske Dolan, joining her older sister, Cecilia.

Frances’ musical talents were nurtured by her mother, who insisted that she practice, practice, practice . . . even when Fran would rather have been doing something else. It was from her mother that Fran learned compassion for the poor, unconditional love, and grew in a healthy sense of self-confidence. Her mother had enough confidence in her youngest daughter to trust she could learn to drive long before her little legs could even reach the pedals. One of Frances’ favorite prayers was, “My Mother, my confidence.” Perhaps this prayer had as much to do with her mother’s confidence in Frances as it had to do with Frances’ confidence in her own mother, which overflowed to Mary.

By the time Frances entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1935, her mother had died, leaving a deep wound in Frances’ young heart and possibly creating in her the great sensitivity she felt for those who suffer the pain and sorrows of life. Frances received the name Franciscus upon her reception on March 19, 1936, and professed first vows on March 19, 1938, living 81 years as a BVM.

After her profession, Fran began her lifelong ministry as a talented and dedicated music teacher. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, Paul says, “I have done my best in the race.” She certainly did her best wherever she ministered. Her music ministry first took her to Mount Carmel in Wichita, Kan., then on to California to teach at St. Philip in Pasadena, Holy Family in Glendale, St. Paul HS in San Francisco and Bishop Garcia Diego HS in Santa Barbara. In addition, she was missioned at Xavier HS in St. Louis, Holy Angels Academy in Milwaukee and Carmel HS in Mundelein. Later she was a music instructor at Mundelein College and Loyola University, and a liturgical music coordinator at Wright Hall, all in Chicago.

Not only did Fran teach music, she also sewed costumes, constructed stage sets, planned the choreography, rehearsed with lead singers and chorus lines, patiently taught individual piano and voice lessons, gave numerous lecture-recitals, served as liturgist and even helped build a five octave concert Flemish harpsichord from a do-it-yourself kit! No wonder Fran thought it was time to leave this life, having run the full distance and kept the faith.

Among Fran’s few remaining possessions is a beautiful batik fabric from Ghana. It reads:

 Some people come into our lives and quickly go.

Others stay for a while and leave footprints on our hearts.

And our lives will never, ever be the same again.

 Many of us here in this chapel, as well as her faithful students and friends, know that Fran has left her footprints on our hearts and our lives will never be the same. We remember her as an intelligent, sensitive, talented, charitable and gracious woman, who poured herself out for others. She had a good sense of humor and accepted everyone as they were. She was kind but did not make a big show of her good deeds. She worried about us and about our hurting world. She wanted us all to be happy. For all this, a great reward awaits her!

During this celebration, we will sing, “We remember how you loved us to your death, and still we celebrate, for you are with us here.” Those words are not only true of our relationship with Jesus Christ, but they are fitting words for all of us who have had the privilege and joy of knowing and loving and being loved by Fran.

Fran loved Mary Frances Clarke and read and prayed from the retreat book, Walking the Beatitudes, compiled by Sister Mary Frances Reis. Fran would say, “Mary Frances Clarke was some special lady! Her words were so direct and honest. She called a spade a spade. Sometimes I just have to laugh aloud at what she had to say. Other times I say, ‘You’re right on!’” One of the passages that Frances had underlined in the book was a prayer which can give comfort and hope to us this morning and in the days to come:

Mary Frances Clarke, and all you holy BVMs, associates, friends and saints in heaven. Walk with us.

Fran, we know that Jesus has not only remembered you, but has brought you into the fullness of Light and Love. We remember you with love and trust that you will always remember us until we meet again to sing the praises of our God in perfect harmony.

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Carmelina Meyers, BVM

Carmelina Meyers, BVM died Thursday, May 11, 2017, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–10:15 a.m. on Tuesday, May 16, in the Marian Hall Chapel, followed by a Sharing of Memories at 10:15 a.m. Funeral liturgy will be at 11 a.m. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.

She was born in Evanston, Ill., on Jan. 29, 1926, to James Peter and Catherine Johanna Wiltgen Meyers. She entered the BVM congregation Feb. 2, 1942, from St. Margaret Mary Parish, Chicago. She professed first vows on Aug. 15, 1944, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1949.

Sister Carmelina taught elementary school in Hempstead and Bellerose, N.Y.; and in Maywood and Grayslake, Ill. In Chicago, she taught elementary and secondary school and served in high school campus/youth ministry.

She was preceded in death by her parents, sister Beatrice L. Kalmes, and brother James F. Meyers. She is survived by a sister Patricia J. Krase, Northbrook, Ill.; nieces; nephews; and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 75 years.

Sister Carmelina Meyers, BVM
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, May 16, 2017

Good morning and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Carmelina Meyers.

As two disciples walked on the road to Emmaus, Jesus approached and entered into their conversation. After recognizing Jesus in the breaking of the bread, they said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” For the two disciples, it was “all in the journey.” So too for Carmelina.

The earthly journey for Catherine Frances Meyers, known as Frances by her family, began on Jan. 29, 1926, in Evanston, Ill., as the firstborn child of James and Catherine Wiltgen Meyers. Two sisters, Patricia and Beatrice, and a brother James later joined the family. Frances remembered her father, a janitor and landscaper, as a very generous man, one who never passed a handicapped person without making an offering. Her mother, who worked at the parish rectory as a cook, was an outstanding baker. “Mom was an example of real faithfulness to all of us,” commented Frances. “Every day after work, she traveled to the nursing home to say the rosary with my grandmother who suffered from dementia.” While both of Frances’ parents were born in Illinois, their families originated in Luxembourg. She was very proud of her Luxembourg roots.

In her early years, Frances remembers longing to be in first grade. She recalls crying copiously as she watched the other children going off to school from her kitchen window. Apparently, the tears continued long and hard enough that her mother took her to school. After much consternation, the first grade teacher, who had an extra desk, said she would accept Frances. “I thought I was in heaven,” she remembered.

Before she finished fifth grade, Frances knew she wanted to be a sister and a teacher. This desire deepened in eighth grade. She remembers her teacher as “a strong, dynamic woman who influenced me in many ways. What was most obvious to me was her love for Jesus. Her class was alive; Jesus was real. [Jesus] made me think of the Pied Piper—he loved everyone and everyone tagged along with him. I could see myself mesmerized and tagging along too.”

Frances met the BVMs as a student at Immaculata HS in Chicago and knew she wanted to be one. “I loved it there,” she said during an interview, “there was such a friendly spirit between the sisters and the girls.” She left Immaculata after the first semester of her junior year to enter the congregation on Feb. 2, 1942. “I have never regretted that decision,” she wrote, “thanking God every day for his love, his grace, his forgiveness, my BVM community, my family and all those God has sent into my life.” She received the name Carmelina upon her reception on Aug. 15, 1942, professed first vows on Aug. 15, 1944, and lived 75 years as a BVM.

Carmelina was an elementary teacher for 45 years. She was missioned in Illinois at St. Dorothy and St. Ferdinand in Chicago, St. Eulalia in Maywood, and St. Gilbert in Grayslake; and in New York at Our Lady of Loretto in Hempstead, and St. Gregory the Great in Bellerose. Carmelina recalled that at Our Lady of Loretto there was no common lunchroom, so the children ate in the homeroom with eighth grade student monitors. The lunch girl for her room was Helen Maher Garvey!

It was at St. Gregory the Great that some of Carm’s most cherished memories were made. At the beginning, life there was very interesting because the school and convent were in the process of being finished. In the meantime, the sisters shuttled classes around from church halls to the vestibule and even outdoors. It was both a challenging and a fun experience that forged deep bonds between the teachers and the students.

For 27 years, Carmelina taught junior high students at St. Ferdinand in Chicago. With the encouragement of the pastor, she completed a two-year program at the Liturgical Institute of Chicago, laying the foundation for her service as campus minister at Madonna HS, also in Chicago. There she planned liturgies, prepared students for the sacraments and organized retreats while teaching morality and social justice classes. “The students were ethnically diverse and so interesting,” she recalled.

After retiring in Chicago, Carmelina volunteered at Ten Thousand Villages, a fair trade shop featuring handcrafted articles from developing countries. She also did cross-stitch and painted birdhouses, which she donated to fundraising events. After she moved to Mount Carmel in 2009, she became a member of the BVM “Cut-Ups,” who make birthday and seasonal decorations for dining room tables, residents’ doors, and bulletin boards. In addition, she sewed old T-shirts into diapers for babies in Madagascar. A newspaper article described Carmelina as chuckling as she pinned fabric upon fabric while commenting, “This [diaper] will keep their little butts dry.” Carmelina also took classes at the Roberta Kuhn Center and continued to enjoy cross-stitch. Several of her creations brighten the guest rooms in the BVM Center. “Retirement also gives me extra time to pray,” she shared. Of course, she enjoyed keeping in touch with family and friends.

“It’s all in the journey” was the way Carmelina approached life. “I feel I’ve been very blessed and I’m grateful for all the gifts I’ve received. At those rare times when things seemed dark, a new dimension of spirituality often opened up for me. I’ve lived with, laughed with, and been supported by many wonderful people. Being a BVM is one of my most cherished gifts.”

With her earthy journey finished, Carmelina embarked on one final journey—the journey to her heavenly home to meet her constant companion, Jesus, face-to-face.

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Mary Kelliher, BVM (Maurita)

Mary Kelliher, BVM (Maurita) died Friday, April 14, 2017, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Natural Burial Rite of Committal was Saturday, April 15, 2017, in the Marian Hall Chapel. Sharing of Memories and Memorial Mass will be held on Thursday, April 20 at 10:45 a.m. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.

She was born in Casper, Wyo. on July 22, 1927, to Maurice and Mary E. Mahoney Kelliher. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1948, from St. Anthony Parish, Casper. She professed first vows on March 19, 1951, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1956.

Sister Mary taught elementary and secondary school in Des Moines and Council Bluffs, Iowa; Lincoln, Neb.; Butte, Mont.; Chicago; and Petaluma, Calif. She was religious education coordinator in Denver, Colo., and Gillette, Wyo. She served in parish ministry in Green River, Wyo., and in Hispanic ministry in Casper, Wyo.; Kankakee, Ill.; and Solola, Guatemala.

She was preceded in death by her parents and sister Rosaleen Webster. She is survived by sisters Rita Rochelle and Patricia Tripeny, both of Casper, Wyo.; nieces; nephews; and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 68 years.

Sister Mary Kelliher, BVM (Maurita)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, April 20, 2017

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Mary Kelliher.

Mary Theresa Kelliher entered this world on July 22, 1927, in Casper, Wyo., as the third child of Maurice and Mary E. Mahoney Kelliher. She joined her sisters Rita and Rosaleen and was followed by her sister Patricia. Mary’s mother emigrated from County Cork, Ireland, and became a registered nurse in Chicago. Mary described her as “down to earth” and “stoically unsentimental.” “She had a good heart, but she didn’t like to show it,” said Mary. Her father emigrated from County Kerry, Ireland, and was the fire chief. “My dad, well his head was in the clouds,” commented Mary. “My dad loved socializing . . . I enjoy the traits of both my parents.”

Mary’s family moved to Wyoming, where she attended St. Anthony ES, which was staffed by BVMs. “Since the fifth grade I was very ‘holy,’” she commented. “I was a devil at home and an angel at school. I always wanted to be like the sisters. My father thought they were wonderful women. [He] had a very profound respect for them and I believe that they really did influence me.” Mary attended a public high school and worked as a nurse aide during World War II. After high school, she studied Latin at Clarke University for three years until the call to religious life compelled her to enter the congregation on Sept. 8, 1948. She received the name Maurita upon her reception on March 19, 1949, professed her first vows on March 19, 1951, and lived 68 years as a BVM.

Mary taught at St. Mary in Lincoln, Neb.; St. Joseph and St. John in Butte, Mont.; St. Cornelius in Chicago; St. Vincent in Petaluma, Calif.; St. Joseph Academy in Des Moines, Iowa; and St. Francis Xavier in Council Bluffs, Iowa. She entered parish ministry, teaching religious education at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Denver, Colo., and was the coordinator of religious education at St. Matthew Parish in Gillette, Wyo. She also worked in parish ministry at Immaculate Conception Parish in Green River, Wyo.

Mary’s appreciation for Spanish and Mexican culture coupled with an increasing Hispanic population, compelled her to learn Spanish. In 1993, she began a Hispanic ministry volunteering in Casper, Wyo., and later in Kankakee, Ill. Through a BVM Ministry Grant, she traveled to San Andrés Semetebaj, Guatemala, where she taught the Hermanas Misioneras de la Eucharistia (Missionary Sisters of the Eucharist). The purpose of this religious community, comprised of indigenous women, was to bring the Word of God and the Eucharist to small villages in remote areas.

In her memoir, Mary recounts the trepidation she experienced as she arrived in Guatemala. “Fear, the right kind of fear, can easily turn to trust. My trust is in God; Her presence cushions my being. I felt Her with me, “your hand will guide me.” Yet fear swept over me as it does with every new beginning. My beginnings were merely in location, because my vocation has remained dually as Christ’s friend and as teacher.” Years later Mary would recall: “[I was] fueled with hope to impact the future missions of these indigenous women religious as they would pass on Christ’s love.”

After returning to the United States, she taught ESL (English as a Second Language) classes at Kankakee Community College and volunteered in Hispanic ministry at St. Theresa Parish in Kankakee. While at St. Theresa, Mary worked in a food and clothing center and helped to establish “The Mothers’ Cooperativa” where Hispanic mothers took turns providing childcare so other mothers could take English classes.

Members of Mary’s BVM community in Kankakee remember her “as one of the most generous, hospitable and caring persons they had ever lived with,” commenting that “there was never enough that Mary could do for you, serve you, or inconvenience herself on your behalf. Sometimes even to the point of annoyance! She would offer you 17 choices of drinks and snacks and with each ‘no response,’ she would elicit a whole new list of offers.” They also noted her amazing interest in and ability to retain trivia; she would come out with the funniest data. One time she read that if you soak raisins in gin and refrigerate them, eating seven a day would ease arthritis. One day when the refrigerator was crowded and others objected to a big quart jar with only three raisins in it, Mary took the jar and said, “Oh, okay, I’ll overdose.”

While Mary may have experienced internal fears when confronting new situations, those who watched her observed what appeared to be total fearlessness. Her limited Spanish was never an excuse for not getting involved with the most complicated situations in which Hispanics found themselves. If she didn’t know how to proceed, she would go to the ends of the earth to find out the best solution. It didn’t matter what time the phone rang, she was ready to offer her Spanish and compassion to those who sought her assistance. She was always cheerful and positive in her ministry and presence.

When Mary retired in 2008, she chose to live in Chicago because it was easier for her and her family in Wyoming to visit each other. After the sale of Wright Hall, she moved to Mount Carmel, commenting, “Home is the place where they take you in because they know and love you and you know and love them.”

Mary, St. Paul’s message to the Ephesians reminds us that Christ was alive in your heart through faith; planted in love and you built on that love. You knew and loved your family, your sisters, all those God placed in your life, and all in God’s creation. Now with all the saints you are filled with the utter fullness of God. Indeed, you have been called home to a place where they take you because they know and love you. In this Easter season, we celebrate you in your own poetic words.”

The circle of love a horizon unfurled
A sky rimmed with trunks and branches of black
stretching into filigreed twigs against blue.
And ahead in the west appeared a patch of different hue:
A stately yellow willow came into view.
Now, O my soul, isn’t that a graceful transition . . .
Maundy Thursday to Good Friday and thence to Easter.
Mary, your daughter rejoices. Your Son, my brother, is alive!

(From Walk Around the Block, Maundy Thursday, 2008)

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Therese Fox, BVM (Rita Maurice)

Therese Fox, BVM (Rita Maurice) died Tuesday, April 11, 2017, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 18, 2017, in the Marian Hall Chapel followed by a sharing of memories at 10:30 a.m. Funeral liturgy will be at 11 a.m. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.

She was born in Chicago on June 17, 1930, to Maurice and Margaret Daly Fox. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1952, from St. Dorothy Parish, Chicago. She professed first vows on March 19, 1955, and final vows on July 16, 1960.

Sister Therese taught elementary school in Grayslake and Chicago, Ill.; Hempstead, N.Y.; Waterloo and Dubuque, Iowa; and Kansas City, Mo. Also in Chicago, she served as elementary school principal and counselor.

She was preceded in death by her parents and brothers: Thomas Daly, Maurice S., William P., and John Robert. She is survived by sisters-in-law Audrey Fox, Oak Lawn, Ill.; Lorraine Fox, Long Beach, Ind.; and Therese Garvey Fox, Broadview Heights, Ohio; nieces, nephews and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 64 years.

Sister Therese Fox, BVM (Rita Maurice)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, April 18, 2017

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Therese Fox.

Margaret Therese Fox entered this world on June 17, 1930, as the only daughter of Maurice and Margaret Daly Fox of Chicago. She joined brothers Thomas, Maurice and William and was followed by John. Her Irish parents had a strong Catholic faith and made the family their top priority. Her father had a family heating and air conditioning business. After he died from a heart attack at age 55, her mother continued the family business and was the first woman to sign a union contract. Therese was very devoted to her family, all of whom preceded her in death. We can only image the great joy at their heavenly reunion.

Therese commented that one of the greatest challenges in her life was her health. Diagnosed with scoliosis at age 13, Therese underwent surgery and was in a body cast for some time afterwards. She missed a year of school and had to relearn how to walk. Spinal issues continued off and on throughout her life, but she never viewed them as a handicap. While in her mid-30s, she suffered a stroke that left numbness on her right side. Much later, Sister Jean Ward, BVM, whom Therese described as a “most influential” person in her life, remarked, “although Therese has suffered from back trouble for many years, this has never interfered with her activities—she has learned to live with inconvenience in a beautiful manner.”

After graduating from Holy Cross ES and Loretta Academy, Therese planned to attend Clarke University. Grief over her father’s death, combined with homesickness, cast a shadow over what should have been an exciting time. Yet Therese persevered and graduated from Clarke with a bachelor’s degree in food and nutrition and a minor in science. Her interest in food was not purely professional. Therese was a very fine cook, loved to entertain, and would host gatherings where everyone had a wonderful time enjoying a delectable meal.

During an interview, Therese commented, “As a girl there were two things I never wanted to be: a teacher and a nun.” Obviously, her view changed over time. She entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1953, received the name Rita Maurice upon her reception on March 19, 1953, professed her first vows on March 19, 1955, and lived 64 years as a BVM.

After four months at St. Mary High School in Chicago, Therese spent the next 19 years teaching junior high. She was missioned at St. Gilbert in Grayslake, Ill.; Our Lady of Loretto in Hempstead, N.Y.; St. Charles in Chicago; Our Lady of Victory in Waterloo, Iowa; St. Patrick in Dubuque, Iowa; and St. Catherine in Kansas City, Mo. She also served as principal at Our Lady of Lourdes in Chicago, where faculty described her leadership style, observing that “she made clear what her expectations of people were, and although they were very high expectations, they were never unattainable.” They emphasized that Therese had “very special qualities for bringing out the best in people, touching people in such a way as they were changed for having known her,” and always encouraging them to live life to the fullest.

Therese worked briefly as an educational researcher for The Immaculata HS, followed by an extended period of renewal at the St. Clare House of Prayer. Afterward, she ministered as an elementary school counselor at Our Lady of Angels, St. Ita and St. Constance, and later as a counselor for the Project REACH Program at St. Mary of the Lake ES, all in Chicago. Reflecting on her gifts as a counselor, a colleague stated: “Therese always acted with integrity, backed with good common sense and deep religious values. She created an atmosphere of love and trust among students, faculty, and staff.”

Therese remained in Chicago for five years after retiring until her move to the BVM Circle Apartments in 2001 and the Motherhouse in 2010. In recent years, she enjoyed card-making classes at the Roberta Kuhn Center. During last year’s end-of-year celebration, the class traveled to Otto’s Place in Galena, Ill., but only after verifying it was wheelchair accessible so that Therese could join them. Together they enjoyed a long afternoon of conversation and food. When mobility issues made attendance too difficult, she donated her personal card-making materials for the rest of the class to enjoy.

St. Paul wrote, “[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” Therese was a loving person deeply committed to her work and her Lord. Despite her health issues, she remained cheerful and willingly accepted challenging assignments. She made time for reflection and prayer a priority and continued to grow deeper in her love of God and community as she carried each burden. With deep gratitude and love, we rejoice for and with Therese. She is now truly free and where she has longed to be—in the loving arms of her God.

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Therese J. Jacobs, BVM (Therese Carmelle)

Therese J. Jacobs, BVM (Therese Carmelle) died Thursday, April 6, 2017, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Wednesday, April 12, 2017, in the Marian Hall Chapel followed by a prayer service at 11 a.m. Funeral liturgy will be at 1:30 p.m. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.

She was born in Des Moines, Iowa, on May 9, 1929, to Harry Franklin and Mary Josephine Mullahey Jacobs. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1947, from St. Mary Parish, Clinton, Iowa. She professed first vows on March 19, 1950, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1955.

Sister Therese taught music in elementary and secondary schools in Cascade and Davenport, Iowa; Kauai, Hawaii; Chicago and Mundelein, Ill; and St. Paul, Minn. She served as BVM regional in Davenport, and as formation director in Dubuque. She ministered on the college faculty and formation staff in Los Gatos, Calif. She served in pastoral ministry in Des Moines, Iowa; Jackson, Miss.; and Kumasi, Ghana.

She was preceded in death by her parents; brothers: Richard, Edwin, Bernard, Donald, Earl and John Paul; and sisters Mary Ellen Clark and Bernice Ann Iliff. She is survived by a brother, Francis J. Jacobs, St. Paul, Minn.; a brother-in-law, Stewart Iliff, Warrenton, Mo.; a sister-in-law, Marion Jacobs, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; nieces; nephews; and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 69 years.

Sister Therese J. Jacobs, BVM (Therese Carmelle)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, Wednesday April 12, 2017

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Therese J Jacobs.

Therese Josephine Jacobs entered this world on May 9, 1929, in Des Moines, Iowa, as the daughter of Harry and Mary (Mullahey) Jacobs. Her father’s first wife died, leaving three sons. He later married Therese’s mother and together had four more boys and three girls. After Therese was born, the family moved to Clinton, Iowa. Although they lived in several residences, the family always belonged to St. Mary Parish, where Therese also attended school. Therese had a very active childhood filled with parish and school activities, piano lessons, Girls Scouts, hospital volunteering, and even gardening.

The main family recreation, however, was playing cards. Therese believed that she picked up her card sense by watching her parents play cards with another couple. The family also enjoyed following the vicissitudes of the Chicago Cubs. In her autobiography, she wrote, “We had very little material wealth, but were blessed with the presence and goodness [of our parents] . . . I was given the foundation of love and identity which have enabled me to establish healthy relationships and good friends.”

Therese entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1947, received the name Therese Carmelle upon her reception on March 19, 1948, professed first vows on March 19, 1950, and lived 70 years as a BVM. On her profession day, Sister Clarice Hannaher, BVM gave Therese a medal of Thérèse of Lisieux with the following quote: “I want to love Jesus and to win Jesus’ love.” These words have motivated Therese to live a life full of gratitude and joy for all of God’s blessings.

Commenting about her 18 years of teaching music, Therese said, “I loved teaching elementary school music . . . Students loved a break from daily subjects so music was fun.” Therese was missioned in Iowa at St. Martin in Cascade and St. Paul in Davenport; in Hawaii at St. Catherine in Kauai; in Illinois at St. Gertrude in Chicago and Carmel Catholic HS in Mundelein; and in Minnesota at Our Lady of Peace in St. Paul. About her mission to Hawaii, Therese wrote, “[The] cultural diversity was a great richness in my life and gave me a breadth of understanding and experience that I have always treasured.”

Therese also served as a teacher and member of the formation team at Guadalupe College in Los Gatos, Calif., and as formation director at the Motherhouse. “It was a special gift to accompany women in their novitiate process of faith and deepened acceptance of themselves and God’s call and presence in their lives,” she commented. As a regional, Therese found herself involved with the sisters’ lives in very significant ways. “I was able to be a companion, elicit confidence and trust, and to be faithful to these women during stressful times as well as times of celebration.” Her experiences as formation director and regional coupled with encouragement from several friends helped Therese discern her next ministry.

In 1980, Therese earned a master’s degree in spiritual direction. “The studies were exciting . . . and energizing,” she wrote. “The real challenge came in owning my own strengths, personality and goodness and to believe in God’s fidelity and steadfastness even when I did not feel very faithful . . .” She subsequently served as a pastoral minister at Holy Trinity in Des Moines, and St. Richard in Jackson, Miss. While at Holy Trinity, she became a member of the Iowa Inter-Church Forum and served on the 1986 Iowa Pastor’s Conference planning committee. A friend from Holy Trinity wrote, “Let me acknowledge the important influence of [a] cherished BVM friend and mentor, Sister Therese Jacobs. We were on the RCIA team [together] . . . During this time I experienced a deep life-changing re-conversion . . . More than 30 years have passed and I value her support and friendship.”

During the summer of 1989, Therese traveled to the Centre of Spiritual Renewal in Kumasi, Ghana, where the faith of the people touched her deeply. “They are believers,” she wrote, “without God nothing would exist. I found their prayers full of praise, gratitude, dependence, trust, and joy—most of all, an attitude of praise and confidence.” She returned to Ghana in 2001 and spent the next nine years ministering there. A year after Therese left Ghana, a sign of her impact remained as the Easter liturgy was filled with a song she had taught the people.

For more than two decades, Therese enthusiastically encouraged the practice of centering prayer by training leaders and leading groups in Mississippi, Ghana and at Mount Carmel since her return to Dubuque. She led directed retreats and served as spiritual director to a countless number of individuals. “[My] ministries have allowed me into sacred places with others,” she commented. “My years were rich in seeing God’s action . . . and [the] power of healing and reconciliation in [people’s] lives. . . I know wherever I minister I will find God.”

In the area of social justice, Therese’s dedication and fearless initiative is evident in her numerous letters to newspapers and politicians in which she advocated for the disenfranchised and promoted the common good. She also was involved with Habitat for Humanity and visited women in correctional facilities. Therese was deeply honored to give the invocation before President Obama’s speech during his visit to Dubuque in 2012. “As I prepared the prayer I was very conscious of the desire to praise God for the gifts of life, freedom and faith.”

As a good listener with insight and keen sensitivity, Therese had the ability to relate easily and tenderly with others. Her gentle, kind spirit exuded warmth and wholeness. Someone recently commented, “She was a friend to everybody.”

In the Gospel, we hear Jesus say, “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.” Our deceased Sister Margaret O’Shea once complimented Therese, saying that she helped her realize that it is possible to carry out the Gospel and love everyone.

Therese has asked to be remembered as “a deeply spiritual woman, extremely grateful for a consistent sense of God’s personal care for her, for the riches of family, community and friends and for the wonder and beauty of creation.”

Truly, she was a gift to us all.

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