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Frances Eileen Dunne, BVM

Frances Eileen Dunne, BVM died Thursday, May 26, 2016,at Caritas Center in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Tuesday, May 31, 2016, 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 Chicago on Feb. 22, 1925, to Patrick and Nora Buckley Dunne. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1943, from St. Peter Canisius Parish, Chicago. She professed first vows on March 19, 1946, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1951.

Frances Eileen taught elementary school and was vice principal in Dubuque and Fort Dodge, Iowa; Lead, S.D.; and Chicago and Maywood, Ill., where she also served as school secretary/treasurer.

She was preceded in death by her parents; sisters Patrice Norine Dunne, BVM and Catherine Collins; and brothers: Joseph, John, Patrick, James and Gerald. She is survived by sister-in-law Mary Therese Lazowski, Addison, Ill.; nieces; nephews; and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with whom she shared life for 72 years.

Sister Frances Eileen Dunne, BVM
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, May 31, 2016

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Frances Eileen Dunne.

On Feb. 22, 1925, Cecilia Dunne joined the Patrick Dunne and Nora Buckley family of Chicago, as the youngest of eight children. Her parents were both born in Ireland. Her father was a policeman who died from a bleeding ulcer when Cecilia was in first grade. Her mother was a prayerful woman who often brought vigil lights home from church in order to clean them. Cecilia’s brother Jeremiah died during the 1918 flu epidemic. Her sister Mary entered the BVMs when Cecilia was six and received the name Sister Mary Patrice Norine in honor of her parents. She died April 25, 2000.

Cecilia’s call to religious life seems to have come early. During an interview, she said, “When I was in eighth grade, I worked in a delicatessen; sometimes I ran the place. A young man who worked in the tavern next door said, ‘I’ll wait for you.’ I said, ‘You can wait till doomsday!’” She was one of nine girls from St. Mary HS in Chicago who entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1943. All nine remained in the community. Cecilia received the name Frances Eileen upon her reception on March 19, 1944, professed her first vows on March 19, 1946, and lived 72 years as a BVM.

Frances Eileen was an elementary school teacher for 53 years. She was missioned at St. Jerome, St. Charles and St. Vincent in Chicago; Corpus Christi in Fort Dodge, Iowa; St. Patrick in Lead, S.D.; St. Patrick in Dubuque, Iowa; and St. Eulalia in Maywood, Ill. She commented, “Though I taught grades two, three and four, I liked second the best. So enthusiastic, they could run the class for you.” In 1976, she went to St. Eulalia ES in Maywood and remained there for 29 years. During that time she served as secretary, treasurer, vice principal and special education teacher, which she said kept her “young and on my toes.” Both the children and the teachers loved her. She worked diligently to get the struggling children up to grade level and frequently took on extra tasks to ease the load of other teachers. She retired in 2002, moved to Wright Hall in 2005, and then to Mount Carmel in 2008, about which she commented, “They are marvelous here. I have no complaints.”

St. Paul wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all.” Frances Eileen was a quiet, gentle soul, always kind, pleasant and welcoming. She was very easygoing and unassuming, putting others ahead of herself. If a favor was needed, she would generously offer her help. To people who really came to know her, she would open up and reveal a keen sense of humor in the form of one-liners delivered with a twinkling eye and a playful smile. Most people would never guess that she had an adventurous streak, agreeing to tour a gold mine near Lead, wearing a jumpsuit and a hard hat. She had a special fondness for dogs and was thrilled to own one while living in Maywood. Frances Eileen enjoyed everyone; she simply enjoyed life.

Perhaps our feelings today as we celebrate Frances Eileen’s entrance into eternal life could be best summarized by the pastor of St. Eulalia Church who wrote the following message for her farewell celebration: “Saying ‘Good-bye’ is not always easy—such is the experience today as we all gather to celebrate the many ways our sister, Sister Frances Eileen, has loved us and ministered to us . . . Many have been blessed by her wisdom through the years. All of us who know Sister have cherished her gentle ways of calling us to life and encouraging us to carry on in tough times . . . We must celebrate our joy in knowing and loving her; we must celebrate her love and great faithfulness to the God who called her to religious life and the wonderful ways she has responded to her call to serve and teach in the church. Sister Frances has truly been ‘Sister’ to many of us and for this we are grateful. Instead of good-bye let us pray, God be with you, dear Sister Frances Eileen. Thank you for your ministry among us!”

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Veronica J. (Jackie) Burke, BVM (Timothena)

Veronica J. (Jackie) Burke, BVM (Timothena) died Wednesday, May 11,2016, at Caritas Center in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Friday, May 20, 2016, 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 San Francisco, on May 6, 1921, to Martin and Mary Ann Kelly Burke. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1939, from St. Paul Parish, San Francisco. She professed first vows on March 19, 1942, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1947.

Sister Veronica was an elementary school teacher and principal in Butte and Missoula, Mont.; San Francisco and Sacramento, Calif.; Chicago; and Des Moines, Iowa. She served as provincial for the BVM congregation. She ministered as counselor in San Francisco and was an education services officer in the Panama Canal Zone.

She was preceded in death by her parents, brother Timothy, and sister Eleanor Burke, BVM (Anna Martine). She is survived by Kathy, Jonathan and David Bebe and families, and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with whom she shared life for 76 years.

Sister Veronica J.(Jackie) Burke, BVM (Timothena)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, May 20, 2016

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Veronica J. (Jackie) Burke.

Julia Veronica Burke, Jackie to those who knew her, entered this world on May 6, 1921, joining brother Timothy and sister Eleanor as the youngest child born to Martin and Mary Ann (Kelly) Burke of San Francisco. Both of her parents emigrated from Ireland. Unfortunately, her father died before she entered the community. Jackie attended St. Paul School from primary grades through high school and worked briefly as a stenographer after graduation.

On her application for admission, Jackie wrote, “My love for Christ is such that I feel I must sacrifice something for Him. I feel a desire to bring other souls to know Him and love Him.” She entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1939, and received the name Timothena upon her reception on March 19, 1940. She professed her first vows on March 19, 1942, and lived 76 years as a BVM.

Jackie’s sister, Sister Eleanor Burke, BVM (Anna Martine) entered in 1941. In a 1998 Salt article, the sisters commented, “Having a blood sister in the congregation has been one of the greatest joys of being a BVM. Home visits were a double joy—no need to find a companion, no need to be concerned about entertaining her. In times of sorrow, the grief we felt was alleviated by the sharing of it. And now, in old age, we continue to share our journey—we continue to be BEST FRIENDS.” Sister Eleanor died in 2008.

Jackie taught first and second grade for 18 years with missions at St. Ann in Butte and St. Anthony in Missoula, Mont.; St. Philip, St. Brigid and St. Paul in San Francisco and All Hallows in Sacramento, Calif.; and St. Gertrude in Chicago. She also served as principal at St. Ambrose in Des Moines, Iowa, for six years and as provincial for the St. Joseph Province from 1966 to 1969. Jackie related well with students, parents and faculty and had the ability to make a request seem more like an invitation to a wonderful opportunity. She was very open to the changes that occurred in the BVM community during her time as provincial and was one of the first BVMs to experiment with being out of the habit.

Jackie worked as an educational services officer at the Fort William Davis Education Center in the Panama Canal Zone and as a counselor at the Letterman General Hospital on the former Presidio Military Base in San Francisco. Her natural ability as an excellent listener made Jackie an outstanding counselor. Many young sisters and former BVMs sought out her wise counsel or simply an affirmation of their chosen path. One former member wrote, “As a Scholastic leaving Mount Carmel for Clarke, I was not feeling very good about myself. One counseling session with Jackie changed my life . . . I will always be indebted to her for helping me see the true me . . . She touched me deeply. I am eternally grateful to this wonderful woman.”

For many years Jackie lived in San Francisco and Daly City, Calif., with her sister Eleanor and former BVM and Associate Betty Carey. Jackie made the home a fun place to visit. Her sense of inclusion—acceptance of and comfort with everybody—was well ahead of the times and created a rather eclectic group of friends who celebrated major holidays at their home for many years. Jackie, Eleanor and Betty were known as “the godmothers” to the two sons of former BVM Kathy (Greaney) Bebe and were very involved in their growing up years. Jackie remained dedicated to Eleanor and Betty through all their life transitions right to their deaths. In these last years with no nieces or nephews, the Bebe family, who loved and cherished Jackie immensely, became her “immediate” family.

Jackie had a great sense of humor and enjoyed life and yet was very practical and down-to-earth. She was an avid reader who consumed books like breathing. She delighted in nature, exploring new trails, especially trails along the ocean, as a bicyclist and a dedicated walker. After moving to Mount Carmel in 2003, she remained active as a volunteer, even serving breakfast in the Special Care Unit to free up staff to complete other tasks.

Jackie was well-loved; her tender loving nature drew people to her. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” During her 20 years as a counselor and a lifetime of availing herself to others, she welcomed the burdened and eased their load. Finally, nine days ago, Jackie’s burden was lifted as Jesus called her home. Rest in peace, Jackie.

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Maxine Marie Rummelhart, BVM (Rupert)

Maxine Marie Rummelhart, BVM (Rupert) died Monday, April 25, 2016, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Tuesday, May 3, 2016, 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 Riverside, Iowa, on June 26, 1926, to Rupert and Clara Florang Rummelhart. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1943, from St. Mary Parish, Riverside. She professed first vows on March 19, 1946, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1951.

Sister Maxine was an elementary school teacher in Chicago and DeKalb, Ill.; Mason City, Iowa; and Los Angeles and North Hollywood, Calif. She ministered as home health aide in Chicago and volunteered at Roberta Kuhn Center, Mount Carmel, Dubuque.

She was preceded in death by her parents; sisters: Marie and Mildred, and Helen Green; and brothers: Paul, Francis, Mark, Omer and Melvin. She is survived by a sister Marceline Schiefelbein, Elkhorn, Wis.; nieces, nephews and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with whom she shared life for 72 years.

Sister Maxine Marie Rummelhart, BVM (Rupert)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, May 3, 2016

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Maxine Marie Rummelhart.

Maxine Rummelhart entered this world on June 26, 1926, as the eighth of 10 children born to Rupert and Clara Florang Rummelhart of Riverside, Iowa. Her mother had a faith that could move mountains and was a calming force as her father frequently moved the family from farm to farm. Maxine worked hard on the farm, and yet, she had a happy childhood and enjoyed country living. She attended country school for the first and second grades and recalled, “In the wintertime we were allowed to bring a potato to put into the ashes of the pot belly stove and it was baked to perfection by noon.”

Maxine considered herself a tomboy and wrote, “During the summer I enjoyed playing baseball with anyone who came to the park. There were mostly boys but that didn’t matter . . . Mom approached me and said that I needed to learn some ladylike things. I wasn’t the least bit interested until she told me she would pay me to learn to embroider His and Hers on pillow slips . . . Each stitch [had to] be very tiny or I received no pay. I did learn correctly and was paid. From then on I spent less time playing baseball . . . thanks to my mom for teaching the art.” A number of her paintings and needlework are displayed around Mount Carmel.

Maxine began attending St. Mary’s in the third grade. By the time she was in seventh grade, she often stayed after school to help clean the classroom. She wrote, “Mom could never understand how the nuns could get me to help clean after school and at home I didn’t want to do any work.”

During Maxine’s junior year, her father’s health necessitated a move to a southern climate. They were in Texas for only a few months when Maxine knew she was called to religious life. She moved back to Riverside and lived with an elderly cousin to finish the school year at St. Mary’s. Maxine entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1943, and received the name Rupert upon her reception on March 19, 1944. She completed her high school education during her first year at Mount Carmel and professed her first vows on March 19, 1946.

Maxine spent 23 of her 73 years as a BVM teaching first through fifth grades at Annunciation, Our Lady Help of Christians, and St. Vincent in Chicago, Ill.; St. Mary in DeKalb, Ill.; Holy Family in Mason City, Iowa; St. Brendan and Assumption in Los Angeles, Calif.; and St. Charles in North Hollywood, Calif. She also taught art to the middle and upper grades at St. Jerome in Chicago. It was a big transition, but Maxine, being very artistic, embraced the challenge and worked diligently to become an excellent art teacher. She showed great interest in her students and displayed their work in the hallway outside her room. She later returned to Assumption in Los Angeles to teach remedial reading and preschool. She dearly loved the little ones and was so wonderful with them that parents frequently asked her to babysit.

After retiring from teaching in 1978, Maxine moved to Wright Hall and worked as a home health aide for the Neighbor’s Program in Chicago. She would ride her bicycle to the home of a shut-in and generously help in any way she could—cooking, cleaning, shopping and companioning. She was always kind and giving, gathering up unwanted items and distributing them to someone in need.

In 1991, Maxine moved to Vista Heights at the Visitation convent in Dubuque, Iowa, and volunteered at the Roberta Kuhn Center at Mount Carmel. Her farming experience revealed itself after she moved to Mount Carmel. She enjoyed growing large amounts of vegetables in one of the garden plots, sharing them with the Motherhouse kitchen, and sending visitors home with an abundance of fresh produce. Her father, whom she loved dearly, would have been so proud. Maxine became acquainted with an Amish family who ran a stand at the Farmer’s Market in Dubuque. She encouraged people to purchase their baked goods and invited the mother, and the child who accompanied her, to Mount Carmel for lunch. The mother brought a different child every week. It was a delightful experience for both the children and the residents.

Maxine was such pleasant person—friendly, happy, smiling and frequently laughing. One member of her set recalled that while in the novitiate Maxine would get herself, and all the other set members, into trouble with her infectious giggle. She had a great sense of humor that made it possible for others to laugh through difficult times. One BVM put it simply, “Maxine helped a lot of people in her life.” She truly was “[God’s] handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God [had] prepared in advance.” (Ephesians 2:10). We thank God for the gift of Maxine and rejoice that God has called home this “good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21)

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Incarnata Gephart, BVM

Incarnata Gephart, BVM died Thursday, April 21, 2016, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Thursday, April 28, 2016, 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 Fort Lupton, Colo., on Dec. 3, 1920, to Ernest and Lillian Scoville Gephart. She entered the BVM congregation Feb. 2, 1939, from St. John Baptist Parish, Longmont, Colo. She professed first vows on Aug. 15, 1941, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1946.

Sister Incarnata was an elementary school teacher and principal in San Francisco, Sacramento and Granada Hills, Calif.; Butte, Mont.; Lincoln and Omaha, Neb.; and Boulder, Colo. She served on the staff of Marian Hall and as volunteer.

She was preceded in death by her parents; sisters Betty Lynn Gephart and Dorothy Doucette; and brother Leo. She is survived by nieces, nephews and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with whom she shared life for 77 years.

Sister Incarnata Gephart, BVM
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, April 28, 2016

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Incarnata Gephart.

Kathleen Ann Gephart entered this world on Dec. 3, 1920, in Fort Lupton, Colo. She was the first child born to Ernest and Lillian Scoville Gephart and was later joined by siblings Betty, Dorothy and Ernest Leo. Her father was a coal miner and she spent her first five years living in coal mining camps. After her paternal grandmother died, the family moved to Longmont, Colo., to care for her grandfather while her father worked as a mechanic. She attended St. John Catholic School which was staffed by the Sisters of St. Francis from Milwaukee, Wis. Kathleen had to walk 10 blocks each way, often in cold and snow, and even froze her hands when she was in second grade.

Since there were no Catholic high schools in Longmont, her uncle, Father Nicolas Scoville, made arrangements for Kathleen to attend Mt. St. Gertrude Academy in Boulder where she worked in the kitchen and the laundry room to help cover the cost. After graduation Kathleen worked at Montgomery Ward in Denver to save money for her dowry and transportation. She entered the congregation on Feb. 2, 1939, received the name Incarnata upon her reception on March 19, 1940, professed first vows on Aug. 15, 1941, and lived 77 years as a BVM.

Incarnata, Inky as she was affectionately known, was a dedicated, engaging and caring teacher who maintained an excellent rapport with students, parents and faculty alike. One principal commented, “Her students’ growth academically and emotionally is obvious . . . She is always willing to go the extra step. She has been an extremely beneficial support system for me. Her openness and professionalism is respected by all.” Inky was missioned in California at Most Holy Redeemer in San Francisco, All Hallows in Sacramento, and De LaSalle in Granada Hills. In Nebraska, she taught at Cathedral and Sacred Heart in Lincoln and St. Bridget in Omaha. Missions at St. Joseph and St. Ann in Butte, Mont., and Sacred Heart in Boulder, Colo., complete her 40 years as an educator.

Recalling her first mission at Most Holy Redeemer, Inky wrote, “There were 80 children in first grade. In March, 15 second-graders, the slow group, were added [to my class]. Somehow with the help of the Holy Spirit the children learned in spite of the large numbers.” While teaching in Butte, Inky would spend her summers living with ranchers. She teamed with Sister Philomena Rosselli for the challenging task of teaching religious vacation school in the morning at a parish in Boulder, Mont., and then teaching at the State School for the Handicapped in the afternoon. Still there was time for a little exploration. Inky jumped at the opportunity to tour a copper mine and convinced Philomena to accompany her. Inky with her inquisitive mind was ecstatic; Philomena terrified!

When classes at Sacred Heart in Boulder were departmentalized, Inky became the science teacher. “I loved it,” she wrote. “I was given a special room for science so it was well equipped with science materials and animals.” After completing her master’s degree, Inky served as principal at Sacred Heart School in Lincoln, Neb., for nine years. With the help of Sister Mary Joanne Francis Deheck as her secretary and right hand in the office, she also taught sixth grade science and religion. “Those were difficult years,” she wrote. “[The Bishop] welcomed [Vietnamese] refugees into the Lincoln Diocese . . . The faculty donated one summer school to teaching English to the children. They taught six weeks without salary.” In honor of her work with the refugees, she was named as Outstanding Catholic Teacher by the Knights of Columbus and received the Humanitarian Award from the United States Catholic Conference.

Inky moved to Dubuque in 1983 to work as a staff assistant at Marian Hall. The following year she returned to the classroom at De LaSalle School in Granada Hills, Calif., where she taught science and served as a faculty resource person. She traveled from room to room with a mobile science cart giving creative and stimulating science presentations.

Inky returned to Dubuque in 1993, lived at Vista Carmel, located in the Visitation convent, and volunteered as a driver and shopper for Marian Hall residents. After moving to the Motherhouse, she remained active by helping with the laundry and bringing ice water to the third floor residents of Marian Hall. Inky enjoyed the opportunity to visit and her cheerfulness brightened the day of all she met. Her sparkly personality, as well as her kindness and gratefulness, remained when she became a Marian Hall resident. She loved singing, doing crossword puzzles, watching Wheel of Fortune, and Michael Jordan. She also had a great sense of humor. Whenever an aide exiting her room would say, “See you later, Alligator,” a quick exchange followed. “In a while crocodile.” “Not too soon.” “You big baboon.”

Inky was an easygoing and delightful person who embraced the words from Ecclesiastes: “There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens.” She flowed through the changes in her life as the nature she loved so much flows through its seasons, knowing and trusting in the Creator. We praise and thank God for the blessing of Incarnata to whom, with belief in the Resurrection, we say, “See you later . . .”

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Eva Sheehan, BVM

Eva Sheehan, BVM died Friday, April 1, 2016, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Wednesday, April 6, 2016, 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 Killarney, Ireland, on April 12, 1917, to Harry and Ellen Connor Sheehan. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1937, from St. Paul Parish, San Francisco. She professed first vows on March 19, 1940, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1945.

Sister Eva was a lifelong elementary school teacher in Dubuque, Iowa; Maywood and Chicago, Ill.; Casper, Wyo.; Hempstead, N.Y.; Wahiawa Oahu and Kauai, Hawaii; Rapid City, S. D.; Kansas City, Mo.; and Glendale, Calif.

She was preceded in death by her parents; sisters: Jane Therese Clifford, BVM; Pauline Clifford, BVM; Dorita Clifford, BVM; Norinne Clifford, SHF; and Ellen Vitorelo; and brothers: John J. Clifford; Rev. Daniel Clifford, SJ; and Daniel Sheehan. She is survived by a sister, Margaret Kotlanger, San Francisco; nieces and nephews; and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with whom she shared life for 78 years.

Sister Eva Sheehan, BVM
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, April 6, 2016

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Eva Sheehan.

Eva Sheehan once requested that she be remembered as one who “lived, laughed and loved life.” Her life began on April 12, 1917, as Honoria (Nora) in Killarney, Ireland. She joined a brother Daniel as the second child born to Harry and Ellen Connor Sheehan. When her father died in 1919, she lived with her paternal grandparents until she was 5 years old when her aunt and uncle, Mary and Patrick Clifford, brought her to San Francisco and raised her as their ninth child. Nora loved growing up “with so many brothers and sisters.”

Nora was in one of the earliest graduating classes at St. Paul’s, which opened the year before she was born. It was there that she formed a special friendship with Sister Mary St. Cyril Byrne and adored Sister Mary Charitine Mahoney. Following in the footsteps of three Clifford daughters, Sisters Jane Therese, Pauline, and Dorita, she entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1937, and received the name Eva upon her reception on March 19, 1938. She professed her first vows on March 19, 1940, and lived 78 years as a BVM.

Eva taught kindergarten and primary grades across our vast nation. Her first mission was to teach first grade at St. Raphael in Dubuque, Iowa, where, in her words, “I was a little bit bigger than they were.” She was later missioned at St. Eulalia in Maywood, Ill.; St. Anthony in Casper, Wyo.; Our Lady of Loretto in Hempstead, N.Y.; St. Charles and Annunciation in Chicago; Our Lady of Sorrows in Wahiawa, Oahu and Holy Cross in Kalaheo, Kauai, both in Hawaii; Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Rapid City, S.D.; Regis-O’Hara in Kansas City, Mo.; and Holy Family in Glendale, Calif. She also taught religion on Wake Island, Guam, for six weeks one summer.

Highly regarded for her skill with and love of little children, Eva was invited to establish and manage kindergarten programs at St. Frances Regis in Kansas City and at Holy Family in Glendale. She also established a preschool nursery for 2 1/2 to 4-year-olds in Casper and taught in this program for seven summers. Of all the places where she was missioned, Hawaii was her favorite because of the beauty of the land.

Eva moved to Mount Carmel in 2000, leaving behind Holy Family parish where she had lived for 14 years. A sixth-grader who Eva taught in kindergarten wrote, “Sister Mary Eva is known by almost all at Holy Family Parish. You can know who she is from her sparkling eyes and big smile. Her personality is also as noticeable as her appearance. She is very joyous, almost never frowning. Sister Eva also has a big heart . . . very generous and helping.” A parent wrote that Sister Eva was “the first grade teacher for [my husband] and our two oldest children. She loved each of them at a time in their lives when they needed special love and belief.”

Eva was a very special person. She had many friends simply because she herself was warm and outgoing. She possessed a delightful sense of humor, often seen in a wink of her eye or a knowing glance, and might be described as impish, always ready for a bit of loving mischief. It’s interesting to note that she died on April Fool’s Day.

Eva was very interested in community issues and a faithful participant in Sister Kitty Lawlor’s BVM Community History class. She loved to say, “I’m going to class.” She was spunky and lived her life fully to the very end.

St. Peter wrote, “Let your love for one another be intense . . . As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” Eva both loved deeply and was deeply loved. She once described her vocation as “responding to God’s work in saving souls,” but truly it was to love—to love her family, her friends, her BVM sisters, her students and life.

Eva also promised to “continue [her] work by interceding with [her] Creator for those [she] leaves.” With gratitude we remember Eva and her many years of serving and loving, and rejoice with her as she enters eternal life. Taking Eva at her word, we are confident that she continues to intercede for us to our loving God.

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Mary John Agnes Smith, BVM

Mary John Agnes Smith, BVM died Friday, March 25, 2016, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 2–4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 30, 2016, in the Marian Hall Chapel followed by a prayer service at 4 p.m. Funeral liturgy will be held at a later date. Burial will be in the Mount Carmel cemetery.

She was born in Grimes, Iowa, on March 6, 1927, to John William and Agnes Ann Howe Smith. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1945, from Holy Trinity Parish, Grimes. She professed first vows on March 19, 1948, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1953.

Sister Mary John Agnes was an elementary school teacher and principal in San Francisco; Lincoln, Neb.; Chicago; Boulder, Colo.; and Des Moines and West Des Moines, Iowa, where she also served as adult day care director, resource person and volunteer.

She was preceded in death by her parents and sisters Rita Evans and Madonna Smith. She is survived by a brother Daniel J., Grimes, Iowa; a sister Jeanne Phelan, Zearing, Iowa; nieces and nephews; and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with whom she shared life for 70 years.

Sister Mary John Agnes Smith, BVM
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, April 26, 2016

Good morning and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Mary John Agnes Smith.

Mary Agnes Smith was born on March 6, 1927, the second child of John William Smith and Agnes Ann Howe of Grimes, Iowa. She joined older sister Rita, and siblings Madonna, Daniel John and Jeanne followed. The Smith family lived on a farm and, like most farm children, Mary Agnes was assigned chores. Decades later she still enjoyed sharing the stories and the wisdom she collected as a farm girl. When she lived in Des Moines, Iowa, she would bring guests out to see the farm.

After completing public grade school, Mary Agnes attended St. Joseph Academy in Des Moines as a boarder. She entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1945, and received the name John Agnes upon her reception on March 19, 1946. Her sister Madonna, the former S.M. Rita Ellen, joined the congregation one year later, but withdrew in 1970. Mary Agnes professed her first vows on March 19, 1948, and lived 70 years as a BVM.

John Agnes always strived to provide guidance and support to her students. She was sent to teach first and second grades at St. Paul in San Francisco; Sacred Heart in Lincoln, Neb.; St. Bridget in Chicago; Sacred Heart in Boulder, Co., and fourth grade at St. John in Des Moines, Iowa. She also served as principal at St. John, and at St. Ambrose and St. Pius X, all in Des Moines. Her parents were charter members of St. Pius X. In an open letter to the parish, John Agnes wrote, “It is never easy to walk away from a ministry in which one has invested so much of oneself . . . St. Pius will always hold a special place in my heart and prayer. My life has been enriched by all we have shared in the past 10 years and I am deeply grateful.”

For the next six years, John Agnes served as the director of the Willis Adult Day Care Center at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines. The Willis Center provided the elderly and young disabled adults with supportive services such as health care, supervision, socialization, meals and transportation—with the goal of allowing individuals to remain in their homes or the homes of their families for as long as possible. She wrote, “It’s a great service . . . One received much joy from these people. [There is] great satisfaction daily because the elderly are so grateful for everything you do for them.”

John Agnes later worked as a resource person and a volunteer at Sacred Heart ES in West Des Moines, Iowa. A teacher with whom she worked wrote, “I really admire Sister John Agnes! I remember when I heard that she was going to be our resource teacher. I was a little nervous knowing she’s an ex-principal and lives with the superintendent! I quickly learned how ‘down to earth’ she is. She has a wonderful sense of humor and really knows how to ‘calm’ the children . . . She has been so affirming to me as well . . . It’s so neat to get a pat on the back now and then! I really enjoy having her come into my classroom.”

John Agnes enjoyed crafts, sewing and painting and once commented that if she had more time, she would do more sewing. It is not surprising that after she moved to Mount Carmel, she generously and cheerfully volunteered with the “Cut-Ups.” During her decade with the group, she created party favors for birthday celebrations and made diapers out of t-shirts, sewed dresses for girls, and put the finishing touches on fleece blankets and knitted baby caps—all for underprivileged children.

John Agnes had a beautiful smile and a good sense of humor, with often spiced one-liners. She had a big heart and an abundance of friendship and love to share. She was faithful and grateful, gracious and encouraging. She strongly believed that people should keep their dreams alive, often reminding them that “they will come true if people trust in the Lord.” She never complained as her health deteriorated and she longed to return home to God. Finally, like Mary Magdalene on that first Easter morn, John Agnes heard Jesus call her name. May she, like Mary, proclaim, “I have seen the Lord!”

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H. Dorothy Townsell, BVM (Mildred Ann)

H. Dorothy Townsell, BVM (Mildred Ann) died Friday, March 18, 2016, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation of the cremated remains will be held from 10–11 a.m. on Tuesday, March 29, 2016, 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 Streator, Ill., on July 20, 1912, to William and Clare Whalen Townsell. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1932, from Sacred Heart Parish, Caney, Kan. She professed first vows on March 19, 1935, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1940.

Dorothy was on the faculty of Clarke University, Dubuque, and Mundelein College, Chicago. She was a secondary school teacher in Burlington, Council Bluffs, and Davenport, Iowa; Milwaukee, Wis.; Saint Paul, Minn.; Rock Island, Ill.; and Los Angeles, Calif. She served as microbiologist/research technician in Minneapolis, Minn., and in companion ministry in Streator, Ill.

She was preceded in death by her parents; brothers: James T., William, Edward, and Leo; and sisters Marie Townsell and Irene O’Brien. She is survived by sisters Catherine Voisinet, Pensacola, Fla.; and Mildred Willett, Elma, N.Y.; nieces; nephews; and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with whom she shared life for 83 years.

Sister H. Dorothy Townsell, BVM (Mildred Ann)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall Chapel, March 29, 2016

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of the life of our Sister Dorothy Townsell.

Four months after the sinking of the Titanic, Helena Dorothy Townsell was born on July 20, 1912, in Streator, Ill., the eldest of nine children born to William and Clara Whalen Townsell. Big families ran in her family; she had 37 nieces and nephews. In an interview, Dorothy said, “Their progeny included the artist Patrick Willett . . . also workers with disabled children, a player for the Pittsburgh hockey team, twins who are models, and an archeologist. You don’t have to read the funny papers to come up with entertaining family stories.”

Dorothy’s first contact with BVMs was as a junior at Clarke University. She was impressed with Sister Theresa Francis McDade and Sister Therese Langerbeck who were in charge of boarders. Dorothy entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1932, received the name Mildred Ann upon reception on March 19, 1933, and professed first vows on March 19, 1935. She lived 83 years as a Sister of Charity.

Dorothy spent over 30 years in high schools teaching mainly biology and home economics. She was missioned in Iowa at St. Paul in Burlington, Assumption in Davenport, St. Francis in Council Bluffs, and Clarke University in Dubuque; in Illinois at Alleman in Rock Island and Mundelein College in Chicago; in California at St. Brendan Choir School in Los Angeles; in Wisconsin at Holy Angels Academy in Milwaukee; and in Minnesota at Our Lady of Peace in St. Paul.

Dorothy commented, “My favorite mission was Our Lady of Peace in St. Paul. The parents were as much a part of the school community as the students. There were so many vocations from that school. Many kept in touch with us. Sister Mary Adorinus McGuire was the superior. She gave the school a touch of elegance.”

Former student and author, Susanne Sebesta Heimbuch, described her encounter with Dorothy at Our Lady of Peace in an article published in Ramsey County History, the historical society’s magazine. She wrote, “Sister Mary Mildred, BVM, was my homeroom and religion teacher. She also taught biology . . . She charged through the hallway from lab to homeroom like a steamship at full power—tall, purposeful and fast. We scattered when we saw her coming.”

After leaving teaching, Dorothy worked as a research technician and a microbiologist for the Food and Drug Administration in Minneapolis, Minn., for six years. She left to spend 10 years providing companion care for her mother and her aunt Rosalie Whalen after which she resided at Wright Hall before moving to Mount Carmel in 2010.

Dorothy loved flowers and plants and was a “plant doctor” for the activities department. When weather permitted, she would start her day by going outdoors to breathe in the joy and freshness of the outdoors and relish nature. Dorothy also loved to travel. She was crazy about trains and once she rode across the country from Florida to Los Angeles. She was an avid learner who, despite physical ailments, continued to take classes.

She valued the arts and savored anything that was read to her, especially materials from the Chicago Tribune about arts, architecture and music. Chicago was one of her favorite cities and the Chicago Art Institute one of her favorite places where, if you were lucky enough to take her tour, she would eagerly share even the smallest details about her favorite paintings. She was a delightful conversationalist.

Family and friends were very important to Dorothy, who managed to stay connected even through great distances. It was essential to her that she finished updating the family birthday list, which she did shortly before she died. Dorothy was very thoughtful of others, and managed to convince those who insisted on sending her gifts to send ones that could be shared or given to others. She was famous for making boxes out of greeting cards, filling them with chocolates and giving them as gifts.

St. Paul wrote to the Romans, “If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.” Filled with this hope and the joy of Easter, we recall with love and gratitude the long earthly life of Dorothy and celebrate her entrance into eternal life.

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Sarah Ann Braig, BVM

Sarah Ann Braig, BVM died Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, at Mercy Hospital in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 5, 2016, 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 Dubuque on March 16, 1943, to Wayne and Mildred Nicks Braig. She entered the BVM congregation July 31, 1965, from St. Joseph Parish, Dubuque. She professed first vows on Feb. 2, 1968, and final vows on Feb. 2, 1975.

Sarah served as nurse aide at Mount Carmel and St. Dominic Villa, Dubuque. She taught first grade in Antioch, Ill. In Oregon, she taught first grade in Portland and worked as nurse aide in Marylhurst. She was nursing assistant, activities assistant, and caregiver in St. Louis; and child care center teacher in Webster Groves, Mo.

She was preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by brothers Thomas (Trudy), Albuqerque, N.M., and James (Karla), Dubuque, Iowa; sister Betsy Ann Cerutti (Roger), Madison, Wis.; nieces and nephews and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with whom she shared life for 50 years.

Sister Sarah Ann Braig, BVM
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, Feb. 5, 2016

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Sarah Ann Braig.

Sarah Ann Braig was born on March 16, 1943, in Dubuque, Iowa, to Wayne and Mildred Nicks Braig. She joined siblings Betsy and Thomas and was followed by a brother James. Sarah was 12 years old when her mother died. Although she experienced this and many other difficulties in her life, Sarah always had a sense of joy in the Lord for she knew the words found in the Book of Jeremiah: “I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11).

In the years that followed, her relationship with her father deepened. She would spend every summer with him and they would go fishing together. It was a bond that lasted throughout his long life.

Sarah attended St. Joseph Grade School and St. Joseph Academy. She graduated from Wahlert HS and Clarke University before answering the call to religious life. She entered the congregation on July 31, 1965, and was received on July 2, 1966. A former set member commented that “she made the early days much easier with her humor and kindness.” Sarah professed first vows on Feb. 2, 1968, and lived 50 years as a BVM.

Sarah taught first grade at St. Peter in Antioch, Ill., and St. Clare in Portland, Ore. She also taught at the Grow & Learn Child Care Center in Webster Groves, Mo. But her true calling, the one that she loved deeply, was her ministry to the elderly infirm. She served as a nurse assistant at the Holy Name Care Center in Marylhurst, Ore.; the Jesuit Hall-Fusz Pavilion in St. Louis, Mo; and the St. Dominic Villa and Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. She was the assistant to the activities director at Mary Queen & Mother Center in St. Louis and ministered with CSJ Care, sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, providing a variety of home services that enabled her clients to remain in their homes.

Sarah loved people and was full of joy when helping others. She often used games and music to encourage her clients to do their physical therapy. Her warm, gentle, loving kindness made her a soothing presence, a blessing of pleasure and peace.

Sarah loved her life in St. Louis. She was an active member of the St. Francis Xavier College Church and greatly enjoyed the fellowship and the liturgical music. She was connected with the Emmaus community. She looked forward to the St. Louis cluster gatherings, especially the annual Super Bowl party.

Of course, a love of baseball combined with living in St. Louis could only mean one thing—she was an avid Cardinals fan. She enthusiastically watched the games and cheered on her team along with friends in her apartment building. The residents regularly socialized together, gathering for meals and card games. She found it very difficult to leave her friends when health issues forced her to move to Dubuque in 2013, but she accepted it with grace.

Sarah was a gentle soul, a friendly spirit, a loving person. She enjoyed conversing with everyone and showed kindness and acceptance to all. She had a big warm smile, a happy heart, a good sense of humor and a wonderfully infectious laugh. How easy it was to get her to laugh! She was an independent personality who lived a profound simplicity. She was down-to-earth and practical and yet, she could demonstrate a solid resolve with feisty determination.

Sarah deeply loved her family and friends. She was grateful for even the smallest kindness and for her brother Jim, whose care and concern brought joy to her days at Mount Carmel. Celebrating her Golden Jubilee last summer surrounded by family and friends was a great highlight in her life.

Sarah loved music, especially the symphony and singing. At times her beautiful voice would spontaneously break into songs of praise. The words of the song “How Can I Keep from Singing?” aptly and beautifully describe Sarah and the way she lived her life.

Through all the tumult and the strife,
I hear that music ringing;
It sounds and echoes in my soul;
How can I keep from singing?

No storm can shake my inmost calm,
While to the rock I’m clinging.
Since Love is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

Sarah’s beautiful voice has joined the heavenly chorus. As we celebrate her entrance into eternal life, may we keep her song alive in our hearts.

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