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Obituaries

Janita Curoe, BVM

Janita Curoe, BVM died Friday, Feb. 10, 2017, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. The Natural Burial Rite of Committal was held Feb. 11, 2017, in the Marian Hall Chapel. A memorial service will be held Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, with shared stories followed by liturgy. Burial was in the Mount Carmel cemetery.

She was born in Bernard, Iowa, on March 28, 1929, to William Edward and Marie Powers Curoe. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1946, from Sacred Heart Parish, Fillmore, Iowa. She professed first vows on March 19, 1949, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1954.

Sister Janita taught elementary school and was principal in Davenport, Iowa; Chicago; Memphis and Chattanooga, Tenn.; and Clarksdale and Jackson, Miss. She served as county literacy coordinator and volunteer tutor in Canton, Miss.

She was preceded in death by her parents; sisters Mary Curoe, BVM (St. Richard) and Catherine Pfab; and brothers: Robert, Richard and John. She is survived by a sister-in-law, Janice Curoe, Dubuque; a brother-in-law, Irvin Pfab, Iowa City, Iowa; nieces; nephews; and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with whom she shared life for 70 years.

Sister Janita Curoe, BVM
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, Feb. 13, 2017

Good morning and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Janita Curoe. Special welcome to Janine’s family present with us today, her friends, set members, and all joining us through electronic media.

Jane Therese Curoe was born on March 28, 1929, to William Edward and Marie Powers who farmed near Bernard, Iowa. She was the third of six children—three girls: Mary, Jane and Catherine, and three boys: Robert, Richard and John—all born at home. “I thought my parents were perfect,” commented Jane. “They gave me a wonderful start . . . They were very good people.”

During Jane’s senior year at Our Lady of the Angels Academy in Clinton, Iowa, a nagging thought began running through her head, especially during the quiet of prayer. To avoid it, she pretended to fall ill before every Holy Hour. Eventually, her senior teacher caught on and Jane confessed her attempt to dodge a call to religious life. Following her teacher’s suggestion, she decided to become a BVM because a Dubuque motherhouse would make family visits easier. She told no one about her plans except her mother, who was doubtful because Jane loved clothes too much. Jane stood firm against her mother’s doubt; nevertheless, she secretly spent the summer praying for a sign not to enter. None came.

So on Sept. 8, 1946, Jane entered the congregation, joining her older sister Mary, who entered in 1939 and died in 2010. The two sisters followed in the footsteps of their aunt, Sister Mary Norbertus Powers, and their grandaunt, Sister Mary Maxima Curoe. Jane received the name Janita upon her reception on March 19, 1947, professed her first vows on March 19, 1949, and lived 70 years as a BVM. Throughout her life, Janita sought God’s guidance by asking for a sign. “Some days God works in mysterious ways,” said Janita, “and other days He knocks you over the head.” However, the best thing that ever happened to her was the absence of a sign that brought her to Mount Carmel.

Janita’s first mission was at St. Paul ES in Davenport, Iowa, where she remained long enough to see her first graders graduate from eighth grade, calling it “a wonderful experience.” She also taught primary grades at St. Eugene in Chicago; Fr. Bertrand Elementary in Memphis, Tenn.; and Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Chattanooga, Tenn. Janita was an excellent teacher. She had a way of effectively handling even the youngest disruptive child. She listened to children and talked to them lovingly. She cared about them and they knew it. It was her great love that made her such an inspiring teacher.

Janita also served as principal at Sacred Heart and St. Paul in Davenport; Immaculate Conception in Clarksdale, Miss.; and Christ the King Elementary in Jackson, Miss. Immaculate Conception was an extremely poor school. In the absence of support staff, Janita filled many additional roles such as secretary and janitor. Despite these extra responsibilities, she was able to establish a government-funded hot lunch program for the children at the school.

Pope St. John Paul II called illiteracy “a hidden evil which deprives a great number of poor people of many possibilities for progress.” Janita wholeheartedly agreed. For eight years, she served as the coordinator for Madison County Literacy Program in Mississippi. She helped inmates at the state penitentiary and the county jail earn their GEDs and tutored children at the Madison County Library and at two Catholic schools. She was passionate about education and never tired of teaching children to read. Even after retiring, she remained in Mississippi to volunteer in a public school. She was invaluable and achieved marvelous results bringing the children up to grade level. Education truly was her gift to others.

Her 32 years serving the African American community in the South did come with a personal price. She wrote, “Leaving my family . . . seeing them only once or twice a year, was a loss I had not considered. [I was] not around to see my nieces and nephews grow up . . . . I barely know some of them and they barely know me.” Yet, she said, “Those were good years living and working in a warm and welcoming community.” Finally, after moving to Mount Carmel, Janita was pleased to reacquaint herself with her extended family.

During the summer of 2000, Janita spent a week building a home in Honduras with Habitat for Humanity International. She continued to be engaged in outreach activities here at Mount Carmel. She shared her personal story as a participant in the “Sisters Oral History Project” and served as a panelist for the Mission Integration and Orientation Program for Mount Carmel employees. She also volunteered at the Mount Carmel reception desks.

Janita had the sweetest nature, like a genteel southern woman, and a beautiful smile that radiated peace. With a heart of service and love, she joyfully accepted every mission. As an introvert, she enjoyed living alone with plenty of quiet time for praying and reading. Yet, she was a great person with whom to live—kind, considerate, generous and patient. One of her greatest joys was being a member of a community and making wonderful BVM friends.

Janita deeply embraced the vow of poverty. Yes, she loved nice clothes, but never bought anything new. She either sewed her own outfits or shopped at thrift stores. She also felt a responsibility to stay employed, not only to support herself, but to send more to Mount Carmel to support the novices and the infirmed. She even turned down opportunities to travel because the trips would not directly enhance her education or her work. This was the one decision that Janita regretted—but only a little bit. “My whole life was a blessing,” she remarked. “I’ve had a wonderful life.”

Janita chose the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:34-40) for today’s Gospel. Through her ministries, she fed those who hungered and thirsted for the rich fare of an education. She cared for the downtrodden and the imprisoned by giving them hope for a better life. She welcomed all and turned her back on no one. Friday, Jesus came to her and said, “Come, Janita, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kin-dom prepared for you.” We rejoice with you, our friend and sister, as you celebrate new life in kin-dom of God forever.

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


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Kathleen Doherty, BVM (Patrick Louis)

Kathleen Doherty, BVM died Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017, at Caritas Center in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 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 Waterloo, Iowa, on Aug. 24, 1922, to Patrick B. and Mary Salz Doherty. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1945, from St. Joseph Parish, Waterloo. She professed first vows on March 19, 1948, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1953.

Sister Kathleen was an elementary and secondary school teacher in Sioux City, Iowa; Hempstead, N.Y.; and Chicago, where she also served as parish secretary and adult education teacher; and as alumnae association coordinator/treasurer.

She is preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by cousins and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with whom she shared life for 71 years.

Sister Kathleen Doherty, BVM (Patrick Louis)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall Chapel, Feb. 14, 2017

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of the life of our Sister, Kathleen Doherty. We welcome her friends, former students and, especially, members of the St. Mary HS Alumnae Association. We also welcome all BVMs and associates viewing this service on closed circuit TV or through video streaming.

Kathleen Rita Doherty entered this world on Aug. 24, 1922, as the only child of Patrick Brown and Mary Salz Doherty of Waterloo, Iowa. Her father emigrated from Ireland and worked as a janitor. Her mother was of German and Polish descent.

Kathleen graduated from Our Lady of Victory Academy in Waterloo and attended Clarke University for two years. She worked as a senior clerk for Metropolitan Life Insurance for four years before joining the community.

She entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1945, following in the footsteps of her grandaunt Sister Mary Laurina Burchinsky, BVM, her aunt Sister Mary Rembert Salz, BVM, and a cousin, Sister Mary Letice Striegel, BVM. Kathleen received the name Patrick Louis upon her reception on March 19, 1946, professed first vows on March 19, 1948, and lived 71 years as a BVM.

Kathleen taught in both elementary and secondary schools for 28 years with missions at St. Jerome, St. Mary HS, and Holy Family in Chicago; Our Lady of Loretto in Hempstead, N.Y.; and Cathedral in Sioux City, Iowa. As an educator, Kathleen first taught business courses and later taught English.

After St. Mary HS transitioned into the St. Mary Center for Learning, Kathleen gracefully transformed her traditional English course into one of the first high school film study programs in the country. Her program attracted the interest of film industry celebrities such as actor/director Leonard Nimoy and director/producer Frank Capra. Students and faculty alike respected and loved Kathleen for her experience, wisdom and kindness.

For 17 years, Kathleen worked with economically and educationally disadvantaged adults. Her ministry began in the role of parish secretary and adult education instructor at the Holy Family Community Center in Chicago. The Jesuits who ran the center and the parishioners loved her, and the feeling was mutual. “I have received much more than I have given,” wrote Kathleen. “[My] years at Holy Family have deepened my faith and sharpened my awareness of the strength and wisdom that comes to suffering people.”

When the Westside Employment Education Center (WEEC) opened at the Holy Family site, Kathleen was the business department—teaching typing, business English, phone etiquette, and other related courses. She later served on the organization’s board of directors. “Unemployment is still the number one problem for minorities in Chicago, especially women,” she wrote. “The women coming to class now are slightly older, their children are in school, and they can begin to arrange their lives and look for relief from the stranglehold of welfare.” Kathleen worked diligently to build the women’s self-esteem and encouraged them to reach their greatest potential.

For two years after retiring to Wright Hall in Chicago, Kathleen chauffeured other residents, played piano for worship services, and enjoyed painting classes with Sister Eustella Fau, BVM. Several of Kathleen’s paintings now hang here at Mount Carmel. While at Wright Hall, there came the invitation to serve as the coordinator and treasurer of the newly revived St. Mary Alumnae Association. Kathleen really was the perfect choice for this task. In her own words, “the enormous responsibility [of this position was] eased by the generosity of alumnae, my own memories of my faculty time, and the appreciation alums have for the mentoring, education and friendships formed during their years at St. Mary.”

Often working late into the night from her basement office at Wright Hall, she made condolence calls after the death of a graduate or a graduate’s family member, published newsletters, and organized numerous luncheon reunions, memorial liturgies, and fundraisers. The St. Mary Alumnae Association raised over a million dollars for the Sisters of Charity, BVM during her 18 years of devoted leadership.

Every morning, Kathleen awoke, put on her delightful smile and, along with it, the compassion, kindness, gentleness and love of which St. Paul writes to the Colossians. She gave her all to whatever task was at hand. When she wrote the Region 10 newsletter, she called everyone in the region and expected to receive information. Her magnetic personality drew people into responding positively whether they wanted to or not. Yet, she knew she could not do it alone and was truly grateful for everyone with whom she worked. Her love of words made her a great communicator, but she also was an excellent photographer, pianist and artist. In addition, she loved to sing, especially those Irish songs at her great St. Patrick’s Day parties.

After her mother died in 1991, Kathleen discovered a collection of prayers, fragile and worn thin over time. The frailest one was “A Favorite Prayer of Mother Mary Francis [sic] Clarke.” As part of her 200th birthday gift to Mary Frances Clarke, she wrote, “What a surprise! My own mother had chosen a favorite prayer of my spiritual mother to be her favorite! I want [Mary Frances Clarke] to know that I have adopted her ‘favorite prayer’ as my own mother did.”

With words from that prayer, we now bid farewell to our sister and friend. “Jesus Christ crucified, Son of the most holy Virgin Mary, open your Sacred Heart, that seat of love and mercy, and receive [Kathleen] into it; make [her] wholly yours.” Amen.

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


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Rosemary Shaughnessy, BVM (Gerald)

Rosemary Shaughnessy, BVM (Gerald) died Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 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 Chicago on Oct. 24, 1929, to Edward Francis and Joan Marie Schmitz Shaughnessy. She entered the BVM congregation Feb. 2, 1950, from St. Jerome Parish, Chicago. She professed first vows on Aug. 15, 1952, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1957.

Rosemary taught elementary school and was principal in Chicago, Cicero and Berwyn, Ill. Also in Chicago, she worked in the business office and was associate/assistant director of financial aid at Mundelein College; and taught math at Madonna HS. She served the BVM congregation as administrative assistant to the secretary of the congregation and as volunteer in retirement. Sister was also a RUSH study participant.

She was preceded in death by her parents and brother Edward Shaughnessy. She is survived by brothers: David C. (Eileen) Shaughnessy (Schaumburg, Ill.); Terrence J. Shaughnessy (Arlington Heights, Ill.); and Rev. Thomas P. Shaughnessy, SSC (St. Columbans, Neb.); nieces; nephews; and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 66 years.

Sister Rosemary Shaughnessy, BVM (Gerald)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, Jan. 31, 2017

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Rosemary Shaughnessy.

Rosemary Shaughnessy entered this world on Oct. 24, 1929, as the second of five children, and the only daughter, born to Edward Francis and Joan Marie Schmitz Shaughnessy of Chicago, Ill. She joined a brother Edward while brothers David, Terrence and Thomas followed. As was often the case during the Depression, her father lost his job, but fortunately found a new one with Railway Express. Meanwhile, her mother cared for the children at home, obtaining part-time employment at a bank when they were older.

Rosemary graduated from The Immaculata High School in Chicago and worked for two years as an IBM operator in the office of the Northern Trust Company. After several years of consideration, she entered the congregation on Feb. 2, 1950, and received the name Gerald upon her reception on Aug. 15, 1950. She professed her first vows on Aug. 15, 1952 and died just five days before marking 67 years as a BVM.

Rosemary was a very gifted teacher, especially in the area of mathematics. For 17 years, she taught junior high students at St. Agatha, St. Eugene, and St. Tarcissus in Chicago and at Mary Queen of Heaven in Cicero, Ill. She served as superior and principal at St. Odilo in Berwyn, Ill., and taught math at Madonna HS in Chicago. She also worked 19 years in the financial aid offices at Mundelein College and Loyola University.

A former colleague wrote, “I came to Mundelein to manage the financial aid office in 1984, and then took on the Weekend College as well. Rosemary was a wonderful colleague and a model for how to serve students. I had not managed an entire operation before and she was a huge help on many fronts . . . [She] inspired me to persist in this field and focus much of my efforts on supporting working adults, particularly women. For that, I thank [her].

For five years, Rosemary served the BVM community as the administrative assistant to the secretary of the congregation. Before coming to the secretary’s office, she closed St. Tarcissus convent. The pastor offered the furniture to the congregation, so she arranged to have much of it shipped to Dubuque to furnish the Circle apartments that were under construction. She later lived in the apartments with Sister Jean Monica Lanahan. Together they enjoyed hosting many dinner parties. A delightful evening with a beautifully set table and a scrumptious meal awaited their guests. For larger affairs, the party moved to 940 D with Rosemary’s brother, Father Tom, often providing the meat.

Family was very important to Rosemary. After her mother moved to a care facility, she assumed the role of family representative and managing her mother’s finances while continuing to work at Mundelein. This service was but one of the many ways in which she supported her brothers and shared her fondness for them. Vacationing with them brought her to the Philippines, Rome, and the Outer Banks of South Carolina. She also traveled to the Holy Land and Ireland and made annual trips to the BVM property, the Spiders, to enjoy swimming and boating. Her love of travel perfectly matched her sense of curiosity. Upon returning from visiting her brother in Maryland, she enthusiastically imparted information about the state’s history like a docent.

Rosemary was known for her candor as well as her calming, easy disposition that allowed her to take things in stride. Her wry sense of humor put all in perspective, but one had to be sharp to catch it. She could be quite strict but she also could be lots of fun. During her novitiate days, she shared many funny stories about working with Sister Mary Celsa Riordin, BVM in the Motherhouse chapel. After a blizzard closed St. Odilo School, Rosemary, along other sisters, went for a walk in the snow. “We stopped at teachers’ homes,” recalled a sister. “[We] said we were out collecting milk money [and] we all had a good laugh.” Rosemary was a person for whom service meant a great deal; she quietly cared for many in need such as reading for those who could not see the print. One friend commented, “[She] was a lovely person and a joy to live with and to know.”

In an open letter to her set on their golden jubilee, Rosemary wrote, “What has happened to me over the years? I have learned much, and hope that it has translated into greater wisdom. I have prayed much and hope that I have deepened and strengthened my spirituality. I have lived with BVMs over the years and they all have taught me by their very lives and deaths. I have worked and played and traveled. I have been to other countries and observed other cultures—such enriching and sobering adventures.”

With the words of St. Paul, we bid farewell to our sister Rosemary as she sets off on her greatest adventure ever: “[We] give thanks to [our] God always, remembering you in [our] prayers.” Rosemary, may you find great joy abiding in the loving arms of Jesus.

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Louise Szkodzinski, BVM (Christiane)

Louise Szkodzinski, BVM (Christiane) died Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 10–11 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 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 Cicero, Ill., on Aug. 11, 1921, to Joseph and Mary Biestek Szkodzinski. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1947, from St. Pius Parish, Chicago. She professed first vows on March 19, 1950, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1955.

Louise taught music for many years on the college level in Dubuque and Chicago. She gave piano lessons in Phoenix, where she also served as music director and teacher. In later years she gave piano lessons in Chicago.

She was preceded in death by her parents and two sisters, Frances Narko and Cecilia Pugh. She is survived by a brother Jerome, Lockeford, Calif.; a sister Christine (Allan) Pitford, Paulden, Ariz.; nieces; nephews; and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 69 years.

Sister Louise Szkodzinski, BVM (Christiane)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, Jan. 25, 2017

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Louise Szkodzinski.

Ludovica (Louise) Szkodzinski was born on Aug. 8, 1921, in Cicero, Ill., to Joseph and Mary Biestek Szkodzinski. She joined older sisters Frances and Cecilia; a brother, Jerome, and a sister, Christine, later joined them. Her father emigrated from Poland in 1916 and married her mother two years later. Together they operated a bakery from 1922 until 1950 when they moved to California.

Polish was Louise’s first language. She learned to speak English while attending first grade at a public school. She discovered her musical talent in the second grade while taking piano lessons. In the sixth grade, Louise transferred to St. Pius Catholic School where she continued to study the piano and played for Masses and novenas. She attended St. Mary HS on a four-year piano scholarship and studied under Sister Virginia Gaume (Matilde).

While majoring in music at Mundelein College in Chicago, Louise studied under BVM Sisters Rafael Bird and Anna Ruth Bethke. After graduating, she taught music from kindergarten through eighth grade at Our Lady Help of Christians in Chicago, while maintaining a private piano studio and working in the family bakery. She won a scholarship with Rudolph Ganz, a Swiss pianist, conductor and composer, and graduated with a master’s degree in music from the Chicago Musical College. She taught music for three years in Chicago at Annunciation and Our Lady Help of Christians elementary schools before answering the call to consecrated life.

Louise entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1947. She received the name Christiane upon her reception on March 19, 1948. As a postulant and a novice, she taught piano, music appreciation, and music theory to members of her religious set. She professed her first vows on March 19, 1950, and lived 69 years as a BVM.

Louise taught music at St. Mary HS, Mundelein College, and Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa. She served as chairperson of the music department at Mundelein from 1958 to 1970 and was deeply involved in the Mundelein-Loyola Charismatic Prayer Group. Her degree of preparation and enthusiasm for her courses and dedication and concern for her students was total and unwavering. An innate teacher, she combined her teaching and performing abilities to give lecture-recitals in high schools throughout the Midwest. At the international level, she lectured at the Kraków Conservatory of Music in Poland.

Louise did her doctoral study at the University of Indiana under Hungarian Gyorgy Sebok, an internationally renowned pianist.She loved to combine study with travel. In addition to her time in Poland, she spent five weeks studying at the University of Vienna and enjoying the city where many of the great composers lived and thrived musically. She also participated in a prayer and study tour of Egypt, Israel and Rome.

Louise was the director of music at St. Ignatius Parish in Chicago. She also ministered as choir director at St. Benedict Parish in Montebello, Calif., while caring for her mother. After a traumatic earthquake disrupted her life there, she moved to Arizona where she served as a liturgical minister at St. Catherine of Sienna Parish, a Latino parish in Phoenix.

Louise was an amazing musician, a true artist. While she loved teaching, she loved performing even more. During her lifetime, she gave over 175 public performances in 10 states and Poland, and made appearances on both WGN in Chicago and ABC television. In an interview, Louise commented, “It just happened gradually . . . Because I taught at the college level for 39 years, I felt that I had to continue learning new piano repertoire. I teach much better those masterpieces that I myself have performed.”

Even after moving to Wright Hall in Chicago in 1996, she continued to teach piano. “My retirement years [here] have been some of the happiest of my whole life,” wrote Louise. “Piano teaching has always been a favorite activity. Now that we have a music room [at Wright Hall], I teach Suzuki piano to children and adults. I also coach two pianists who are already accomplished musicians in their own right, [which] encourages me to continue studying music technique and repertoire in light of their needs. I can honestly say that I am still learning how to teach and I continue to be stimulated.”

Louise had a strong work ethic and showed a consistent concern for high standards whether teaching or performing. She did everything with gusto. While some often missed her subtle sense of humor and clever wit, her contagious laugh never went unnoticed. She was passionate about learning and her passion inspired many students. She gave hope to others like herself who embraced the changes that swept through both the church and the congregation in the 1960s, while offering understanding to those who feared change.

As Louise looked back on her life, she reflected, “I am truly filled with gratitude for the many opportunities God has given me. The BVMs have been most generous in encouraging me to develop my musical talents.” Unfortunately, declining health in her later years stole her ability to do what she loved most. In the Gospel selected by Louise, Jesus said, “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?” No stretch of the imagination is needed to envision Louise seated at a grand piano in her heavenly music studio. Play on, Louise!

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Gracita Daly, BVM

Gracita Daly, BVM died Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 20, 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 Burlington, Iowa, on Sept. 18, 1924, to Patrick Frank and Grace Helen (Agnew) Daly. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1941, from St. John the Baptist Parish, Burlington, Iowa. She professed first vows on March 19, 1944, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1949.

Gracita taught elementary school and was principal in Davenport, Iowa; Lincoln, Neb.; West Hempstead, N.Y.; and Chicago and Berwyn, Ill., where she also served as parish minister. She volunteered for United Senior Action in Indianapolis, Ind.

She was preceded in death by her parents; sisters Mary C. Daly and Helen C. Luttenegger; and brothers Hugh and Mark. She is survived by nieces, nephews and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 75 years.

Sister Gracita Daly, BVM
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, Jan. 20, 2017

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Gracita Daly. We especially welcome her family and friends, her set members, Helen Emerson, and all who view this service on closed circuit TV or through videostreaming.

Eleanor Daly entered this world on Sept. 18, 1924, as the youngest of five children born to Patrick and Grace (Agnew) Daly of Burlington, Iowa. She joined siblings Mary, Hugh, Mark and Helen. Eleanor’s father left school to go to work after the fourth grade due to his father’s death. Her mother graduated from Lourdes Academy, which later became St. Paul HS and then Notre Dame HS. With the help of Eleanor’s mother, her father earned a certificate from Iowa State College through correspondence courses and became a gas engineer.

Eleanor attended St. John ES and graduated from St. Paul HS. She entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1941, and received the name Gracita upon her reception on March 19, 1942. She professed her first vows on March 19, 1944, and lived 75 years as a BVM.

In her life story, Gracita fondly recalled memories of her early years as a BVM: spending summers at the Immaculate Conception Academy in Davenport, Iowa, and commuting to St. Ambrose College to earn a bachelor of arts degree. “Summer school was very good for us. We laughed a lot, shared our early teaching experiences and made lasting friendships . . . To this day,” she wrote, “when I meet a BVM from those days at St. Ambrose, we pick up where we left off and again have very meaningful sharing.”

Gracita spent 36 years in education, teaching elementary and junior high grades at St. Odilo in Berwyn, Ill.; Blessed Sacrament and Holy Family in Chicago; Immaculate Conception and St. Anthony in Davenport; St. Francis Xavier in Kansas City, Mo.; and St. John in Lincoln, Neb. She also served as principal at St. John in Lincoln, St. Anthony in Davenport, and St. Thomas the Apostle in West Hempstead, N.Y., which was one of her favorite missions.

“The church and school were built on property in the heart of the downtown,” she wrote. “[M]any [students] lived above the stores or along the railroad tracks. At least one-third of the students were transfers . . . and many were very poor. Their parents thought that if they had a grade school education that was quite enough. Times were changing, so I tried to make them see the importance of at least finishing high school.”

Long after retiring, Gracita received a letter from a woman whom she hired as a teacher. She wrote, “Each year I try to thank a person who has made a difference in my life. You certainly were one of those people. You hired me to teach . . . [and] you let me make mistakes without criticism. From you, I learned administrative skills and by watching you, I learned about allowing people to grow into a job. I was such a scared kid then but you just accepted me and encouraged me. Thank you for your understanding and patience.”

From 1974–79, as a patient representative for Marian Hall residents, Gracita planned numerous activities. She initiated the audiotaping of the BVM Constitutions and related materials, companioned sisters to the hospital, provided ministry of presence for the dying, and kept in touch with their families. One hundred ten sisters died during her five-year ministry. “One would think that constant association with the sick and elderly . . . would be very demanding,” wrote Gracita. “Yet, love does these things . . . I left a big part of my heart there when I left.”

In 1986, Gracita returned to St. Odilo in Berwyn to serve as pastoral associate in charge of coordinating adult faith formation. During this time, she reconnected with a former student when that woman’s mother died. Without siblings or even cousins, she would have been alone at the funeral home. Gracita decided to forego a planned retreat weekend to be present with her. “Sister Gracita Daly was a good teacher,” wrote the former student, “and an even [better] friend.”

In 1991, Gracita moved to Indianapolis at the invitation of Sister Pat Griffin, BVM who was ministering there, and had the expectation of resting after her golden jubilee celebrations. Instead, she accepted a position with United Senior Action. Traveling an eight-county region of Indiana, Gracita located seniors who, despite receiving Social Security, were still living below poverty level, and signed them up to receive Supplemental Security Income. Funded by an 18-month grant, Gracita, along with eight other people, enrolled over 4,000 seniors. After the grant ended, Gracita continued working with United Senior Action as a volunteer to influence legislation and program funding to aid seniors.

Her ministry to seniors continued in an unofficial capacity when she moved to Wright Hall and later to Mount Carmel. “Availability to other’s needs is so necessary,” she wrote. “Ministering . . . to one another may not look like a special mission, because it takes only a pleasant smile and much gratitude.” She truly loved people, and it was her welcoming smile and playful nature that opened the door to many beautiful relationships. She never took anyone for granted; an expression of gratitude awaited every service or kindness she received.

Gracita was a woman full of life. A love of nature and travel called her to the National Parks in the western United States and to Alaska. She also toured Europe extensively. Still, she enjoyed simple things like going for a ride, playing computer games and cards, and chocolate—especially chocolate.

Gracita also loved being with her extensive family, many of whom are no strangers to Mount Carmel because the annual family reunion was relocated here so that Gracita’s birthday celebration could be a part of it.

“Gracita was a prayerful woman who daily renewed her vows as part of her morning offering. She once said, “The theme song of my relationship with God has always been, ‘I know you love me everlastingly and unconditionally. I place my trust in you.’” In the Gospel, we hear “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.” Gracita was “clean of heart.” She loved God with her whole being and everything she did was an expression of that love. So with confidence and great gratitude, we bid our sister Gracita farewell as she enters into eternal life and sees the face of God.

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Vincentia Kaeferstein, BVM

Vincentia Kaeferstein, BVM died Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 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 Welton, Iowa, on Feb. 13, 1914, to William Gustave and Bernadine Josephine (Brass) Kaeferstein. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1931, from St. Ireneaus Parish, Clinton, Iowa. She professed first vows on March 19, 1934, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1939.

Vincentia taught at Clarke University from 1963–1984. Prior to then, she was an elementary and secondary school teacher and also served as principal in Maywood and Chicago, Ill.; Casper, Wyo.; and Dubuque, Council Bluffs, and Des Moines, Iowa. After retirement, she volunteered at Mount Carmel and Clarke University in Dubuque, where she was part of the mentor program.

She was preceded in death by her parents; sisters: Ursula Hahn, Margaret Staats, and Jeanne Bloom; and brothers William, Hugh and Carl. She is survived by nieces, nephews and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 85 years.

Sister Vincentia Kaeferstein, BVM
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall Chapel, Jan. 18, 2017

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of Sister Vincentia Kaeferstein.

Vincentia died on “Friday the 13th,” exactly one month short of her 103rd birthday. Coincidentally, she was born in Welton, Iowa, as Lillian Mary Kaeferstein on Friday the 13th in February 1914. She arrived on a bitterly cold day during a blinding snowstorm. She was the second daughter and fourth child of seven children born to William Gustave and Bernadine Brass Kaeferstein. One brother, Hugh, died of pneumonia as a young child and another brother, Carl, died while fighting in the South Pacific during World War II.

In her autobiography, she wrote, “We were a very poor family, living through the Great Depression, and struggling to keep body and soul together. My parents sacrificed a great deal to give us a good Catholic education, and by their example, taught us to value the things that really count.”

Lillian began her education in a country school near DeWitt, Iowa, until the family moved to a farm in Lyons, Iowa, now known as Clinton. She then attended St. Irenaeus grade school and later Our Lady of the Angels Academy.

When Lillian was in third grade, she received a rather prophetic message. “Sister Mary Vincentia Byrne was principal at St. Irenaeus at the time,” she later wrote. “She said to me one day, ‘When you are old enough to become a sister, I will be old enough to die, and you can be Sister Mary Vincentia the Second.’ Sister died in November 1930, when I was a senior in high school. I entered the BVMs the following September [8], 1931, and on Reception Day [March 19, 1932] received the name Sister Mary Vincentia . . . I was privileged to possess Sister’s Bible until the fire at Clarke University destroyed all my personal belongings—a real stripping of all attachments to things I cherished.” She professed her first vows on March 19, 1934, and lived 85 years as a BVM. Her niece, Sister Dolores Hahn, entered in 1944 and died in 2008.

Vincentia spent 22 years teaching elementary students at St. Eulalia in Maywood, Ill.; St. Ferdinand in Chicago, Ill.; St. Anthony in Casper, Wyo.; and St. Anthony in Dubuque, Iowa. She taught high school courses at St. Francis Xavier in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and St. Joseph Academy in Des Moines, Iowa. She also served as superior and principal at St. Anthony in Dubuque and St. Joseph Academy in Des Moines. She began teaching biology at Clarke University, Dubuque, in 1963 and remained there for 21 years.

Vincentia had a tremendous impact on those she taught. For her 100th birthday, former students—driven by love, respect and admiration—showered her with cards. Their greetings called her a motivating teacher, an inspiration and a gift, noting her gentleness and kindness. One wrote, “Because of you I always loved school.” Another praised her as “a disciplinarian, teacher extraordinaire, and a model of fairness seldom seen today.” A third beautifully noted, “You provided us with an outstanding education and planted the seeds of faith that have taken root in so many of our lives.”

Vincentia retired from teaching in 1984 and eventually moved to Mount Carmel in 1995, where she stayed active volunteering at Clarke University and at Marian Hall. She visited the sisters, served as a reader and letter writer, participated in a mentoring program at Clarke, and taught bridge at Mount Carmel’s Roberta Kuhn Center, an appropriate activity for an incisive bridge player. She was quoted in a Salt article as saying, “Retirement need not be and should not be a time of inactivity, but a source of creativity, a time to show compassion and love for those who need our help and in doing so, show our love of God in the persons we meet each day. May the Christ-in-us meet the Christ-in-others.” Clearly, she profoundly believed that the message of Jesus in today’s Gospel applied to all people: “I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.”

Vincentia was a beautiful person inside and out, a soft-spoken, steady woman who touched so many lives. Her wonderful humor and delightful laugh brought joy to the people who knew her. The numerous letters to “Aunt Lil” testify to the deep and constant love of her nieces and nephews.

“I would like to be remembered,” she wrote, “as a faith-filled BVM capable of bringing others closer to God by my acts of kindness, thoughtfulness and prayerfulness.” Mission accomplished, Vinnie! Yours was a life well lived. We rejoice for you and with you as enter into eternal life.

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Mary Frances Shafer, BVM (Francis Edward)

Mary Frances Shafer, BVM (Francis Edward), 90, died Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, at the Caritas Center, Mount Carmel, in Dubuque, Iowa.

Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 9, 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.

Mary Frances served as president of the BVM congregation from 1980–84 and as vice president from 1976–80. She was director of admissions and Scholasticate director for the congregation and served as liturgist at Mount Carmel.

“Mary Frances Shafer’s leadership was marked by a commitment to the renewal of religious life, a dedication to the education of lay ministers, and a quest for justice and peace,” says Helen Maher Garvey, BVM (Robert Joseph). “She pursued this course with gentleness, courage and kindness.”

She taught theology at Clarke University and eighth grade at Holy Family ES in Mason City. She also taught elementary school and was principal in Pontiac and Chicago, Ill.; St. Louis, Mo.; and Wichita, Kan. She served as administrative assistant to superintendent of schools, Kansas City; director of lay ministry for the Diocese of Great Falls, Mont.; and as personnel director for the Diocese of Joliet, Ill.

She was born in Kansas City, Mo., on July 15, 1926, daughter of Frank Edward and Mary M. Aigner Shafer. She entered the BVM congregation on Sept. 8, 1943. She made her first profession of vows on March 19, 1946, and her final profession on Aug. 15, 1951.

She was preceded in death by her parents, four brothers and five sisters. She is survived by nieces and nephews; and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with whom she shared life for 73 years.

Mary Frances Shafer, BVM (Frances Edward)
President, Sisters of Charity, BVM, 1980–84
Eulogy by Helen Maher Garvey, BVM (Robert Joseph)
Mount Carmel, Dubuque, Iowa
Jan. 9, 2016

On behalf of the BVM congregation, I welcome BVMs watching on videostream and on our local channel. We thank hospice and the nurses, aides and activity personnel on the fourth floor for their devoted, sensitive care of Mary Frances and as she lived out her final years.

We appreciate the special fidelity to Mary Frances of Msgr. Barta, Msgr. Toale, and BVMs Deanna Carr (Bernita), Mary Ellen Caldwell (Eugenio), Margaret Mear (Jacoba) and Bernadette McManigal (Lucinus).

Mary Frances Shafer was born July 15, 1926, youngest of the 10 children of Frank Edward and Anna Maria (“Mary”) Aigner Shafer. She was born in Kansas City, Mo., at a time when the United States was on the brink of the Depression. Despite the times, Mary Frances admitted enjoying many childhood “perks” in the Shafer household and her allowance was frequently augmented by doting sisters and brothers!

Following in the steps of older sisters Ann Mary and Rose, Mary Frances made up her mind to enter the BVM ommunity she so admired. She submitted her application, including the results of her physical, and was “devastated” when Mother Mary Josita refused to admit her for reasons of health. With typical determination, and with support from family and friends, she sought a second opinion and her new doctor helpfully agreed that she would thrive in the “regulated life” of a community. (And thrive she did, but whether the life was to be all that “regulated” remained to be seen!)

Who was Mary Frances Shafer?

I did not know her very well when I came to Dubuque for an orientation after our election as vice presidents in 1976. We were driving together to some event and Mary Frances started singing; she continued singing; she found new tunes; she continued singing. I did not know the songs. I did not know the tunes. I did not know anyone who sang with such enthusiasm. “Well,” I thought, “It is going to be a long four years.” Little did I know that these songs echoed the soul of a holy woman who would bring me into the arc of her own generous, lyrical spirit.

We could describe her by the geography of her life—Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Montana. Her ministries are a testimony to her openness of spirit, a willingness to respond to the challenge of our Constitutions “to live in any part of the world where there is promise of furthering the mission of Jesus.”

We could describe her by the variety of her ministries—elementary school teacher, professor of theology, director of formation, president of the BVM congregation, diocesan director of lay ministry, diocesan director of personnel, director of liturgy. We can imagine her as a young, newly professed sister teaching arithmetic in the seventh grade at Presentation Parish School on the west side of Chicago. We can imagine her as the creator of the lay ministry program, traveling icy roads across the length and breadth of eastern Montana, teaching over 400 parishioners from 1986–1995. We can imagine her here in Dubuque as a retired working resident, making each liturgy a special occasion.

We could describe her by the depths of her scholarship. That scholarship characterized her presentations at Clarke University, at the lay ministry program in eastern Montana, and as president of the BVM congregation. Her work stands the test of time, enriching us all with keen analysis of the spirit of Vatican II. Such thoroughness and care compelled her to edit letters to the congregation, or any document, with a rigor that sent its authors back to the drawing board time and again. More than once Eileen McGovern, BVM and I begged for grammatical mercy!

We could describe her by her humanity. She loved being the youngest of 10 children. She enjoyed being a little spoiled as a child. On the other hand, she found it hard being the last living member of her family. She could drink coke, eat candy, and party with the best of us. She could make fudge for a lonely student on sabbatical. She could say about her ministry in formation, “I found it ‘challenging,’ ‘difficult’ and ultimately ‘disappointing.’” She could engage any small child anywhere with an intuitive understanding.

We could describe her by her spirituality. Mary Frances Shafer’s spirituality was expressed not only in the theology she taught so well and in the prayer that she breathed so faithfully, but in the suffering she bore so graciously. She was, as the poet says, “still under the weathers of God’s will, and had no hurt surprise when morning’s ruddy promise died.”

We could describe her as a deep responder to Vatican II, a prophetic witness to religious life. She expressed the conviction that:

We are witnessing and participating in an evolution of religious life that is as radical and far-reaching as the evolution from the hermitage to the cloister, or from the monastic to the apostolic life. Together, let us beg God to make us all “fit instruments in His (her) hands.”

(Women of Jubilee, Address to the BVM Congregation delivered on the 150th Jubilee of the BVM Congregation, 1980.)

But she was so much more than these separate categories. Mary Frances Shafer was one of the cloud of witnesses. She was and is a holy woman, one who continuously sought the love of Christ. Mary Frances had her priorities straight from the beginning. Writing on her application to the congregation in May, 1943, she declared: “I wish to be a sister in order to gain a greater knowledge and love of Christ and to help others to be closer to Him.”

As Mary Frances grew into her vocation, and as the call of Vatican II intensified, that desire to love Christ matured into a love that seeks justice and peace. On the occasion of the dedication of the Mary Frances Shafer Library in 1980 she declared:

To the extent that we remain true to the reality of the Lord's call, we will spend our future promoting gospel values in a world which rejects them as naive and impractical. Within a society which treasures material prosperity, we will live simply. In the face of apathy and hypocrisy, we will speak the truth which Jesus has promised will set all free. Through personal and congregational witness, we will share a solid, vibrant faith with people haunted by doubt. Whatever the shape of our ministry, we will work to eradicate the roots of injustice within ourselves, our congregation, the church and the world.

She lived this commitment to justice as she marched for the nuclear freeze, spoke out publicly for peace, and acted daily for the poor. Mary Frances Shafer’s leadership was marked by a quest for justice and peace. She pursued this course with gentleness, courage and devotion. In all of her experience, she understood the journey to death and the meaning of it all. At the time of her sister Erma’s death, Mary Frances wrote in a letter to BVM Mary McCauley:

Erma's death brought release for her from a debilitating and crueldisease(Alzheimer's). Italsobrought thepain ofpartingoncemoreto Helen, Genevieve andme. We are the three left of the eight children who survived infancy. It is wonderful to be the youngest while growing up. To be the youngest at this point in life is a different story. However,God is very near and, I'm sure, is using all my experiences to draw me closer every day. One day my death will be natural to me and simply be the final and decisive choice of God.

 (Excerpt from a letter of Mary Frances Shafer to Mary McCauley on the occasion of her sister Erma’s death. September 1993)

Nonetheless, Mary Frances, ever sensitive to the call of God, not only to herself, but also to the BVM congregation, spoke often of the future. Back in 1980, when she delivered the 150th Jubilee Address to the BVM congregation, Mary Frances extolled Mary Frances Clarke’s steady consideration of the future. Mary Frances Shafer and Mary Frances Clarke might well be speaking to us today:

Given our identity and our values . . . I can’t imagine that she (Mary Frances Clarke) had an exalted vision of some aesthetically-pleasing version of faith life in the United States. I think, rather, that in her practical Irish wisdom, she made a solid assessment of the facts at hand, evaluated the situation of God’s people in our country, and was prompted to make an intelligent response that sprang from closeness to God and sensitivity to the urges of the Spirit. In so doing she established a pattern for us to follow and gave an example of genuine trust that God would provide for those who use their human gifts and talents to determine a course of action aimed at bringing the kingdom of God closer to complete fulfillment.

This congregational future promised some fearsome losses for Mary Frances personally. Struggle and humiliation lay ahead, a time of frustration and patient endurance, a time of grace and light. But these times have rarely ever been without a song. Even while attending the recent Christmas party, she sang “White Christmas” one last time with perfect pitch! Song and poetry marked the life and the final days of Mary Frances Shafer—Christian, religious, scholar, minister, leader, friend, wounded one, holy woman.

And though she walks in rags and tatters
Her face is to a sunset turned.
And what she has no longer matters
Before this light that she has learned.

 —Jessica Powers, OCD

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Frances Ann Schaeffer, BVM (Louis)

Frances Ann Schaeffer, BVM (Louis), 84, died Monday, Dec. 26, 2016, at the Mount Carmel Motherhouse in Dubuque, Iowa.

A private Rite of Committal and Natural Burial will be held Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016. There will be no visitation. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery. A sharing of memories will be held at 10:45 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, followed by a funeral liturgy.

She was born in Davenport on Sept. 25, 1932, to Louis Charles and Frieda (Karstens) Schaeffer. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1956, from St. Paul Parish, Davenport, Iowa. She professed first vows on Feb. 3, 1959, and final vows on July 16, 1964.

Frances Ann worked in the sewing room at the Mount Carmel Motherhouse. She taught elementary school in Davenport and Iowa City, Iowa; and Chattanooga, Tenn., where she was also Montessori Kindergarten teacher and director. She was student and teacher-aide, and teacher intern in Kansas City, Mo. She volunteered for the Edmundite Missions in Alabama.

She is preceded in death by her parents; brothers Louis Albert and Robert Anthony; and sisters Catherine Mary Schmidt and Margaret Alice Schaeffer. She is survived by nieces, nephews and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 60 years.

Sister Frances Ann Schaeffer, BVM (Louis)
Memorial Mass Welcome
Marian Hall, Jan. 4, 2017

Good morning and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Frances Ann Schaeffer.

Frances Ann Schaeffer was born on Sept. 25, 1932, the youngest child of Louis Charles and Frieda Karstens Schaeffer of Davenport, Iowa. She had two brothers, Louis Albert and Robert Anthony, and two sisters, Catherine Mary and Margaret Alice. Unfortunately, Robert Anthony and Margaret Alice died before Frances Ann was born.

Her mother, who was born in Schleswig, Germany, converted to Catholicism, attended daily Mass and shared her faith and love of God with her children. About her father, a Davenport native, Frances Ann wrote, “My father’s formal schooling was limited to grade school at Sacred Heart, Davenport, Iowa, where the BVMs prepared him well for his life. Not only was he a man of deep faith and convictions but he had much practical knowhow as well.”

Frances Ann attended St. Paul the Apostle grade school and was inspired into service by her third grade teacher S.M. Brigetta McNamara. Along with her classmate, Sister Mary M. O’Connor (Bertille), she prepared breakfast for Catholic children from a nearby orphanage who attended Mass at St. Paul. Because of the Communion fast required at that time, without that breakfast the children would have gone hungry until the noon meal. Her concern for other people, especially the poor, only deepened through the years. After recuperating from a double knee replacement in 2004, she moved to Selma, Ala., to volunteer with the Edmundite Missions that served people living in poverty in rural areas.

While a student at Immaculate Conception Academy, Frances Ann was lovingly encouraged by S.M. Helen Therese Kiley to considered religious life with the BVMs. However, following her mother’s advice to wait, Frances Ann worked six years at Mercy Hospital and the West Davenport Clinic which, in her words, “gave me the needed maturity to make the decision.” She entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1956, and received the name Louis upon her reception on March 19, 1957. She professed her first vows on Feb. 3, 1959, and lived 60 years as a BVM.

As a novice, Frances Ann was assigned to the sewing room, where she proved to be a talented seamstress. She was sent to the Scholasticate in Chicago to study after her profession, only to be called back to the Motherhouse a few months later to help sew habits for an exceptionally large set about to make vows. “Living and working at Mount Carmel for the next three years brought many spiritual insights and blessings,” commented Frances Ann. For the rest of her life, she generously shared this marvelous gift by repairing clothing and responding to special sewing requests.

Frances Ann began her ministry in education in 1964, teaching first grade at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Chattanooga, Tenn. Missions at St. Patrick and St. Mary in Iowa City, Iowa; and St. Paul in Davenport followed. After completing a teaching internship at Bishop Helmsing Early Childhood Center in Kansas City, Mo., she taught Montessori kindergarten in Chattanooga, Tenn., for seven years and then served as its director for an additional 13 years. With her gentleness and patience, she was absolutely wonderful with the little ones.

Frances Ann remained active after moving to Mount Carmel, joining committees and participating in numerous activities. As a distributor of the “Mall in the Hall,” she made sure clothes were washed and repaired before making them available. She also volunteered at the BVM Center receptionist desk. As a dedicated member of the Schola, she sang for the crib blessing and Christmas Eve Mass just two days before her death.

Frances Ann touched the hearts of many because of her true goodness. “The kindest woman I ever met,” declared one set member. She preferred to do her acts of kindness quietly behind the scenes. A friend commented, “Nobody except God knows everything she did.” Probably every woman here has received a Frances Ann greeting: “Hello, pretty lady!” Her address was so natural and genuine that each recipient felt like the only beautiful one. Everyone was the object of her affection—a true characteristic of a loving person who lived a centered and deeply spiritual life.

Almost four years ago, Frances Ann faced cancer with incredible courage, determination, grit and trust in both her doctor and God. After a grueling course of chemotherapy, she wrote, “My deepest gratitude to each and every one of you who have prayed for me . . . Please know that every prayer, card, visit, phone call, and message is very much treasured . . . Every moment of life means so much more than I could ever have imagined. Every breath becomes a prayer of gratitude.”

In the first reading from Isaiah we hear: “Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! . . . Let us rejoice and be glad that God has saved us!” Frances Ann did rejoice and emerged from the ordeal even more cheerful, thoughtful and generous. She was not only healed, but she healed others with her graciousness and love.

When her set celebrated 60 years in September, Frances Ann surprised each member with a beautiful card containing a promise: On the set member’s birthday, Frances Ann would remember her at Mass and make a holy hour of Adoration for her intentions. Surely death will not stop Frances Ann from keeping that promise.

Upon learning of her death, as a sign of deep respect and pure love, her set members and the residents on her floor immediately gathered outside her room and sang “Jesus Light of All the World.” Frances Ann was a light, her heart a holy place, her life grace-filled.

Frances Ann, thank you being a blessing to all of us. You are and will continue to be greatly missed. Rest in peace, pretty lady.

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Claire Marie McLevy, BVM (Clarene)

Claire Marie McLevy, BVM (Clarene), 92, died Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 23, 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 Kansas City, Mo., on Aug. 4, 1924, to Clare and Claire (Walker) McLevy. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1942, from St. Aloysius Parish, Kansas City. She professed first vows on March 19, 1945, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1950.

Claire Marie was an elementary school teacher in Chicago; St. Louis, Mo., Kansas City, Mo.; and Montrose, Calif. She was also a staff worker at Wright Hall, a BVM residence in Chicago.

She is preceded in death by her parents and brother John McLevy. She is survived by a cousin and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with whom she shared life for 74 years.

Sister Claire Marie, BVM (Clarene)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, Dec. 23, 2016

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Claire Marie McLevy.

Virginia McLevy was born on Aug. 4, 1924, the first of two children born to Clare and Claire (Walker) McLevy from Kansas City, Mo. Her brother John completed the family. Her father was a very quiet man who was a clerk at the McKesson Drug Company. Her mother also worked at McKesson until the two met and were married.

Virginia attended St. Aloysius school, as did Sister Ann Regina Dobel, BVM, who, being several years older, had actually pushed Virginia in her baby carriage. Virginia loved high school, especially participating in basketball, school plays, glee club, and playing trumpet in the school band. In an interview, she said, “Being a Sister was far from my thoughts. I expected to go to Hollywood.” After graduation, Virginia worked one year for Hallmark and an insurance company while discerning her vocation.

Virginia entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1942, and received the name Clarene upon her reception on March 19, 1943. She professed her first vows on March 19, 1945, and lived 74 years as a BVM.

Claire Marie taught kindergarten through fourth grade for 41 years. She was missioned at Our Lady of the Angels in Chicago; St Frances Xavier in St. Louis, and Holy Redeemer in Montrose, Calif. In addition, she ministered for 31 years in Kansas City, Mo., teaching at Christ the King, St. Vincent, St. Therese, St. Frances Xavier, and St. Catherine.

Her first mission at Our Lady of the Angels was her favorite. “There were many young Sisters there at the time,” she commented. “Sisters Eileen Duggan, Geraldine Moorman, [and] Aimee O’Neill. She was a scream. Sister Mary St. William Welsh was the wonderful superior. One day she said to me, ‘Clarabelle, you are going to DePaul for summer school.’ The name Clarabelle stuck for many years. While at OLA I had 68 pupils in the third grade even though I knew nothing about teaching third grade. A retired sister taught me phonics and a sister who was recuperating helped me. In time I felt comfortable teaching . . . I was a happy teacher.”

Unfortunately, she suffered the devastating loss of her mother during her first year at OLA. Her father also died at a rather young age. With both parents deceased, Claire Marie alone carried a great concern for her brother, who struggled with health issues his entire adult life and lived in a Kansas City care facility until his death in 1998. The loss of her immediate family left a deep loneliness in her heart.

After retiring from teaching, Claire Marie volunteered at the Willis Adult Care in Des Moines, Iowa, and was absolutely wonderful in her interactions with the clients. Later she moved to Wright Hall in Chicago, where she lived for 24 years. While there, she took advantage of art classes being offered by Sister Mary Eustella Fau. A couple of her paintings are here at Mount Carmel.

Claire Marie was a free spirit. Although very private regarding personal matters, her persona was delightful. Her sparkling blue eyes matched a lively personality that craved to be with people. She enjoyed parties and going out to eat. One of her favored events at Mount Carmel was the monthly social in the Caritas dining room. She loved conversation, laughter, dancing and singing and knew all the words to the hits of the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s. Of course, there was no place better than Kansas City for this native. If her sports’ teams were playing, she was sure to be rooting them on. While enjoying her favorite activities, one was sure to hear her say with a dramatic flair, “Isn’t this wonderful!”

Claire Marie weathered her share of difficult times, but was a happy person overall. Although a bit of a procrastinator, if there was something she really wanted, she could make it happen. When seeking quieter moments, she delighted in viewing nature’s beauty via a ride around a lake or a trip to the botanical gardens. She lived a full, active life, even to her last day when she had planned to visit the Cathedral in Dubuque.

Claire Marie always spoke highly about the Mount Carmel staff. “The nurses and aides here have been very good to me,” she said. “I am grateful.” She loved her BVM sisters but was greatly saddened by the recent deaths on her floor. Today’s first reading from Isaiah reminds us that “the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces.” We continue this celebration of life confident that Claire Marie is attending the best party of her life, “a feast of rich food and choice wines” in heaven. Enjoy, Claire Marie!

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Jane McDonnell, BVM (Bonaventure)

Jane McDonnell, BVM, 95, died Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 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 Marshalltown, Iowa, on March 17, 1921, to James Anthony and Mary P. Oliver McDonnell. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1943, from Corpus Christi Parish, Fort Dodge, Iowa. She professed first vows on March 19, 1946, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1951.

Jane was on the faculty of Clarke University, Dubuque; and served in parish ministry at St. Edward Parish in Waterloo, Iowa. She was a secondary school teacher in Sioux City, Iowa; Chicago; and Glendale, Calif. She served in pastoral ministry in Medicine Lake, Mont.; Minot, N. D.; and Chicago.

She is preceded in death by her parents and sisters: Catherine Louise Sheehy, Billie Joanne Rodenborn, and Elizabeth Kiefer. She is survived by nieces, nephews and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with whom she shared life for 72 years.

Sister Jane McDonnell, BVM (Bonaventure)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, Sept. 6, 2016

 Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Jane McDonnell.

Mary Jane McDonnell entered this world on St. Patrick’s Day in 1921, the perfect day to be born for a woman who was proud of her Irish ancestry. She was the first child of James Anthony and Mary P. (Oliver) McDonnell of Marshalltown, Iowa. After the birth of her sister Catherine, the family moved to Fort Dodge, Iowa, where Billie and Betsy joined the family.

Jane’s father worked as a boiler and radiator salesman and was frequently on the road. During the week, her mother held down the fort. Jane described her as “a hard worker and serious, very devoted to duty, but very loving when she thought that the proper approach. She would keep a list of our transgressions and present the list to Dad on his return. He would immediately hand out correction, reproofs or harder punishments, depending on the offense. He called it ‘supporting Mom,’ and it was.”

“I was a tomboy when I was young—loved any game that used a ball, but [I] liked reading and writing just as much as sports. I loved my father’s stories and the wonderful world of books. All these preoccupations made my early life full and interesting.” Her father instilled in her a love of history saying, “We’re Irish, so we like history.” Before leaving town, he would assign a chapter from a history book which they would discuss upon his return. “It was wonderful to spend [those] hours with him,” she commented.

Jane attended Corpus Christi Academy in Fort Dodge. “I got an excellent education from the [BVMs] who taught there,” she wrote. “They were good teachers. Best in my life was [Sister M.] St. Miriam [Casey], my English teacher. She gave me lots of extra work, carefully guided but not censored . . . When I graduated I was probably as good a prose writer as I am now [many decades later].” Jane continued her education at Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa, on a scholarship and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English and history.

Being a religious never entered Jane’s mind until the spring of her senior year in college. She had planned her life—write for a newspaper, then a magazine and then, down the line, write books. “All of a sudden, an urgent inner voice spoke to me about going to Mount Carmel,” she wrote. “I couldn’t believe it, got short of breath when I allowed myself to consider the path.”

Jane entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1943, and received the name Bonaventure upon her reception on March 19, 1944. Before entering the novitiate, her postulate mistress, Sister M. Angelice Sullivan, gave her some good advice. “[She] wanted me to promise her that I would be attentive to and a student of BVM history through my life. She had the feeling that it would be most important to me,” recalled Jane. “The promise she exacted was a solemn one.” Jane professed first vows on March 19, 1946, and lived 72 years as a BVM.

Jane taught high school English for 13 years at Cathedral in Sioux City, Iowa; The Immaculata in Chicago; and Holy Family in Glendale, Calif. She supervised students involved in journalism and often started writing clubs.

One experience while living in Glendale left a huge impression on her. She wrote, “There was to be testing of atomic weapons in the desert, over the mountains and about 300 miles from Glendale. The explosion would be big, the papers said. I got up about 4 a.m., went to the patio. The sky lighted up for several minutes and I heard a dull explosion. It horrified me. I never forgot that, prayed about it, decided that I needed to commit myself to some peace/nonviolent group, and joined the Fellowship of Reconciliation . . . [which] later became Pax Christi.”

Jane returned to Iowa in 1959 to teach literature and theology at Clarke University. “It meant a lot to me to be asked to teach at my alma mater,” she shared. A former Clarke student wrote, “I always respected her intellect, her sense of justice, and her ability to have a good laugh.”

In 1979, Jane transitioned into parish ministry serving in Waterloo, Iowa; Medicine Lake, Mont.; and Minot, N.D. She also worked as the coordinator of an ecumenical peace and justice organization in Chicago. She returned to live at Mount Carmel in 1990 and spent the next 19 years as a volunteer researcher and writer in the BVM archives, calling it “a wonderful and exiting way to cap my interests.”

Jane wrote, “One of the great interests of my life is, and always has been, writing—poetry, non-fiction information articles, feature stories, opinion pieces, etc. It is an interest, mainly, I suspect, because it matches a talent and an urge I have that is God-given. Like anyone who writes, I find it hard work, but the satisfaction I derive from it is relaxing, clarifying, and a way of exploring myself and my world that is right for me.”

Jane penned over 2,000 poems, of which over 500 have been published along with numerous nonfiction articles and book and theatre reviews. Writing for BVM Vista and Salt provided her the opportunity to practice historical writing. She also served as an editor for Salt and Charting BVM History 1833–1983. About the impact of her work, Jane wrote, “Hopefully these pieces will contribute one little mosaic to BVM history, as these pieces have helped to shape the mosaic of my own life.”

Reflecting on her religious vocation, Jane wrote, “Religious life is about a growing relationship with God as Father and Mother, with Jesus as Savior and Lover, with the Holy Spirit as the One who enlightens . . . and teaches.” Her relationship with Jesus is beautifully reflected in her choice of Song of Songs as the first reading: “My lover speaks; he says to me, ‘Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come!’” How long she waited for Jesus to call her home! What joy must fill her soul!

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Laurian McDonald, BVM

Laurian McDonald, BVM, 87, died Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016, at Caritas Center in Dubuque, Iowa. Arrangements are pending. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.

She was born in Alhambra, Calif., on Nov. 9, 1928, to Lawrence and Laura McCall McDonald. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1947, from Our Lady of Sorrows Parish, Santa Barbara, Calif. She professed first vows on March 19, 1950, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1955.

Laurian was an elementary school and religious education teacher in Phoenix, Ariz.; Kansas City, Mo.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; and Glendale, Petaluma and Santa Ana, Calif. She served in pastoral ministry and adult education in Mesa, Ariz., and in parish ministry and as director of religious education in Glendale, Calif.

She is preceded in death by her parents and brother Lawrence. She is survived by a sister Gloria Foley (Edward), San Jose, Calif.; nieces; nephews;  and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with whom she shared life for 69 years.

Sister Laurian McDonald, BVM
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, Oct. 11, 2016

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Laurian McDonald.

Phyllis Ann McDonald was born on Nov. 9, 1928, in Alhambra, Calif., the second of three children of Lawrence and Laura Minerva (McCall) McDonald. Her father was a native of Jefferson, Iowa, who remained in California after serving in the army during World War I. Her mother was a native of Pennsylvania who went to California to care for her aunt. As a convert to Catholicism, her mother lived an inspiring faith life and made many sacrifices to send her children to Catholic schools.

During the Depression, her father moved the family north to Santa Barbara to find employment. In 1940, the BVMs went to Santa Barbara to establish a coeducational school. In her autobiography, Phyllis wrote, “The BVMs who pioneered this mission were great women, and it warms my memory . . . to recall their names and the role they played in our lives . . . [Sisters] Paul Joseph Pollard, Elrita Archer, Austin Dehnert, Denis Gregory, and Agnes Celine Stokes were members of the first BVM group who planted the seeds of love and gratitude for the BVM congregation.”

After graduating from Santa Barbara Catholic, Phyllis worked as a correspondence clerk for an insurance company for almost a year before pursuing her religious vocation. She entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1947, and received the name Laurian upon her reception on March 19, 1948. Although Laurian entered with her parents’ blessing, her mother felt personal pain at the separation. However, after visiting Mount Carmel in 1948, her mother said she would never doubt her daughter’s decision and life choice again. Laurian professed her first vows on March 19, 1950, and lived 69 years as a BVM.

While her profession was a time of great joy, the events prior to her final profession remained seared into her memory. On the night of July 18, 1955, Laurian was living at the Motherhouse when the fire broke out in the infirmary. On the 50th anniversary of the fire, Laurian was interviewed by the Dubuque Telegraph Herald. The article reads, “Firemen directed [the young sisters] to get the elderly sisters out to safety. McDonald carefully helped two infirmed sisters outside—one by picking her up and carrying her . . . McDonald recalled another young sister who, against firefighters’ orders, rushed back into the burning building to rescue one last nun she knew still was inside. ‘I remember seeing her bring out this bundle. Just as she came out, the roof fell in where she had been,’ said McDonald, overcome with the emotion nearly 50 years later . . . ‘It was an absolute miracle of God’s abiding love that we didn’t lose anyone that night.’”

Laurian was a fun-loving and creative elementary school teacher who “thoroughly enjoyed” this ministry for 37 years. She was missioned at St. Agnes and St. Matthew in Phoenix; St. Aloysius in Kansas City, Mo.; St. Charles in Oklahoma City, Okla.; St. Joseph in Wichita, Kan.; and in California at Incarnation in Glendale, St. Anne in Santa Anna, and St. Vincent in Petaluma.

From her early years in Santa Barbara and throughout her many years of ministry in the Southwest, Laurian had a special affection for Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Hispanic people. She taught English in grades sixth through eighth as well as other subjects in seventh grade classes at St. Matthew in Phoenix, a school with 85 percent Hispanic students from families who struggled with living on minimum wage salaries. In an interview for Salt magazine, she stated her goal as their teacher: “Their world was very small; [I] helped move them into larger worlds.”

She also served as director of religious education and in parish ministry at St. Vincent Parish in Petaluma, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Glendale, and All Saints Parish in Mesa, Ariz. After retiring in 1996, she remained in Phoenix and volunteered at St. Louis the King Parish in Glendale until moving to Mount Carmel in 2002.

Laurian was a very positive, common sense person who loved people. She was deeply spiritual and prayer-centered. She formed close friendships and at times served as a spiritual advisor. She enjoyed traveling and loved knitting, with a number of her creations resembling Native American shawls. Declining health exacted an emotional and mental toll at times, but on one very good day about two months ago, she could be heard singing tunes from The Wizard of Oz.

The BVM community was very important to Laurian, who supported and encouraged the younger sisters and enthusiastically participated in congregational activities. In 1989, “spurred on by a keen desire to return to [her] roots,” she spent part of her sabbatical year serving at Marian Hall. She wrote, “My love for the congregation has been deepened through my contacts and visits with the sisters in residence . . . I have appreciated the quality time to visit, celebrate, and pray with them. I feel blessed to be a recipient of the wisdom that these life travelers have to give . . . I have never been close enough to celebrate anyone’s resurrection in the chapel at Marian Hall, and this experience has been a rich part of my personal renewal.”

From Isaiah, we will hear: “Those whom the Lord has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy.” While anticipating her golden jubilee, Laurian wrote, “God’s faithfulness to me has been overwhelming!” She would readily affirm that God “strengthened [her] hands” and “[made] firm [her] knees” on her earthly journey. As we celebrate her life, we rejoice for and with Laurian as she “meet[s] her God with gladness and joy.”

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Veronica Grennan, BVM (Ita)

Veronica Grennan, BVM (Ita), 103, died Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 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 Sterling, Ill., on Sept. 17, 1913, to John and Mary Loran Grennan. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1931, from St. Mary Parish, Sterling. She professed first vows on March 19, 1934, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1939.

Veronica was an elementary and secondary school teacher and administrator in Cascade, Cedar Rapids, and Iowa City, Iowa; Chicago, Berwyn and Cicero, Ill.; Clarksdale, Miss.; Portland, Ore., and Seattle. In Rock Island, Ill., she was a secondary school counselor and teacher and served in pastoral ministry.

She is preceded in death by her parents, brothers Francis and Edward, and sisters: Mary Manetta Grennan, BVM, Marie Brophy, and Evelyn Barry. She is survived by a sister, Mary Alice Butler, Jacksonville, Fla.; nieces; nephews; and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with whom she shared life for 85 years.

Sister Veronica Grennan, BVM (Ita)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, Nov. 28, 2016

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of the life of our Sister Veronica Grennan.

Veronica Grennan was born on Sept. 17, 1913, in Sterling, Ill. She was the fifth of seven children born to John and Mary Loran Grennan. Veronica described her family as “an Irish Catholic family where the faith was strong, where Christian values were lived and where the children and parents were loved and respected.”

As a senior at Our Lady of the Angels High School in Clinton, Iowa, Veronica decided to enter the Sisters of Charity, BVM after graduation because she was drawn by the “prayer and the beautiful example of BVM sisters.” She entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1931, joining her sister S.M. Manetta Grennan, and her aunt S.M. Laurencita Grennan. Veronica received the name Ita upon reception on March 19, 1932; professed first vows on March 19, 1934; and lived an amazing 85 years as a BVM.

Veronica served 47 years in education. She taught junior high at St. Patrick in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and in Illinois at St. Thomas of Canterbury, Chicago; St. Odilo in Berwyn and Mary Queen of Heaven in Cicero. She taught in high schools in Iowa at St. Martin in Cascade, Regina in Iowa City, and St. Patrick in Cedar Rapids; in Portland, Ore., at Portland Central; in Seattle at Blanchet, and in Rock Island, Ill., at Alleman. “I was a firm teacher in the classroom,” she commented, “but friendly with the students outside of the classroom. I loved them.” She was a successful teacher who was twice asked to present at BVM teacher workshops and once at a diocesan workshop.

Veronica’s most challenging mission was at Immaculate Conception ES/HS, an all-black school in Clarksdale, Miss., where she served as principal for six years. The sisters struggled financially and had to raise money creatively to help provide the children with a good education. But that was not the only obstacle. Veronica wrote, “This was the most difficult and shocking assignment not only from the standpoint of a different geographical area or a different race, but from the standpoint of a difficult pastor . . . [I] leaned heavily on prayer and trust in God to pull me through what seemed an impossible mission.” Her reliance, trust and gratitude is beautifully expressed in Psalm 138: “Lord, on the day that I cried out for help, you answered me.” Veronica refers to that mission as a turning point in her religious life. She wrote, “This ministry made me realize my success depended on God, not on me,” her words echoing the prophet Isaiah, “My strength and my courage is the Lord.”

After 10 years in the Northwest, Veronica returned to her home state and for eight years served as both teacher and counselor at Alleman HS in Rock Island. As her golden jubilee approached, another Alleman counselor said to her, “Sister, you are an excellent counselor, but don’t stay at it too long. Get out while you are on top. Find something that you would like to do and do it.”

Veronica took these words to heart. After praying to the Holy Spirit and spending two summers working at Marian Hall with “our beautiful, suffering BVMs,” she was led to a pastoral care ministry at Sacred Heart Parish in Rock Island where she served for 19 years. Reflecting upon this mission, she wrote, “Although I spent many happy years in the educational field, I feel especially blessed by the Lord who has given me the privilege to visit and pray with suffering people in hospitals, rest homes, and private homes, and who has given me the special privilege of carrying Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament to them.”

Veronica was kind, compassionate and a lifelong learner. She loved her large family just a wee bit more than she loved Notre Dame football! She remained engaged with people, events and issues of the time beyond her 100th birthday even though profound hearing loss made interactions challenging. During the Apostolic Visitation, she expressed her abundant happiness as a religious sister. She viewed the changes in religious life initiated by Vatican II as a significant improvement in lifestyle and greatly appreciated experiencing other forms of prayer, especially centering prayer which profoundly deepened her relationship with God.

Upon reviewing her autobiography, Veronica wrote, “I [have come] to the conclusion that my religious ministry has been challenging, stimulating, and rewarding . . . May Jesus continue to bless and love me until the day when He puts His loving arms around me and says, ‘Come home, Veronica, and receive the rewards I have prepared for you from all eternity.’” Veronica, Jesus has called. Enjoy your eternal rest in his loving arms.

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Therese Miller, BVM (Therese Emile)

Therese Miller, BVM, 87, died Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Natural burial Rite of Committal was on Friday, Nov. 25, 2016,in the Marian Hall Chapel. A memorial service and Mass will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, in the Marian Hall Chapel. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.

She was born in Iowa City, Iowa, on May 15, 1929, to Paul Anson and Theresa Graef Miller. She entered the BVM congregation Feb. 2, 1950, from St. Mary Parish, Iowa City. She professed first vows on Aug. 15, 1952, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1957.

Therese served as BVM congregational employee, ministering as nurse aide and laundry worker at Mount Carmel in Dubuque, and worked as convent cook in Davenport, both in Iowa. She was an elementary school teacher in Chicago.

She is preceded in death by her parents; brothers Clifford, Peter, Louis, Carl and Joseph; and sisters Alta Miller Reber, Agnes Rocca, Maglene Parizek and Theresa Eckrich. She is survived by nieces, nephewsand the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with whom she shared life for 66 years.

Sister Therese Miller, BVM (Therese Emile)
Memorial Mass Welcome
Marian Hall, Nov. 30, 2016

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

Kathryn Miller was born on May 15, 1929, in Iowa City, Iowa, the only child of Paul Anton and Theresa Graef Miller of Iowa City, Iowa. Both of her parents were widowed with children when they married. Kathryn had nine older half-siblings. Her family lost everything during the Depression, but managed to live on produce grown on the family farm where she learned to garden. Kathryn attended St. Mary HS and was a member of the Sodality.

“In my wildest dreams, I never thought of being a sister.” Those were the first words uttered by Therese in a 2008 interview. She continued, “I had my life all planned out. Work on our farm and raise horses. But maybe—maybe. So I mentioned it to Sister Mary Dolors Shaffner, BVM . . . My mother surprised me by saying she had wanted me to become a nun . . . When they said a February entrance date was possible, I said, ‘I think that is what God wants.’” Kathryn entered the congregation on Feb. 2, 1950, and received the name Therese Emile upon her reception on Aug. 15, 1950. She professed first vows on Aug. 15, 1952 and lived 66 years as a BVM.

Therese’s first mission was at Immaculate Conception in Davenport, Iowa, about which she commented, “I was put in charge of the kitchen, totally inexperienced . . . I was able to take a course in quantity cooking . . . I did love to bake.” She taught second and third grades in Chicago at Blessed Sacrament, Holy Cross, St. Agatha and St. Thomas of Canterbury. She credited S.M. Paulus Gensert, BVM, who taught first grade at Blessed Sacrament, with working “miracles” and helping her become a better teacher. Therese served 11 years as a teacher, but her true calling was yet to be revealed.

In an aptly chosen passage from the Gospel of John, Jesus says to his apostles, “If I, therefore, the teacher and master, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.” Therese left the classroom to care for her mother who had had a series of strokes, subsequently dedicating the rest of her life answering the call of Jesus by “washing the feet” of others. After her mother’s death, she worked as a nurse aide and laundress at Marian Hall for 31 years. The sisters used to give their stained garments to her instead of to an aide because she could make them look like new.

Someone who ministered with Therese wrote, “I like to think of her as the servant of the servants. Day in and day out she saw to it that the clothing of our sisters was washed with care, dried, folded to perfection, and if necessary ironed! And if she saw the need for a button or a bit of repair, she either did it herself or brought it to the sewing room. I loved her and was so very grateful for her quiet gentle service.”

A former pastoral care minister recalled the words that our deceased Sister Francis Shea, BVM, at the time a Marian Hall resident, spoke about Therese. She called her “the most holy person she met in her lifetime” and that she went about her daily work “in a quiet, contemplative way in which she attended to each sister’s needs in a very compassionate, gentle manner with a pleasant smile and presence.”

While the words “Therese” and “saint” have been uttered together in recent days, years ago Therese simply commented, “I loved working there. I could do for the sisters all the things I had learned to do for my mother.”

Therese was a spiritual person, one whose sensitive, thoughtful and loving care was generously spent in service of others. She resisted any self-pity and never let her Parkinson’s disease stop her from living her life to the fullest. She enjoyed recordings of Western novels written by Louis L’Amour, going out for a meal, and participating in Mount Carmel activities. She absolutely loved spending time at Two Spiders, especially time spent fishing. She was a great gardener, well known for her tomatoes, grown from plants started from seed in her room. Through the years, she shared the fruit of her vines with those at the Motherhouse and others around town. Her generosity was gift to all in more ways than one.

Therese was a calming presence who left others feeling better, often without even saying a word. She was loved and admired by all who knew her as a simple, humble woman, a true model of Mary Frances Clarke. Thank you, Therese, for all the years of loving care of your sisters. Now we bid you farewell. Rest in peace.

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John Thomas Hackett, BVM

John Thomas Hackett, BVM, 94, died Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 16, 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 Sioux City, Iowa, on Jan. 22, 1922, to John Thomas and Mary Marguerite Flynn Hackett. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1940, from St. John Parish, Sioux City. She professed first vows on March 19, 1943, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1948.

John Thomas was an elementary and secondary school teacher in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, at St. Patrick ES and LaSalle HS, where she also served as assistant principal; and in Chicago; Butte, Mont.; St. Paul, Minn.; and Seattle. She later volunteered in Cedar Rapids.

She is preceded in death by her parents; brothers Charles, John Thomas, Gerald and Robert Lawrence; and a sister Mary Frances Marriott. She is survived by a sister, Helen Elaine Costello, Manchester, Mo.; a sister-in-law Marilyn Hackett, Sioux City, Iowa; nieces; nephews;and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with whom she shared life for 76 years.

Sister John Thomas Hackett, BVM
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, Dec. 16, 2016

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister John Thomas Hackett.

Anna Bernice Hackett was born on Jan. 22, 1922, in Sioux City, Iowa. She was the fifth of seven children, four boys and three girls, born to John Thomas and Mary Marguerite (Flynn) Hackett. Her father worked as a railroad conductor while her mother cared for the children. Anna attended St. Joseph Grade School, graduated from Cathedral High School, and completed one year at Briar Cliff College, all in Sioux City, before answering the call to the consecrated life.

Anna entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1940, and received the name John Thomas upon her reception on March 19, 1941. She professed first vows on March 19, 1943, and lived 76 years as a BVM.

John Thomas taught in elementary schools for 21 years, including Holy Family and St. Thomas of Canterbury in Chicago; Immaculate Conception in Butte, Mont.; and St. Patrick in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She was missioned as a secondary teacher at Our Lady of Peace in St. Paul, Minn.; Cathedral in Chicago; Blanchet in Seattle; and LaSalle in Cedar Rapids. History was her preference but as a versatile teacher, John Thomas always rose to the occasion no matter the subject she was assigned to teach. The students loved her and many stayed in contact with her after graduation.

Besides serving as the assistant principal during her 15 years at LaSalle, John Thomas taught economics and government, moderated the student council and cooked for herself and the sisters with whom she lived. Being highly organized, she completed food preparation before going to school and was able to put a hot meal on the table within a half hour of returning home. Leftovers never went to waste but were creatively transformed into new and delicious dishes.

The Cedar Rapids Gazette featured John Thomas in its “Neighborhood Cook” section which included her recipes for favorite dishes like ginger cookies, candied violets, Irish soda bread, Irish brown bread, “special” (made with bacon grease) baked potatoes, and tasty chicken breasts. “I like to put together a party dinner,” she said. “Cooking for 30 people is no big deal when you have a stove with ten burners.” At the time of the interview, she had 100 crepes tucked away in the freezer.

John Thomas was a lifelong learner, an avid reader with an appetite for history and current events. As a contributing writer for the 1984 Salt publication Charting BVM History, she covered the years 1968–72, a period filled with tremendous tensions and great opportunities. While serving as a BVM senator, her perceptive questions and comments enhanced the dialogue at Senate sessions. After retiring from teaching, she volunteered as a docent at the Cedar Rapids National Czech & Slovak Museum and even helped with the initial clean-up after the devastating 2008 flood.

Her love of history naturally flowed into an interest in genealogy. Both of her parents were of Irish decent. Some of her mother’s ancestors were the first settlers to arrive in central Iowa where they established the Murphy Settlement, while others, disenchanted with New York City, continued on to Australia. John Thomas was very proud of her Irish heritage and was blessed with several opportunities to visit Ireland. She also traveled to Australia to personally connect with relatives.

John Thomas was a realist, even tempered, willing to “go with the flow” and graced with a good sense of humor to help weather the rough spots. She never learned to drive, but that did not stop or even slow her down. After learning of plans to turn an old hotel in Cedar Rapids into a shelter for homeless women and their children, she quickly jumped on board helping to convert the rooms into apartments. She gave away household items such as pots and pans to people who lost everything in the flood. Two of her favorite pastimes were working in her flower garden in Cedar Rapids and being involved with the craft group, “Cut-Ups,” after moving to Mount Carmel.

In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul writes, “If you give to charity, do so generously; if you are a leader, exercise your authority with care; if you help others, do so cheerfully. Your love must be sincere.” How beautifully this describes John Thomas! Clothed in generosity and sensitivity, she was a dear, loving and ever so gracious woman. We—her BVM sisters, friends, and beloved family—were as precious to her as she was to us. Everyone who knew John Thomas loved her.

An unattributed quote discovered in her Bible conveys an appropriate reminder for all of us. “With their last breath, those we have greatly loved do not say goodbye, for love is timeless. Instead, they leave us with a solemn promise: when they are finally at rest in God, they will continue to be present to us whenever they are called upon.” Along with Mary Frances Clarke and all our beloved deceased, we know you, John Thomas, are present among us and we thank you.

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Anna Priester, BVM (Joseph Ann)

Anna Priester, BVM, 74, died Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016, in Lancaster, Calif. Funeral services will be held Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016, at St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church in Sherman Oaks, Calif. Burial is in San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Mission Hills, Calif.

She was born in Los Angeles on Aug. 22, 1942, to Paul and Mary Ann (Blicha) Priester. She entered the BVM congregation July 31, 1960, from St. James the Less Parish, La Crescenta, Calif. She professed first vows on Feb. 2, 1963, and final vows on Feb. 2, 1968.

Anna was an elementary and secondary school teacher in Des Moines, Iowa; and Phoenix, where she also served in parish ministry, as child care aide, and as program trainer for handicapped children. Anna was on the teaching staff at Working Boys’ Center in Quito, Ecuador. She served in parish ministry in Guatemala for many years. She was a volunteer in Lancaster, Calif.

She is preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by a brother Joseph Michael Priester, Colorado Springs, Colo.; a sister, Mary Jo Koman-Kehoe, Lancaster, Calif.; nieces; nephews; and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with whom she shared life for 56 years.

Sister Anna Priester, BVM (Joseph Ann)
Funeral Welcome
St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church
Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Dec. 21, 2016

Good morning and welcome to the celebration of the life of our Sister Anna Priester.

Anna was born on Aug. 22, 1942, in Los Angeles to Paul Henry Priester and Mary Ann (Blicha) Priester. She was the middle child, between Joseph and Mary Jo, who are here with us today. Her parents moved to California to be near relatives and to “get work.” Anna was baptized at St. Cecilia Parish and went to school there until the family moved to La Crescenta, Calif., in 1950. She attended a La Crescenta school and Holy Redeemer ES before moving on to Holy Family HS in Glendale, Calif.

It is fitting that we are at St. Mary today, for as a youngster, Anna joined her family in attending divine liturgy on Sundays and singing in the choir. What was of value for her, here at St. Mary, was the family atmosphere and the Eastern spirituality. It was from this tradition that Anna entered the BVM congregation on July 31, 1960. Six months later, she received the name Sister Mary Joseph Ann at her reception. Anna professed first vows Feb. 2, 1963. She lived 56 years as a BVM.

After the novitiate, Anna completed her bachelor of arts degree at Mundelein College, Chicago. In 1965, she began her first mission assignment at St. Joseph Academy in Des Moines, Iowa, teaching high school for five years. She then chose to teach and work at el Centro de Muchachos, in Quito, Ecuador.

Returning to the United States, she relocated to Phoenix, where she held various positions: teacher, parish minister, child care aide, and program trainer for multi-handicapped children. This variety of experience shaped Anna’s skills for what was next. In 1986 she joined BVM Mary Waddell (Valerie) in Santo Tomás, Guatemala, a mission supported by the Diocese of Helena, Mont. She completed 27 years of service there until she retired in 2014 to Lancaster, Calif.

For Anna, her commitment to share Jesus’ gospel values and to live out the BVM core values of charity, justice, education and freedom in service to God’s people, were always in focus. Her personal traits set a clear path for how this was to be accomplished.

She was always clear that love was the root of living. God’s love for Anna and her ability to share love with all, focused her on relationships: with family members, BVMs, and the people of God with whom she worked. All were important to her. All were equal in her eye.

Next, keep life simple. In her words: “My wholeness comes from simplicity and my life is complete when it is simple.” Anna was passionate about liberating the poor and supporting the oppressed. With her values clearly defined, she was articulate and deliberate about her message. Even in the Scholasticate—the BVM college experience—when the focus was on classwork and getting a degree, Anna initiated visits to the Chicago’s projects, such as Cabrini Green, to take art projects and teach Chicago’s poorest children about beauty. For Anna, believing and doing have always been synonyms.

The Priester and Koman families, her BVM community, and the people of God whom she serviced were her essential connections. She shared an open, genuine love with all.

Anna was close to her family. She regularly returned home for visits with her mother and siblings. She was engaging with the nieces and nephews, teaching them to swim, to take excursions, such as to Olvera St., and to create artistic projects. In fact, one Christmas, she and the children created a paper mâché nativity set, adorning the figures they created with real clothes. That crèche is still treasured today.

In the past two years, Anna, along with Mary Waddell, has had the privilege of living in Lancaster with Mary Jo, allowing her to reconnect with the family frequently. She also has had the privilege of sharing with Joe, Mary Jo, and other family members through travel that Joe has arranged. They retraced their grandmother’s trip to the U.S. from the Slovak Republic, went to the Holy Land. and this year traveled to Quebec.

Anna welcomed her time to share with her BVM sisters while being away in Guatemala. She was able to frequently return in the summers to participate in community gatherings and she welcomed the BVM visitor to Santo Tomás. She loved having BVMs participate in the Guatemala mission.

Anna was a strong headwind. She signed a contract to be a catechist in Santo Tomás, and she did teach and train teachers, but before long her work deepened into eradicating the oppression by assisting the widows to independence. Anna also set up scholarships to increase the number of students who could attend school. By 1988, two years after beginning, 46 students were on scholarship. In addition, there was a program to assist the widows to secure housing and develop a means to support their families.

In this same time frame, three homes for widows were built and four more were planned. Securing land for houses was difficult. She and Mary would encourage the women to weave table runners, stoles, bookmarks and purses. They brought boxes to the states to sell and assist the women not only to support their family, but to provide for health care. In some cases, if the weavings were sold to support the clinic, the women had free health care at the clinic for a year.

The goal to liberate the poor through love, education and service was haltingly slow, fraught with unexpected occurrences, violence in the vicinity, and local cultural practices that didn’t always profit the individual. Anna had the ability to see through to the essence of need and teach to it. She would patiently wait until a widow understood what to do and when she finally would appear ready, Anna would be there with support and ideas. What mattered to Anna was clarity of purpose and action: believe in the hope of a better future, one individual at a time.

Anna’s legacy will not be posted on billboards. It lives in the hearts of those who shared in her missions—and in the people of Guatemala, who have learned some independent skills and who can show others that there is hope.

Anna lives on in our hearts, a loving sister, BVM, aunt and friend. But to our God, she says, “You have called me.”

 Tú, pescador de otros lagos, amigo bueno, que así me llamas.

—Cesáreo Gabaráin

 

 

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