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Obituaries

Sister Genevieve Kordick, BVM (Basilian)

Sister Genevieve Kordick, BVM (Basilian), died Sept. 9, 2014, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 15, 2014, 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 Greenfield, Iowa, on Jan. 29, 1921, to Joseph and Kathleen (Anstey) Kordick. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1938, from Visitation Parish in Des Moines Iowa. She professed first vows on March 19, 1941, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1946.

Sister Genevieve was a preschool and elementary school teacher in Chicago and Rock Island, Ill.; Clinton, Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls and Des Moines, Iowa.  She was a director for the Highland Park Senior Center and activities director for elderly, Willis Adult Care, Des Moines.

She was preceded in death by her parents; brothers Paul, Aloysius, George and Lloyd; and sisters Monica Lisck and Kathleen Harms. She is survived by nieces, nephews and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 76 years.

Sister Genevieve Kordick, BVM (Basilian)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, Sept. 15, 2014

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Genevieve Kordick.

Genevieve Kordick was born on Jan. 29, 1921, in Greenfield, Iowa, the youngest of seven children born to Joseph Kordick and Kathleen Anstey. She joined siblings Monica, Paul, Aloysius, George, Lloyd and Kathleen. Her father emigrated from Austria with his family when he was three years old. Her parents met and fell in love one day when her mother walked into her father’s music store. One interesting note: her mother’s Uncle Frank helped Gen’s father start his music business and unknowingly played the role of Cupid.

After attending a Sisters of Mercy grade school, Gen entered St. Joseph Academy in Des Moines, Iowa, where she met the BVMs. She commented, “[My mother] went to school at Immaculate Conception Academy in Davenport . . . [She] prayed me into the BVMs, her favorite sisters. Blandina Spaulding, BVM, taught her music and Blanche Fosselman, BVM, art.” Gen entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1938, and received the name Basilian upon her reception on March 19, 1939. She professed first vows on March 19, 1941, and lived 76 years as a BVM.

Gen spent 34 years teaching kindergarten through fourth grade, with her first mission teaching second grade at St. Tarcissus in Chicago. She recalled, “I was totally unprepared . . . I must have been pitiful. One of the little boys told the music teacher ‘that new Sister doesn’t know anything.’” But Gen persevered to teach in Illinois at St. Thomas of Canterbury, Holy Cross and Blessed Sacrament in Chicago, and Sacred Heart and St. Joseph in Rock Island. In Iowa, she taught at Our Lady of the Angels in Clinton, St. Patrick in Cedar Rapids and Cedar Falls, and Visitation and St. Joseph Academy in Des Moines. Her favorite mission was Our Lady of Angels. “I loved the little three- and four-year-olds, the ‘minims.’  [On] Saturday night I would curl their hair and pick out a special dress for Sunday. Once in a while I would ‘borrow’ one of the better-off girl’s dresses for a poorer child.” One sister recalled that Gen would spend the evening recreation time inspecting the daily milk money in search of valuable coins and made money selling them to a coin dealer.

One of Gen’s former students, Peter Teahen, became a licensed funeral director and mental health professional before founding the International Mass Fatalities Center. He dedicated his book Mass Fatalities: Managing the Community Response in part to “My first grade teacher, Sister Mary Basilian, a spunky woman committed to a lifetime of teaching, who introduced me to the power of the spoken word. I am often reminded of the tongue twisters she used to help me overcome my severe speech impediment in first grade. I thank her . . . as I stand in front of a television camera or a filled auditorium, lecturing about disasters and the care of victims and their families, and workers and their families.”

For Gen, years in elementary classrooms evolved into work with the elderly in Des Moines. She provided home care before serving as the director of Highland Park Senior Center and the activities director at the Willis Adult Care Center. She brought advocacy, companionship, laughter and Jesus, releasing her senior friends from bonds of loneliness, poverty and sadness. She greatly enjoyed her 21 years ministering to the elderly because, in her words, “They have so much to share from their experiences.” After retiring in 1997, she volunteered at Mercy Medical Center until she moved to Mount Carmel in 2003.

Along the way, Gen found time to express her own creativity, winning blue ribbons for her pottery and offering pottery classes at the senior centers. Her creativity here at Mount Carmel manifested itself in flourishing flowers and plants outside in “Nan’s Garden” and on her window sills. Her other favorite past times were fishing and making rosaries, including one rosary made from heart-shaped seeds called Job’s Tears, that she grew and dried herself; this rosary was one of Gen’s most cherished possessions. She also treasured a crucifix given to her by her eighth grade teacher and a Sacred Heart medal that she bought with 65 cents given to her by her mother. She never took the medal off, not even when it got caught in a paper shredder!

St. Paul wrote, “May your love increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value . . .” Gen was steadfast and loyal in her relationships because she valued people. She loved her family and was grateful to her community for all their care. She was a dedicated, selfless person with an enormous concern for those who struggled, and she responded with a generous spirit and a great love. Gen, may you rest peacefully in the loving arms of Jesus.

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


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Sister Mary Lou Larkin, BVM (Mark)

Sister Mary Lou Larkin, BVM (Mark), died Aug. 29, 2014, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 10–11 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014, 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 Sept. 18, 1929, to Mark Aloysius and Henrietta Ketchmark Larkin. She entered the BVM congregation from St. Agnes Parish, Phoenix, on Sept. 8, 1947. She professed first vows on March 19, 1950, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1955.

Sister Mary Lou was an elementary school teacher and superior/principal in Oak Park and Chicago, Ill.; and Montrose, Santa Ana and Los Angeles, Calif. She served in parish ministry and as director of religious education in Shiller Park, Mt. Prospect and Chicago, Ill. 

She was preceded in death by her parents; brother James Larkin and sister Colleen Ford. She is survived by a brother, Mark (Shirley) Larkin, Scottsdale, Ariz.; nieces and nephews; and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 67 years.

Sister Mary Lou Larkin, BVM (Mark)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, Sept. 4, 2014

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

Mary Louise Larkin entered this world on Sept. 18, 1929, in Omaha, Neb., the third of four children born to Mark Aloysius Larkin and Henrietta Ketchmark. She joined siblings James and Colleen and was followed by her brother Mark. Mary Lou’s father was a mortician who worked for the Larkin Funeral Home owned by her uncle. Her father felt it was important to really know people and call them by name. He greatly influenced her to do likewise. Mary Lou attended St. Cecilia Cathedral High School in Omaha until her father’s health prompted the family move to Phoenix. She graduated from St. Mary HS in Phoenix and worked for two months as a stenographer for the state auditor.

Mary Lou entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1947, and received the name Mark upon her reception on March 19, 1948. She wrote, “I believe I came to understand my religious vocation through the deep faith modeled by my parents . . . The church was the first priority in the lives of my parents.” She professed her first vows on March 19, 1950, and lived almost 67 years as a BVM.

Mary Lou taught in elementary schools for 28 years and was missioned in Chicago and Oak Park, Ill.; and Montrose and Santa Ana, Calif. She served as principal at St. Bernard School in Los Angeles, Calif. from 1962 to 1968 just as the Second Vatican Council and the forthcoming changes were taking place. She recalled, “[We] had a very conservative pastor not looking forward to the changes that were inevitably going to take place . . . At this time I was studying scripture during the summer months at the University of San Francisco with ‘top-notch’ scholars from all over the world. [I] also learned to play the guitar . . . and led the children in ‘spirited’ Christian songs. The pastor didn’t like the idea that I was taking Scripture courses and, worse yet, playing the guitar. Fortunately I was too young and ignorant to let it bother me.”

Mary Lou’s mission to St. Dorothy School in a black neighborhood of Chicago was an exciting time in her life. She recalled, “[It] was a very complex situation after the riots of 1968 . . . I was told there was a need for me . . . to teach at St. Dorothy . . . Black leaders met at [St.] Dorothy which seemed to be the center of the action . . . [W]e listened to Jesse Jackson speak about the injustices that the black community was experiencing. During some of the meetings I would almost have to pinch myself and realize what a marvelous experience I had been given. I had a hunger to understand as much as I could . . . I [treasured] the time I was there.” In 2009, Mary Lou received an invitation to St. Dorothy’s all-class reunion with the message: “Your presence at St. Dorothy School has had a special meaning to each child. Your strong faith and firm guidance helped mold the St. Dorothy students into the professionals, parents and leaders they are today.”

In 1985, Mary Lou began a 14-year mission in parish ministry, serving St. Constance Parish in Chicago; St. Beatrice Parish in Shiller Park, Ill.; and St. Thomas Beckett Parish in Mt. Prospect, Ill. The pastor of St. Thomas Beckett wrote, “Through the years she has manifested a rich diversity of gifts that has made her a pillar of faith among us and a clear example of the joy of living the ‘religious’ life. She has been so very visible here, and has invested herself not only in the children placed in her care but also in ourselves, our needs, our hopes, dreams and our vision. She brought with her a special gift for organizing . . . I have it on good authority that when the lord God created the universe, Sister Mary Lou was right there to make sure that there was a place for everything and that everything was in its place. And that it was labeled!”

Mary Lou retired in 1999, living in a flat in Chicago with two other BVMs, but she did not stop ministering. It was during this time she re-entered the life of a former student from Holy Redeemer School in Montrose who was incarcerated for murder. She wrote letters, sent spiritual materials, and even visited him. Appalled by the lack of consideration for human rights and the unavailability of a prison chaplain, Mary Lou contacted a newly installed bishop, also a former student, to request his help. Although the bishop was from a neighboring diocese, he used his influence to initiate the process of obtaining a part-time chaplain for the prison.

In 2000, Mary Lou moved to a senior high-rise in Oak Park, Ill., where she presided at communion services and took communion to those who could not attend. In addition, she organized ecumenical prayer services, including one on the first anniversary of 9/11 which enabled the residents to share their grief. She lovingly viewed her fellow residents as her “flock.” Mary Lou also actively spoke out about issues of the day that greatly concerned her. She wrote letters to publications questioning the morality of the Iraq war and stating her concerns regarding the apostolic visitation of communities of women religious.

Even though she kept very busy during her “retirement” years, Mary Lou was able to enjoy some down time. In 1980 she went on a nine-country tour of Europe. She was an avid downhill skier until a skiing accident brought her to Mount Carmel. She also enjoyed reading and discussing books, especially spiritual writings. Mary Lou was an extremely outgoing and friendly person who loved life. She treasured her time with family, friends, former students and her BVM sisters and was an excellent letter writer. Her last day was a joyful one filled with friends and great laughter. As one friend simply stated, “She was a good lady.”

The prophet Isaiah wrote, “On that day it will be said: ‘Behold our God . . . for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!’” The joy of Mary Lou’s last day pales in comparison to the great joy she now knows as she “beholds our God.”

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


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Sister Lorraine Marie Baller, BVM (Charlita)

Sister Lorraine Marie Baller, BVM (Charlita), died Aug. 2, 2014, at Caritas Center in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014, 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 Aug. 21, 1922, to John and Cecilia Schneider Baller. She entered the BVM congregation from St. Gregory Parish, Chicago, on Sept. 8, 1941. She professed first vows on March 19, 1944, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1949.

Sister Lorraine Marie was an elementary and secondary school teacher and principal in Los Angeles, Burbank and North Hollywood, Calif.; Chicago and Grayslake, Ill.; and Kansas City, Mo. 

She was preceded in death by her parents; a brother Charles; and a sister, BVM Jeanette Baller, BVM (formerly Eunice, SCC). She is survived by a sister, Sister Charlene Baller, SLW, Chicago; and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 72 years.

Sister Lorraine Marie Baller, BVM (Charlita)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, Aug. 7, 2014

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Lorraine Baller.

Lorraine Marie Baller was born on Aug. 21, 1922, in Chicago, the first child of John A. Baller and Cecelia Schneider. Within a few years, she was joined by sisters Charlene and Jeanette. Lorraine was very close to her father, who emigrated from Germany and was a teacher.  Her mother, who was born in Chicago, died shortly after Jeanette was born. John later married Elizabeth Yunker, a widow with one son. She was a wonderful woman who became a second mother to the Baller girls. Lorraine’s step-brother Charles died in 1941. Her sisters attended the boarding school run by the Sisters of Christian Charity and entered their community. Charlene eventually transferred to the Sisters of the Living Word. Jeanette transferred to the BVMs; she died in 1996. Lorraine’s path was different from that of her sisters—she attended Immaculata HS and upon graduation applied for admission to the BVM novitiate.

Lorraine entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1941, and received the name Charlita upon her reception on March 19, 1942. She professed her first vows on March 19, 1944, and lived 72 years as a BVM. Lorraine was an elementary teacher for 32 years. She was missioned in California at St. Bernard in Los Angeles, St. Robert Bellarmine in Burbank and St. Charles in North Hollywood; St. Catherine in Kansas City, Mo; and Our Lady of the Angels in Chicago, where she taught for 17 years. She also served six years as principal at St. Gilbert in Grayslake, Ill., and taught math for nine years at Cathedral High School in Chicago. As a teacher, she related well with her students, who also knew she meant business. OLA and St. Gilbert were two of her favorite missions because of the many lasting friendships she formed there.

In 1991 Lorraine retired from the classroom and began volunteering in parish ministry at Holy Name Cathedral. She was active on the liturgy committee, wrote intercessions and commentaries and served as a Eucharistic minister. She enjoyed sharing her talents and mingling with the parishioners. She became well-known and appreciated among the people and once again formed wonderful friendships. Her 15 years in parish ministry was a highlight in her life.

A few random bits and pieces reveal Lorraine’s individuality. As a child, this city girl immensely enjoyed trips to the family cabin. After returning to street clothes, she was recognized as a “classy lady,” a nice dresser with a good sense of style and lovely hair. Her living and working areas were just as neat and organized as her appearance. She enjoyed the tradition of St. Joseph’s Table and often returned to OLA to participate in the festivities. She followed a number of TV shows and could chat endlessly about her favorites. She had a good sense of humor, a hearty laugh and she loved to crack jokes. Lorraine was fun-loving, outgoing and, simultaneously, somewhat private. She preferred to keep the conversation light and other-focused, often beginning with “What kind of trouble are you in now?” and ending with “Now behave.”

To quote a member of her set, Lorraine was “a good, prayerful woman, always pleasant and smiling.” Her cheery disposition was one of the reasons she was considered a good person with whom to live. Lorraine was accommodating, thoughtful and generous. She loved to drive and graciously transported her BVM sisters to their destinations. She was quick to share the candy she received as gifts. For many years she contributed to a circular Christmas letter that was sent to all in her set—members and formers—and she looked forward to receiving the compilation. She never stopped enjoying company and was always glad to see a friend. Even after names became elusive, her face would still light up when someone she had known approached her.

Lorraine selected today’s Gospel passage from Luke. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me . . . to proclaim liberty to captives . . . a year acceptable to the Lord.” The passage with its allusion to a jubilee year, a time of release for persons held in bondage, seems apt. After months of declining health Lorraine is now free. We rejoice with her as we celebrate her entrance into eternal life.

Click here to read wake stories.

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


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Sister Eileen Galvin, BVM (Matilda)

Sister Eileen Galvin, BVM (Matilda), died July 24, 2014, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Monday, July 28, 2014, 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 July 13, 1921, to Thomas and Brigid Cahill Galvin. She entered the BVM congregation from St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Kansas City, Mo., on Sept. 8, 1937. She professed first vows on March 19, 1940, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1945.

Sister Eileen was an elementary school teacher and administrator in Cascade, Iowa; Chicago; San Francisco; Kauai, Hawaii; Memphis, Tenn.; and Kansas City, Mo. She was also a nurse at Marian Hall, Dubuque, Iowa; Evanston and Chicago, Ill.; Bakersfield, Port Hueneme and Oxnard, Calif.; Weirton, W.Va.; and Kansas City, Mo.

She was preceded in death by her parents; brothers: John Joseph, Thomas Martin and Rev. James M. Galvin, CM; and sisters Margaret Mary, Agnes Therese and Ann Galvin, BVM (Syra). She is survived by sisters Mary Catherine (James) O’Connor, Overland Park, Kan.; and Frances Galvin, Kansas City, Mo.; nieces; nephews and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 76 years.

Sister Eileen (Matilda) Galvin, BVM
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, July 28, 2014

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

Eileen Galvin was born on July 13, 1921, in Kansas City, Mo., the third of nine children born to Thomas Galvin and Brigid Cahill. Her parents were both born in Ireland and her father worked as a blacksmith. She had two older siblings: a brother John and a sister Ann who also entered the BVMs. Sister Ann (Syra) died in June 2011. Eileen had six younger siblings: Thomas, James, Margaret, Agnes, Mary and Frances. Her brother James was a priest in the Congregation of the Mission.

Eileen’s elementary school had only seven grades instead of the traditional eight and she was also promoted two grades one year. So, after graduating from St. Vincent High School at the tender age of sixteen, Eileen entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1937. In her letter requesting entrance she wrote, “Ever since I can remember, I have had the desire to enter and felt it is the life God intends for me to lead.” She received the name Matilda upon her reception on March 19, 1938, professed her first vows on March 19, 1940, and lived 76 years as a BVM.

Eileen spent the first 25 years of vowed religious life as an elementary teacher. She was missioned in Chicago at St. Gertrude, St. Dominic, Holy Family, Holy Cross and St. Dorothy, where she served as superior and principal. She was also missioned at St. Brigid in San Francisco; St. Vincent and St. Francis Xavier in Kansas City, Mo.; St. Thomas in Memphis, Tenn.; St. Martin in Cascade, Iowa, and was one of the first BVMs to serve in Hawaii. It has been said that she was very conscientious, a fine teacher with an excellent knowledge of mathematics.

Eileen was a very traditional Catholic who loved to pray the Our Father, the rosary and the Divine Office. She was a strong advocate for Right to Life, especially the protection of the unborn. The Second Vatican Council resulted in many changes in the church and religious life that were difficult for her. However, when the congregation adopted TOPA (Totally Open Personnel Application), it provided her with the opportunity to pursue a nursing ministry.

After working one year at Marian Hall, Eileen entered the nursing program at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, Ill., and earned a degree as a registered nurse. Her heart was truly in nursing. For the next 21 years, she provided good, loving care as a nurse in Chicago; Bakersfield, Hueneme and Oxnard, Calif.; Weirton, W.Va.; and Kansas City, Mo. She lived in Oxnard after retiring in 1992 until moving to Mount Carmel in 2004.

Even though in later years she lived a quiet, almost reclusive life, Eileen still cared deeply for and was greatly concerned about her BVM sisters. She was extremely grateful for even the tiniest kindness and she accepted her diminishing eyesight and eventual blindness with amazing grace. Eileen had a great devotion to Mary and considered herself to be a “handmaid of the Lord.” Included in her funeral plan was a note that read, “The only ‘empowerment’ a true BVM Handmaid seeks is to do God’s holy will more fully, swiftly and lovingly each moment.”

Eileen did not seek nor did she desire accolades. One of her favorite prayers was “O, Lord Jesus, let not my tongue . . . speak well of myself or ill of others so that no uncharitable word will be recorded of me on the Day of the Last Judgment.” This and other similar gleanings that Eileen collected over the years reveal a call to a life of guarded speech and silent prayer. The scriptural passages from the first letter of Peter that Eileen selected for her wake and funeral also reflect this call. “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep the tongue from evil and the lips from speaking deceit, must turn from evil and do good, seek peace and follow after it.”

The day before Eileen died, Sister Catherine Jean Hayen sat in Eileen’s room holding her hand while they listened to the Mass. Eileen remained silent until it was time to pray the Our Father and then she received communion one last time. Eileen did not comment in her final directives about how she would like to be remembered. She only made one simple request: “Pray for me.” So now, as we gather here, we honor her request. We pray for Eileen and we celebrate her entrance into eternal life.

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


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Sister Mary Joel Kramer, BVM

Sister Mary Joel Kramer, BVM, 92, died July 13, 2014, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Monday, July 21, 2014, 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 July 17, 1921, to Joseph Bernard and Margaret Kenney Kramer. She entered the BVM congregation from Holy Name Parish, Marcus, Iowa, on Sept. 8, 1939. She professed first vows on March 19, 1942, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1947.

Sister Mary Joel was an elementary school educator in Fort Dodge, Manly, Sioux City and Council Bluffs, Iowa; Rapid City, S.D.; Chicago; and Kauai, Hawaii. She ministered as an LPN and in hospice/home health care in Sioux City. She worked in food service at Mount Carmel in Dubuque.

She was preceded in death by her parents; sisters: Fern Addy, Nan Strasser, Patricia Slebodnik and Ruth Fenton Weis; and adopted brother Robert Kenney. She is survived by a sister Marge (Maggie) Kistel, Safety Harbor, Fla.; nieces, nephews and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 74 years.

Sister Mary Joel Kramer,
BVM
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, July 21, 2014

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

In his letter, James writes, “What good is it if someone says [she] has faith but does not have works? . . . Faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” Joel’s faith was very much alive. She was a prayerful woman who spent her life giving to others as a teacher, nurse, mentor, volunteer and friend.

Mary Josephine entered this world on July 17, 1921, the daughter of Joseph Bernard Kramer and Margaret Kenney of Le Mars, Iowa. According to her autobiography, she was born on a Sunday morning and her father, “after some hours of tiresome waiting, took off for Mass and missed the great event.” Mary joined siblings Fern and Nan and was followed by Maggie, Patricia, Ruth, and an adopted brother Robert Kenney.

Mary grew up on a farm. “Since the older ones were all girls,” she recalled, “we did many jobs boys ordinarily would do . . . I had a wonderful home life of recognizing and sharing problems as well as coats and clothes and chores. Mom was jolly, outgoing and young at heart with a great trust in her six daughters. Dad was quiet, artistic, patient, loving and a horrible farmer. His great pride was his perfect corn rows for which he was frequently complimented . . . We were raised thinking we were Irish [because our] closest grandparents were Will and Anna Hughes Kenney and their clan. All holidays and Sundays were spent with them . . .”

Besides the BVMs who taught her at Holy Name in Marcus, Iowa, Mary’s greatest inspirations were her grandfather Kenny’s two sisters who were BVMs: Sisters Mary Emmelian and Mary Eleanor Kenney. Mary entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1939, and received the name Joel upon her reception on March 19, 1940. She professed her first vows on March 19, 1942, and would have celebrated her diamond jubilee in September. Joel’s cousin Sister Mary Terese Rink, BVM, entered in 1951. “I had no thoughts of leaving ever,” commented Joel. “My biggest fear was that I’d be sent home for being too ‘worldly.’”

Joel was an elementary school teacher for 43 years. She was missioned at Fort Dodge, Manly, Council Bluffs and Sioux City, Iowa, where she taught for 22 years. She was also sent to Rapid City, S.D.; Kauai, Hawaii; and Chicago.

Her mission to Hawaii fulfilled her dream of being a missionary. “It was so very different,” she commented. “All the students came to school barefoot.” True to her adventurous spirit, Joel and Sister Mary Gemma Gini would take students hiking. What a sight it must have been: two nuns in full habit taking off their shoes to cross a stream with dozens of children in tow! They were told that they were the first white women to climb Sleeping Giant Mountain. Joel loved the children and they loved her. As a teacher, she was known for her fairness and inclusivity. She had a way of making every student feel extra special. Former students never lost touch with her and even paid travel expenses for her return visit to Hawaii.

Eventually Joel earned an LPN degree. “After all,” she explained in an interview, “I had been around nursing all of my life. My mother [worked] with a local doctor on home deliveries and three of my sisters were RNs.” She worked part-time at Mercy Hospital and Marian Medical Center in Sioux City while she continued to teach. After retiring from teaching, she spent the next 15 years volunteering with Amicare, Hospice of Siouxland and Mercy Hospital. She often sat through the night with hospice patients so that their spouses could get a good night’s rest.

In addition to teaching and nursing, Joel loved to travel. She visited Canada and most of the United States. A six-week trip to Italy with Sister Mary Gemma was one of her favorites. She was led by her adventurous spirit to visit the Great Wall of China and she spent a summer living in a mud house with no running water in a remote valley in India. The opportunity to see the Taj Mahal was a childhood a dream come true.

Joel enjoyed sharing her culinary skills with her housemates and even worked in food service at Marian Hall for three years. She was a very creative cook; if she refused to share her recipe, it was because she had made it up as she went along. However, the recipe for her special cake became rather popular in BVM circles. She also displayed her artistic side through sewing and leatherwork and making rosaries from shells.

Warm, generous, thoughtful, big-hearted and fun-loving aptly described Joel. She was a good listener whose words of wisdom alleviated anxiety and offered encouragement. Her gift of hospitality made everyone feel at ease and appreciated. She was a great communicator who kept a stack of envelopes already addressed to family, friends and former students and then she simply wrote a couple of letters every evening. She was always ready to enjoy time with friends, especially for a game of Skip-Bo. It has been said that everyone who knew Joel knows Skip-Bo.

Joel had a wonderful sense of humor that even comes through in her final message to all of us: “I enjoyed my life. I love you all, but don’t wish me back!” Because of our love and gratitude for you, Joel, our only wish for you is eternal happiness in God’s presence.

Click here to read wake stories.

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


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Sister Mary Clare Sweeney, BVM (Clarita)

Sister Mary Clare Sweeney, BVM (Clarita), 84, died July 8, 2014, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Friday, July 11, 2014, 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 Olivet cemetery, Key West, Iowa.

She was born May 16, 1930, to James and Mae Kingsley Sweeney. She entered the BVM congregation from Assumption Parish, rural Bernard, Iowa, on Sept. 8, 1947. She professed first vows on March 19, 1950, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1955.

Sister Mary Clare was an elementary school educator in Rock Island, Berwyn and Chicago, Ill.; and Iowa City, Tama and Clinton, Iowa. She served on the faculty of Mundelein College, Chicago; Arizona State University, Tempe, and Arizona State University East, Mesa; and the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.  

She was preceded in death by her parents and brother Robert. She is survived by brothers: John F. Sweeney (Diane), Bonita Springs, Fla.; Dr. James A. Sweeney (Lois), Bloomington, Minn.; Dr. William H. Sweeney (Jackie), Mt. Horeb, Wis.; a sister Anne. M. Sweeney, Bernard, Iowa; nieces, nephews and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 66 years.

Sister Mary Clare Sweeney, BVM (Clarita)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, July 11, 2014

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

Mary Clare Sweeney was born on May 16, 1930, as the third child of James Sweeney and Mae A. Kingsley from Bernard, Iowa. She joined her brother John Francis and was followed by siblings James Arthur, William Henry and Anne. Her oldest sibling, Robert, died in 1927. She attended public elementary school but graduated from St. Joseph Academy in Dubuque, Iowa.

Mary Clare entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1947, following in the footsteps of her great-grand aunt, Sister Martha Quinn, and cousins, Sisters Faustina Laughlin and St. Martha Lynch. She was also a cousin of Sisters LaVerne and Mary Lois Dolphin and Lou Anglin. Mary Clare received the name Clarita upon her reception on March 19, 1948. She professed first vows on March 19, 1950, and lived 66 years as a BVM.

Mary Clare was an elementary teacher for 17 years. She was missioned in Illinois at Sacred Heart, Rock Island; St. Thomas of Canterbury and Blessed Sacrament, Chicago; and St. Odilo, Berwyn; and in Iowa at St. Patrick, Iowa City; St. Patrick, Tama; and Our Lady of the Angels, Clinton. She earned a master’s degree in English from Iowa State University and a Ph.D. from Arizona State University. She taught English for one year at both Mundelein College in Chicago and the University of Minnesota. During her 32 years at Arizona State University, Mary Clare was an English instructor, director of the writing center, a teacher at the College of Technology and a faculty computer consultant. In 1993, she received the Faculty Appreciation Award for outstanding leadership and dedication to the university community.

Mary Clare was very involved in the BVM and associate community, especially in the Phoenix area, and she appreciated every opportunity to engage in BVM Senate activities. She served on the Salt magazine editorial board, wrote numerous articles for the magazine and was always on the lookout for the next story. In 2003 she received a third place honor from the Catholic Press Association in the religious order magazine category for her Salt essay “Living Close to God’s Greatness.” She also volunteered as a traveling computer consultant for her BVM sisters. In honor of Mary Frances Clarke’s 200th birthday, she created a webpage which provided a virtual tour of the life and times of Mary Frances Clarke from Dublin to Philadelphia to Dubuque. In addition, Mary Clare was active in the diocese of Phoenix. She served on the board for the Catholic Sun, the diocesan newspaper, and participated in the events and activities of the Council of Religious.

After retiring from a long career at ASU, Mary Clare became a vibrant part of “The Farm at South Mountain” just outside of Phoenix. The Farm featured speakers, classes for adults in self-awareness, healing movement and spirituality, as well as an outstanding restaurant using locally grown produce. Mary Clare initiated the Writing Project which included workshops on writing, photography, art and other topics.

Mary Clare was proud of her Irish heritage and had a tremendous love for and commitment to the Sweeney family. During the past few years she spent much of her time helping her sister Anne. She had an exceptional knowledge of agriculture and a good business sense for operating a farm. She was an accomplished photographer and enjoyed capturing her travels which included trips to Ireland, Greece and the Holy Land.

Mary Clare seized every opportunity to take a course on the Bible. Her spirituality was imbued with the spirit of Jean Vanier who founded the L’Arche Community for people with developmental disabilities and those who assist them.

Mary Clare lived a marvelously full life. She was deeply loved by family and friends who were profoundly saddened as her health deteriorated. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” We are comforted by our confidence that Mary Clare has found her rest as we celebrate her earthly life and her entrance into eternal life.

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Sister Patricia Galhouse, BVM (Casia)

Sister Patricia Galhouse, BVM (Casia), 88, died June 30, 2014, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa.  Visitation of the cremated remains will be from 10–11 a.m. on Thursday, July 3, 2014, in the Marian Hall Chapel followed by a funeral liturgy at 11 a.m. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.

She was born Feb. 12, 1926, to Charles and Anna Marie Luke Galhouse. She entered the BVM congregation from St. Rita Parish, Chicago, on Sept. 8, 1944. She professed first vows on March 19, 1947, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1952.

Sister Patricia was an elementary school teacher and prinicipal in Davenport, Clinton, Cedar Falls, Iowa City, Tama and Dubuque, Iowa; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Mountlake Terrace, Wash.; Kansas City, Mo.; Milwaukee; and Los Angeles. She served as librarian in West Hempstead, N.Y.

She was preceded in death by her parents, a sister Rita Gladys Galhouse and a brother Clifford Charles Galhouse. She is survived by nephews and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 69 years.

Sister Patricia Galhouse, BVM (Casia)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, July 3, 2014

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

“Will you come and follow me if I but call your name? Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?” Last Monday while the 11:15 Mass was beginning, Pat was in bed, her eyes closed. As the lyrics from “The Summons” drifted into her room from a television across the hall, Pat opened her eyes wide. Soon after the song ended, God summoned her home. “Will you let my love be shown; will you let my name be known; will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?” Throughout her life, Pat’s resounding reply was “Yes!”

Patricia Germaine Galhouse was born on Feb. 12, 1926, in Chicago, Ill., the youngest child of Charles and Anna Marie Luke Galhouse. She joined a sister Rita and a brother Clifford. Pat graduated from St. Mary High School and worked for two months as a clerk and typist.

On her application for admission, Pat wrote, “I want to become a Sister so that I can teach others to know, love, and serve God and to help make this a better world to live in.” Pat entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1944, and received the name Casia upon her reception on March 19, 1945. She professed her first vows on March 19, 1947, and lived 69 years as a BVM.

Pat was an elementary educator for 37 years, teaching in Davenport, Clinton, Cedar Falls, Iowa City and Dubuque, Iowa; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Kansas City, Mo.; Milwaukee; and Los Angeles. Always willing to take on a new challenge, Patricia, along with Sister Donard Collins, BVM and Sister Kathryn Marie (Mary of the Divine Heart) Reynolds opened the St. Pius X mission in Mountlake Terrace, Wash., where the school consisted of several small structures. Pat also served as principal at St. Vincent in Kansas City, St. Mary/St. Patrick in Tama, Iowa; and St. Patrick in Dubuque. She was librarian at St. Thomas the Apostle in West Hempstead, N.Y. She moved to back to Dubuque in 1988 and volunteered as a Marian Hall driver until moving to Mount Carmel in 1992.

Pat was a private person who didn’t care for much fuss. She also was a hard worker who was well-organized, highly motivated, and open-minded. She was very amicable and willingly moved from mission to mission, and even room to room here at Mount Carmel, to accommodate another’s need or desire.

Pat had an endearing quality and a giving heart that was quick to respond to every request. As a volunteer, she took special care of a sister’s personal belongings after death. As a true friend, she was loyal, caring and faithful through thick and thin, illness and health. She always remembered people on holidays and special occasions, especially birthdays. And as an aunt, she was thrilled to have reconnected with her family—her nephews and their wives.

Pat was enthusiastic and energetic. She loved to dance and was, in fact, trained in dance before entering the community. She relished food, especially fruit and nut granola bars. Pat enjoyed traveling, which included trips down the west coast and to Alaska. She appreciated being in Schola as long as she had the breath to do so. Pat had a delightful sense of humor and a knack for giving a one-word response well worth a chuckle. And as many of you know, she loved to gamble and treasured her overnight trips to a Tama casino.

However, above all her earthly “loves,” she loved God and taught others about the importance of prayer. Prayer came first—before any enjoyment, before every act of kindness. In Micah, the people ask, “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow before God most high?” With her life centered by prayer, Pat knew what was expected of her: “Only to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with . . . God.” We rejoice for Pat as she enters eternal life and lays before God her gift of a life filled with service and love.

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Sister Frances Loretta Berger, BVM

Sister Frances Loretta Berger, BVM, 95, died June 20, 2014, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Thursday, June 26, 2014, 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 July 10, 1918, to Freeman and Clio Downs Berger. She entered the BVM congregation from St. Ignatius Parish, Chicago, on Sept. 8, 1937. She professed first vows on March 19, 1940, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1945.

Sister Frances Loretta was an elementary school teacher in Milwaukee; New Hampton and Mason City, Iowa; Chicago; Los Angeles; and Kansas City, Mo. She served as librarian at Mundelein College and Loyola University, Chicago.

She was preceded in death by her parents, sisters Virginia Walker and Loretta Werle, and brother Donald Berger. She is survived by nieces, nephews and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 76 years.

Sister Frances Loretta Berger, BVM
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, June 26, 2014

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Frances Loretta Berger.

Mary Frances Berger was born on July, 10, 1918, in LaCrosse, Wis., the first of four children born to Freeman Ralph Berger and Clio Emma Downs. Her father was in the hotel business so the family moved frequently. Mary Frances attended seven different elementary schools, but graduated from Immaculata High School. In her autobiography, Mary Frances recalled, “My freshman teacher was Sister Adelita Healey and she was very good to me, understanding my needs. There would be drives to raise money that I feared and she understood and helped me out so that I had something to offer.”

By the end of her senior year, Mary Frances felt that she was called to religious life, but since it was late in the year she decided to attend Mundelein College. “At the end of my freshman year at Mundelein, I finally told my mother that I was interested in entering the Community. She was very proud and also shocked—she didn’t see me as a holy person . . .”

Mary Frances entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1937, and received the name Frances Loretta upon her reception on March 19, 1938. She professed her first vows on March 19, 1940, and lived 76 years as a BVM. Frances Loretta was an elementary school teacher for 32 years, teaching all grades from kindergarten through eighth grade. She was missioned in Milwaukee; New Hampton and Mason City, Iowa; Chicago; Los Angeles; and Kansas City, Mo.

Frances Loretta had many diverse teaching experiences. After the Second World War, she taught Hungarian refugees at Gesu Elementary School in Milwaukee. She commented, “They were eager to learn. In one year they went from not even knowing the language to becoming honor students. It was challenging to try to meet their needs and interest.” Frances Loretta taught Hispanic students at Assumption in Los Angeles. “They tested us, wanted to see if we liked them, and when we did we were able to work with them and found them great.” Next, Frances Loretta was sent to Annunciation in Kansas City where she taught black students from middle class families. “Those children were also very eager to learn and their parents were eager to have them learn . . . After two years we moved on to St. Aloysius School; those children were from the projects. Most were black also but we went from children eager to learn to those who came to school only when they had pretty clothes, so attendance was irregular and their education suffered.”

The summer before the civil rights march to Selma, Ala., Frances Loretta worked as a census taker in the projects. “Rarely did we find a father in any apartment. It was difficult to go into the buildings . . . just going up the stairwells you smelled the poverty . . . All of this was eye opening for us.” Frances Loretta was next missioned in Mason City where she joined a diocesan project to develop a religious education program for the mentally challenged, both children and adults.

When the Mason City parishes and schools merged, the Presentation Sisters were asked to staff the schools and Frances Loretta was invited to be a librarian at Mundelein College in Chicago. She worked as a librarian at Mundelein and then Loyola University Chicago for 30 years. She became involved with Children’s Reading Round Table, a group of educators, librarians, authors and artists interested in children’s literature and literacy. During her 20-year involvement with the group, she served as president, organized conferences, and gave a workshop.

Frances Loretta moved to Mount Carmel in 2003. Shortly after her arrival, the Motherhouse Library and all the sisters at Mount Carmel began benefiting from her expertise. “I knew that [the library] needed some help,” she commented, “and I needed to be working with other people. The library turned out well and the satisfaction of the Sisters . . . has been very rewarding for me.”

To quote a friend, Frances Loretta was “a quiet soul, a hard worker and a great lady.” She loved her family and always remembered them on special occasions and cherished spending the holidays with them. She greatly enjoyed walking and good food and she loved sports, especially Notre Dame football. But her passion was reading. When asked how she would like to be remembered, Frances Loretta commented, “As a book person and one who wanted to help others enjoy books . . . [And] as a candy maker.” Who could forget her fudge?

Frances Loretta relished quality liturgy and prayer and faithfully prayed an inclusive language version of the Liturgy of the Hours. About her prayer life, she shared, “I think of service and kindness to others. I try to make my work a prayer.” Most people experience challenges at some point in their lives; and Frances Loretta was no exception. Yet her hope and strength are clearly reflected in her selection for the first reading from Romans. “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared to the glory to be revealed to us.” Let us rejoice with Frances Loretta as she enters eternal life to live in the glorious presence of God.

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