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Obituaries

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.

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.

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


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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.

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


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


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Sister (St.) Edith Dunn, BVM

Sister (St.) Edith Dunn, BVM, 90, died June 12, 2014, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Tuesday, June 17, 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 Jan. 1, 1924, to Harold and Edith Mathis Dunn. She entered the BVM congregation from St. Malachy Parish, Rantoul, Ill., on Sept. 8, 1946. She professed first vows on March 19, 1949, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1954.

Sister Edith was an elementary and secondary school teacher in Dubuque and Waterloo, Iowa; and Chicago. She ministered as hospital secretary for over 22 years in Chicago. 

She was preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by sisters Virginia (Bill) Brockhaus and Dorine McCarthy, Janesville, Wis.; nieces; nephews and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 67 years.

Sister (St.) Edith Dunn,
BVM
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, June 17, 2014

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Edith Dunn.

On New Year’s Day in 1924, Lucille Mary Dunn arrived in New Hampton, Iowa, as the first child of Harold and Edith Mathis Dunn. She was later joined by sisters Virginia and Dorine. Her father was a lumber manager who taught Lucille everything from roller skating to driving. Her mother was “a fashion plate” with a keen and precise sense of style that she passed on to her daughter.

When Edith celebrated her Golden Jubilee in 1996, she told an abbreviated story of her life. The remainder of this welcome contains excerpts from that story.

“In seventh grade at Holy Family School in Mason City, Iowa, I met the BVMs and Sister Mary Adorita Hart, who was to become a lifelong influence in my life. We moved to Rantoul, Ill., when I was in high school, and six months after graduation, the bombs fell on Pearl Harbor and changed our lives. I quit business school and went to work in a civil service position at Chanute Field, an Army Air Base . . . After two years I thought I had done enough for the war effort and decided to go to college. I chose Clarke because Sister Mary Adorita was now there.”

“I really can’t explain how or why I felt ‘called’ to the religious life. Sister Mary Adorita was a great influence, but I’m sure the Lord had something to do with it.” Lucille Mary entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1946, and received the name St. Edith upon her reception on March 19, 1947. Continuing with Edith’s story, she wrote, “During a social hour our first night at Mount Carmel, I made the mistake of playing “Sentimental Journey” on the piano . . . and I seemed destined henceforth to teach music!”

“We were professed in 1949 and it seemed everyone was flying off to New York or California, but I just ‘rode my trunk’ downhill to St. Raphael Cathedral School . . . Sister Mary Concepta Scott . . . called me aside . . . one day and said I’d probably be more convincing as an ‘experienced’ teacher if I took the price tag off which was hanging down from my shawl.”

Edith taught music for eight years at St. Raphael and St. Joseph Academy in Dubuque, and at Our Lady of Victory Academy in Waterloo, Iowa, before she requested to teach business. She taught business classes in Chicago at St. Pius HS and The Immaculata HS, and at Wahlert HS in Dubuque, where she chaired the business department for nine years.

“In 1970 . . . I was interviewed [for an executive secretary position] by an eminent Jewish psychiatrist . . . [who] was professor and chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University Medical School [in Chicago] . . .  I liked his lifelong ministry of helping the oppressed, especially the poor and mentally oppressed. We worked together for 22 years; I found my ‘niche’ at last!” Edith continued to live at Wright Hall after her retirement in 1994 until she moved to Mount Carmel in 2011.

Edith was a pleasant, courteous, clever and intelligent woman. She had a great love of travel, a love that developed quite unexpectedly, as she explained. “One summer I had my first travel experience chaperoning students to the capital cities of Europe . . . I came back home so enraptured over the experience that my dad set up a trust fund for travel and as a result, I’ve been to all seven continents—even Antarctica.” Her adventures included extensive travel of the Hawaiian Islands, an excursion in a Borneo jungle, a Bible history tour through Jordan, Syria and Yemen, and trips to Tibet, Mongolia and even Timbuktu! She greatly enjoyed sharing her adventures with her BVM sisters through travel books, lectures and slide shows.

Edith lived 67 years as a BVM and was deeply grateful for her vocation and the BVM community that supported her. She concluded her life story by reflecting upon her religious calling. “When I was trying to decide whether I wanted to become a nun, I was praying one day in the Clarke College chapel . . . and I found a holy card in the pew in front of me of the Good Shepherd with the little lamb in his arms. It was my SIGN! And as sentimental as it sounds, that has been a symbol of God’s love and protection of me all these years. I have been the ‘wayward’ lamb straying off in all directions, but the Good Shepherd never tired of chasing me down and returning me to the fold.”

In our responsorial psalm, we will sing “Shepherd me, O God, beyond my wants, beyond my fears, from death into life.” We celebrate the earthy life of Edith and rejoice with her as the Good Shepherd welcomes her into the heavenly fold.

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


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Sister Rose McNamee, BVM (Rose Angela)

Sister Rose McNamee, BVM (Rose Angela), 87, died June 1, 2014, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Thursday, June 5, 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 Dec. 14, 1926, to Charles J. and Loretta Hazel Emond McNamee. She entered the BVM congregation from Our Lady of Victory Parish, Chicago, on Sept. 8, 1947. She professed first vows on March 19, 1950, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1955.

Sister Rose was an elementary and secondary school teacher and principal in Antioch, Maywood and Chicago, Ill.; Hempstead and Bellerose, N.Y.; West Union and Sioux City, Iowa; and Wichita, Kan. She also did clerical work at Mundelein College in Chicago. 

She was preceded in death by her parents and brother William. She is survived by a brother Rev. Msgr. Charles McNamee, Rockford, Ill.; a sister Loretta McNamee, Crystal Lake, Ill.; and  the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 66 years.

Sister Rose McNamee, BVM (Rose Angela)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, June 5, 2014

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Rose McNamee.

Rose McNamee entered this world on Dec. 14, 1926, the third of four children born to Charles J. McNamee and Loretta Hazel Emond of Chicago. Her father was of Irish descent and worked as an insurance broker. He died before Rose entered the community. Her mother was of French Canadian descent and had attended Presentation School in Chicago. Rose talked about her siblings during a 2008 interview. “I have a wonderful sister, Loretta . . . and a great brother, Monsignor Charles W. McNamee . . . [who is] retired from the Rockford Diocese. He joined that diocese because he wanted to work in smaller towns. The irony is that he ended up working for the marriage tribunal; he is a very intelligent man . . . My mother asked him what he wanted to name me. He said, ‘Rose’ and so I am!” Rose’s younger brother William died from pneumonia at the age of two months.

Rose attended The Immaculata High School where she was introduced to the BVMs. After graduation, she worked for one year and then attended Mundelein College for one year. She entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1947, and received the name Rose Angela upon her reception on March 19, 1948. Stating her reason for entering religious life, she wrote, “That I might be used as an instrument in the hands of God for the salvation of souls.” She professed her first vows on March 19, 1950, and lived 66 years as a BVM.

Rose spent 38 years teaching in elementary schools in Antioch, Maywood and Chicago, Ill.; Hempstead and Bellerose, N.Y.; West Union and Sioux City, Iowa; and Wichita, Kan. She also taught English at The Immaculata for five years and was principal at Epiphany School in Sioux City for four years. Rose commented, “I loved to teach English, both literature and grammar.” And she was an excellent teacher with high expectations for her students and she always handled her own discipline. In addition to teaching, she served as treasurer at The Immaculata, did clerical work at Mundelein College, and during the summer of 1976 conducted a canvassing census of St. Beatrice Parish in Schiller Park, Ill., along with Sisters Etienne McDonald and Lucile Heimerl. She resided in Chicago after retiring in 2001 and moved to Mount Carmel in 2006.

Perhaps Rose’s life may best be summarized by the words of Mary Frances Clarke. “Go on steady and quiet.” Rose was a lovely, gentle, private woman who quietly enjoyed pursuing her interests. She was an avid reader and she had a great devotion to the Blessed Mother. She was observant and acted with kindness and concern when she saw someone in need of assistance. And Rose exuded gratitude. A comment made by an aide has been frequently repeated by other staff and sisters. “One thing I’ll always remember about Rose is that she always said, ‘Thank you.’”

Rose was deeply devoted to her brother and sister and enjoyed visiting and traveling with them. Even on her last day, love and concern for her brother was on her mind. After one of the nurses contacted Rose’s brother, she whispered into Rose’s ear that her brother was fine and was aware of her condition. Comforted by those words, Rose took a breath and peacefully passed on.

The prophet Isaiah wrote, “God indeed is my savior; I am confident and unafraid. My strength and my courage is the Lord, and he has been my savior.” In this knowledge Rose lived her life. We joyfully celebrate her earthy life and her entrance into eternal life.

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Sister Leslie Hays, BVM (Agnita)

Sister Leslie Hays, BVM, 92, died May 9, 2014, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Thursday, May 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 May 2, 1922, to Robert Leslie and Agnes Marie Verssue Hays. She entered the BVM congregation from Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Chicago, on Sept. 8, 1940. She professed first vows on March 19, 1943, and final vows on March 19, 1949.

Sister Leslie was an elementary school teacher in Chicago; San Francisco and San Jose, Calif.; Omaha, Neb.; Butte, Mont.; and Des Moines, Iowa, where she was also superior principal. She served as associate superintendent, diocesan schools, in Nashville, Tenn., where she was also administrator of Villa Maria Manor. 

She was preceded in death by her parents; a brother David; sisters: Eloise Lowary and Mary and Donna Hays. She is survived by a sister-in-law Patty Hays, Arlington Heights, Ill.; nieces, nephews and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 73 years.

Sister Leslie Hays, BVM (Agnita)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, May 15, 2014

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Leslie Hays.

Helen Leslie Hays entered this world on May 2, 1922, as the fourth of the five children born to Robert Leslie Hays and Agnes Marie Verssue of Chicago, Ill. She joined siblings Eloise, David and Mary and was followed by a sister, Donna. Helen attended public schools until her eldest sister and her husband agreed to help pay Helen’s tuition to Our Lady of Lourdes.

In her autobiography, Helen recalled a day in eighth grade when Sister Mary Orestes Boland took Helen’s class to confession. “We followed the boys’ group and it was my turn and as I got up to leave the confessional, the priest very calmly said, ‘Well, son, have you ever thought about being a priest?’ ‘No, Father.’ ‘Do you have any reasons? Would you mind telling me?’ ‘No, Father, first of all because I’m a girl.’ At that he left out a loud guffaw and I wondered how in the world I was going to go out there and face all those people.” She continued, “I think that was the beginning of my thinking about religious life.”

Helen attended The Immaculata HS where Sister Mary Trinette Purcell was her freshman teacher. They became lifelong friends, and through Mary Trinette’s influence, Helen’s vocation was nourished. Helen entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1940, and received the name Leslie upon her reception on March 19, 1941. While Leslie was in the novitiate, her father, who had been adamantly against her vocation, decided to join the Catholic Church and began instructions. Leslie professed her first vows on March 19, 1943, and was sent to St. Cornelius in Chicago. It was there Leslie was able to kneel next to her father as he received his first communion.

Leslie taught in elementary schools for 18 of her 73 years as a BVM. She was missioned in Chicago; San Francisco and San Jose, Calif.; Omaha, Neb.; Butte, Mont.; and at Visitation in Des Moines, Iowa, where she also served as principal. Leslie was sent to St. Cornelius to relieve Sister Mary Francita Baer who had become ill. She taught sixth grade in the afternoon, but spent the morning preparing the noon meal for the 20-plus sisters. Leslie wrote, “I knew nothing about cooking so every morning after everyone was gone, I phoned my mother, told her what was on the menu and asked her how I should fix it. That made her part of the community and we never would have survived if she hadn’t.”

Leslie continued with a description of an incident that occurred during a visit from Mother Mary Josita Baschnagel. “At the noon meal, Mother wanted tea—the loose kind used with a sieve. So I poured the water over the tea, but as I poured, it was becoming the worst color I had ever seen. Later I found out that one of the sisters had used the sieve to screen foreign matter out of the ink in the inkwells. She had washed it but didn’t realize that boiling water would take out more of the ink. I almost killed the Mother General without knowing it.”

Leslie served on the BVM Education Commission for Elementary Schools. During her tenure as chairperson, she, along with two other BVMs, developed REACH, the Research-based, Eclectic, Adaptive, Coordinated and High-spirited program designed to provide a Christian value oriented climate where each child progressed individually according to his or her learning style. Later, Leslie worked as the associate superintendent of schools for the diocese of Nashville from 1974 to 1980. When the diocese decided to develop a housing program for the elderly, Leslie came on board as the administrator for the Villa Maria Manor in Nashville.

In 1990, Leslie moved to Ellenton, Fla., with her sisters Mary and Donna to be near their brother and to recuperate from major surgery. Soon she began volunteering with the Association for Retarded Citizens and the Housing Project for Persons with Mental Illness. Leslie hosted several meetings of Florida BVMs and associates and was always quick to welcome a newcomer or a visitor. Earlier in life, Leslie served as her mother’s caretaker. Later in life, she cared for Mary, who had become chronically ill, and Donna, who had special needs due to a childhood brain injury. After Mary died in 2003, Leslie feared that she would die first, leaving Donna alone in a nursing home. She received permission from the congregation and together they made the move to Mount Carmel. Donna died the following year.

An abundance of adjectives have been used to describe Leslie including wonderful, generous, patient, peaceful, devoted, determined, friendly, loving and phenomenal. She enjoyed people and life and was dearly loved and admired by those who knew her. She was rarely seen without a smile and continued to live life to the fullest despite her vision loss. She was an avid audio book reader who read almost every book in the audio library. She not only continued to enjoy playing games, especially dominos, but she won them.

Leslie wrote, “I have always felt that if I was willing to share whatever I was doing and my hopes and dreams, the BVMs would be behind me. I am very grateful to them for that.” St. Paul’s words to the Romans describe the way Leslie lived her life: “Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor. Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” We rejoice with Leslie as she enters eternal life.

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Sister Mary Francile Luking, BVM

Sister Mary Francile Luking, BVM, 92, died May 7, 2014, at Caritas Center in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Friday, May 9, 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 June 9, 1921, to Francis Joseph and Elizabeth Schulz Luking. She entered the BVM congregation from St. Bridget Parish, Louisville, Ky., on Sept. 8, 1939. She professed first vows on March 19, 1942, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1947.

Sister Mary Francile was an elementary and secondary school teacher and principal in Memphis, Tenn.; Rock Island and Mundelein, Ill.; Davenport, Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Kansas City, Mo.; and Jackson, Miss. She also volunteered in Jonestown, Miss. 

She was preceded in death by her parents and brothers Francis Joseph and Henry J. She is survived by a sister Ann Luking, Louisville, Ky., nieces, nephews and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 74 years.

Sister Mary Francile Luking, BVM
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall Chapel, May 9, 2014

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

St. Paul wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always, I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all.” How perfectly these words reflect the way Francile lived her life as a daughter, a sibling, an aunt, a religious, a teacher and a friend.

Mary Francile was born Mary Louise on June 9, 1921, in Casper, Wyo., to Francis Joseph Luking and Elizabeth Schultz and was later joined by siblings Francis, Anne and Henry. She wrote about her youth in an essay for a retreat she attended in 1982. “We had very little money, but our parents were people of faith . . . We were happy, we were loved, our needs were simple.”

Francile attended St. Anthony School in sixth grade where she was taught by Sister Mary Prudentius Fuller, who was a powerful influence in her life. She wrote, “By the end of that year I was convinced that the greatest thing in the world would be to serve God and help to save souls. I would be a Sister.”

After seventh grade, Francile and her family moved to Louisville, Ky., to live with her maternal grandmother. Her father went to work at the nursery started by her grandparents. Reportedly, their nursery supplied the roses for the winning horses at the Kentucky Derby. While growing up surrounded by flowers, Francile developed a great love of nature. “Isn’t that beautiful!” was one of her frequent exclamations. She enjoyed hiking and camping and was always trying to teach the names of flowers to others. With concern for the environment, she picked up trash while she walked saying, “We want to leave the world a better place than we found it.”

Francile entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1939, and commented that it “was a continuation of the simple, obedient, prayerful life I had always lived at home.”  She was received on March 19, 1940, and professed first vows on March 19, 1942.  She lived 74 years in religious life and was known for being very supportive of the younger BVMs.

Francile was an elementary teacher for eight years and a secondary teacher, primarily home economics, for 21 years, and was missioned in Memphis, Tenn.; Mundelein and Rock Island, Ill., and Iowa City, Iowa. Later she served 23 years in school administration at Regis-O’Hara in Kansas City, Mo.; Jordan Junior High and Middle School in Rock Island, Ill.; St. Jude ES in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Christ the King in Jackson, Miss.

Francile’s gift to her students was her great compassion, especially for students with difficulties. She wrote, “Teaching was a great opportunity to share with young people the spiritual values which are important to me. In each place there was a need which I had the ability to meet . . . They have been a refining influence, a deepening of my need to rely on God, a realization that it is he who must take the lead.”

After retiring to Clarksdale, Miss., in 1996, Francile volunteered to read to the children at the Montessori Children’s House, at the Jonestown Learning Center in Jonestown, Miss. While she once commented, “I didn’t think they made children that tiny,” she knew the importance of her work because of the great likelihood that many of their parents were illiterate.

Francile was a cheerful, gifted and dedicated person, a hard worker who just wanted to do God’s will. She was also a little adventurous. She often visited her sister Ann during the summer and together they traveled on Ann’s motorcycle. Francile enjoyed, in her words, “the nice men who rode Harley-Davidsons.”

Francile moved to Mount Carmel in 2007. While her health deteriorated, her gentleness was still evident as she moved from sister to sister on her floor softly patting a hand or face. Francile died on her father’s birthday. What a beautiful birthday gift! She wrote, “I do not have plans—aspirations for the future. Only to place myself in his hands.” May she who trusted and placed herself in God’s hands in this life now peacefully rest in Jesus’ loving arms.

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Sister Mary Wolfe, BVM (Nicodema)

Sister Mary Wolfe, BVM (Nicodema), 89, died April 28, 2014, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Friday, May 2, 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 Feb. 2, 1925, to Nicholas and Ruth Brander Wolfe. She entered the BVM congregation from St. Stanislaus Parish, Kansas City, Mo., on Feb. 2, 1944. She professed first vows on Aug. 15, 1946, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1951.

Sister Mary taught elementary school in Chicago, Grayslake and Maywood, Ill.; Boone, Iowa; and West Hempstead and Hempstead, N.Y. She ministered as librarian in Chicago and Rock Island, Ill.; St. Louis; Memphis, Tenn.; and Phoenix. She served as a volunteer in Rock Island.

She was preceded in death by her parents and sisters: Genevieve, Rosemary and Patricia; and brothers: Julian, John, Charles, Frank and Vincent. She is survived by a brother James, Kansas City, Mo.; sister-in-law Lynn Wolfe, Henderson, Nev.; nieces; nephews; and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 70 years.

Sister Mary (Nicodema) Wolfe, BVM
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, May 2, 2014

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

Mary Ruth Wolfe entered this world on Feb. 2, 1925, as the sixth of 10 children born to Nicholas Wolfe and Ruth Brander of Kansas City, Mo. Her father was a porter and both parents worked hard and creatively to provide for their large family during the Depression. Mary was plagued with numerous illnesses in her early childhood. At the age of four, fearing she had rheumatic fever, she was sent to live with a childless couple to avoid spreading the disease to her nine siblings. Fortunately, she did not have rheumatic fever, but suffered instead from undernourishment. After three months of enjoying the couple’s TLC, her health improved and she had “filled out nicely.”

In her autobiography, Mary wrote, “My school years were filled with much happiness for I have always loved to learn, especially reading. I became a regular visitor to the library and an avid reader.” After graduating from St. Aloysius High School, Mary attended a business college on a scholarship and obtained a job at a music company while continuing to live at home.

Mary entered the congregation on Feb. 2, 1944, her 19th birthday, and received the name Nicodema upon her reception on Aug. 15, 1944. She professed her first vows on Aug. 15, 1946. She wrote, “My two and a half years at Mount Carmel were a mixture of joys, sorrows, trials and loving memories.” She went on to live 70 years as a BVM.

Mary taught in elementary schools for 20 years with missions in Chicago, Grayslake and Maywood, Ill.; Boone, Iowa; and 14 years in West Hempstead and Hempstead, N.Y. Recalling her first mission at St. Ferdinand School in Chicago, Mary wrote, “My first class was second grade with 40 students. It was the most difficult year of my 20 years teaching. There were 13 boys and girls who gave me a terrible time. The principal was right across the hall, which didn’t help. This situation prevailed until May when the children made their first confession and first communion. I had perfect peace the last month of school!”

After receiving her Master of Arts degree in library science, she served as the librarian at two congregational high schools: St. Mary in Chicago and Xavier in St. Louis, Mo.  During the summer she volunteered to restore the library at an impoverished Catholic grade and high school staffed by BVMs in Clarksdale, Miss. Mary was also the audiovisual librarian at a Catholic co-ed high school in Memphis, Tenn. and the assistant school librarian at St. Matthew in Phoenix. In 1981, she took a position as cataloger at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill. Between her time in Phoenix and at Augustana College, Mary enjoyed a wellness program in St. Paul, Minn. There she developed clowning skits which she performed in various sites.

Mary continued to live in Rock Island with several sisters after retiring in 1990. During her retirement, she enjoyed traveling through the Elderhostel program and visited all 50 states. She volunteered with GED and English as a Second Language (ESL) programs, led communion and rosary services and visited residents at St. Anthony Continuing Care Center in Rock Island, Ill., served as a Legion of Mary leader, was an archivist at Sacred Heart in Moline, Ill., and a choir member at Sacred Heart Parish in Rock Island.

Mary wrote, “I did not want to sit around so I volunteered . . . I love working with people who want to learn . . . I helped two of my students become American citizens.” She took a personal interest in her adult students, such as helping refugees secure furniture for their living space. Known as an environmentalist for decades, Mary urged her housemates to recycle, too. An avid walker, she picked up trash along the road and recycled and sold pop cans to donate proceeds to the Sacred Heart food pantry. She also collected “good” waste water and used it to water plants and to wash the recyclable trash. In recognition of her volunteering and recycling efforts in Rock Island, Mary received the Keep Rock Island Beautiful award in 2008 and was honored with a mayoral declaration of “Sister Mary Wolfe Day” on Feb. 12, 2010.”

Mary moved to Mount Carmel in 2010. Her theme over the past two years has been to choose life, and recently, to choose eternal life which, as written in the Gospel of John, is “to know . . . the only true God, and to know Jesus Christ, whom [God] sent.” This hope was evident in Mary’s request that those attending her funeral should not wear black because her death should be a moment of rejoicing, not mourning. In that spirit, let us rejoice for and with her as she enters into the joy of eternal life.

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