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Obituaries

Carolita McMahon, BVM

Carolita McMahon, BVM died March 10, 2015, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Friday, March 13, 2015, in the Marian Hall Chapel followed by a prayer service at 11 a.m. Funeral liturgy will be at 1:30 p.m. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.

She was born in Chicago on July 20, 1916, to Thomas and Caroline Nebel McMahon. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1935, from St. Andrew Parish, Chicago. She professed first vows on March 19, 1938, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1943.

Carolita taught music and was an elementary and secondary school educator in Washington and Burlington, Iowa; Kansas City, Mo.; Chicago and Cicero, Ill.; and Burbank and Santa Barbara, Calif.

She was preceded in death by her parents; sisters Helen and Genevieve; and brothers: James, Daniel, Thomas (who died in childhood), Joseph, and Thomas (Carolita's twin). She is survived by nieces and nephews and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with whom she shared life for 79 years.

Sister Carolita McMahon, BVM
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, March 13, 2015

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Carolita McMahon.

Mary McMahon and twin brother Thomas were born on July 20, 1916, in Chicago. They were the youngest of the eight children born to Thomas McMahon and Caroline Nebel. Her call to the teaching profession came early when even as a child she played the role of a teacher when interacting with other children.  Mary was an avid reader who convinced the librarian to allow her to check out 15 books at a time, often reading two or three books in one day.

Mary first attended public school and then a Catholic school run by the Sisters of Providence, but the Providence high school was too far from her home.  She was awarded a scholarship to the Immaculata where, in her words, “I fell in love with the BVMs.”  Sister Leonette O’Connor, her piano teacher, and Sister Harrita Fox, her history teacher, greatly influenced her decision to join the Sisters of Charity. With the help of her sister Genevieve, who cashed a war bond to purchase the right clothes for her, Mary entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1935.  Eight years later Mary’s niece and Genevieve’s daughter, Geneve Moran, also entered the congregation.  Mary received the name Carolita upon her reception on March 19, 1936, professed first vows on March 19, 1938, and lived 79 years as a BVM.

Carolita spent 50 years primarily teaching music at schools in Kansas City, Mo.; Burbank and Santa Barbara, Calif.; Washington and Burlington, Iowa; and Chicago and Cicero, Ill.  Her first mission was at St. Vincent in Kansas City.  “At first I thought it was St. Vincent in Chicago and I was thrilled,” Carolita recalled in an interview. “I pictured Kansas City as a desert with one cactus, but found out what a beautiful place it was.” 

Her favorite mission was Our Lady of Angels in Chicago, but she counted herself fortunate to have left the year before the terrible fire.  At Bellarmine-Jefferson High School in Burbank, Carolita directed an 85-piece band along with a mixed choir, a girls’ choir and a prize-winning boys’ choir. At Mary Queen of Heaven in Cicero, Carolita accompanied the children on a portable keyboard as her students responded beautifully under her direction. Reflecting upon her years as a teacher, Carolita commented, “I consider myself an experienced person. Because I was a music teacher, I had experiences in many classrooms and [with] many different ages of students.

Carolita lived at Wright Hall from 1988 until 2003.  It was during this time that her niece Geneve lived with and cared for her mother, Genevieve, who was Carolita’s sister.  Every day while Geneve was teaching, Carolita would provide companionship for her sister Genevieve.  During the renovation of Wright Hall, the sisters were asked to make several moves, but none more than Carolita, who was always most gracious when asked to move “one more time.”

Carolita was a kind, caring and prayerful woman.  She had a beautiful singing voice, absolutely loved to sing and always remembered the lyrics.  A person passing by her room might be treated to a lovely song lilting into the hallway.  She was a faithful member of Schola for many years, even in her later years when she had to be wheeled to the chapel.  She was also a talented artist; a number of her works are on display in the hallways here at Mount Carmel.

In the gospel, we will hear Jesus say, “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes [in me] has eternal life.”  When applying for admission, Carolita wrote that she wished to become a religious sister because “I think it is the life [for which] I am best fitted.  None other has ever appealed to me.”  Recently, however, Carolita began longing for her new life with God and her siblings, especially her twin Thomas.  When asked if she thought God was calling her home, with her eyes wide open and a smile on her face, she replied, “Soon. Soon.”  Today, we celebrate Carolita’s long life of dedicated and loving service and rejoice as she enters into eternal life.

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Virginia Hughes, BVM (Flocella)

Virginia Hughes, BVM died Feb. 2, 2015, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Natural burial Rite of Committal will be Feb. 3, 2015, at 1:30 p.m. in the Marian Hall Chapel. A prayer service will be held at 10:30 a.m., Feb. 13, 2015, in the Marian Hall Chapel followed by a Memorial Mass at 11 a.m. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.

She was born in Burlington, Iowa, on Oct. 19, 1919, to Charles and Helen Ireland Coleman Hughes. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1937, from St. Paul Parish, Burlington. She professed first vows on March 19, 1940, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1945.

Virginia was an elementary school educator in Burbank, Calif.; Chicago; and Washington, Iowa. She served in religious education ministry in the diocese of Davenport, Iowa; and the Archdioceses of Chicago and Washington, D.C. She volunteered at Loyola University Chicago at the Center for Religious Education.

She was preceded in death by her parents; brothers: Calvin, James and Gerald; and sister Mary Kathleen Pajer. She is survived by nieces and nephews and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with whom she shared life for 77 years.

Sister Virginia (Flocella) Hughes, BVM
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, Feb. 13, 2015

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Virginia Hughes.

Virginia Hughes was born on Oct. 19, 1919, in Burlington, Iowa, just as many soldiers were returning home from World War I.  This eldest child of Charles Hughes and Helen Ireland Coleman was born a “blue baby” and had to be resuscitated. Over the next 15 years, siblings Calvin, James, Charles and Kathleen followed.

In her autobiography, Virginia wrote, “[We] were campers minus the four wheel campers of today. Often [our] Sunday steak was grilled over an open trench in one of the family’s favorite picnic spots. The [Mississippi] River from . . . Lookout Point wore many faces—joy, sorrow, everyday living. Mother and [I] spent leisurely moments of reflection on warm summer afternoons in the company of the younger members of the family.” During the Depression, Virginia’s mother made clothes out of drapery samples from the furniture store where her father worked and relied on a shoe repair kit from the dime store instead of buying new shoes. They always had enough to eat and her mother never turned away anyone who came begging for food.

Virginia attended St. Paul School and was mentored by Sister Mary Alcantara Vogt. She received her acceptance letter the same day that Sister Mary Alcantara died. Virginia deeply appreciated that her mother supported her calling and commented that “The mother who loved life and children never selfishly clung to them.” Virginia entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1937, when her baby sister was only two years old. “It was the hardest separation . . . [I] never had the opportunity to really get to know her . . .” Virginia received the name Flocella upon reception on March 19, 1938, professed her first vows on March 19, 1940, and lived 77 years as a BVM.

Virginia’s first mission was to Bellarmine-Jefferson in Burbank, Calif., where many of the parents worked at the nearby Warner Brothers Studio. She recalled that the very militaristic atmosphere at the school was the pastor’s attempt to show critics that Catholics were indeed patriotic. Virginia spent 30 years as an elementary teacher with additional missions in Chicago and Washington, Iowa, where she also taught 10th grade religious education. In the mid-1960s, she taught a course in St. John’s Gospel to BVM novices at both Guadalupe and Mount Carmel.

Inspired by Jesuit Johannes Hofinger’s The Art of Teaching Christian Doctrine, Virginia devoted herself to religious education for 25 years. She served five years on the congregational Religious Education Commission. In the Diocese of Davenport, she directed the formation of catechists for 15 parishes. Since Virginia did not have a car, she was transported from parish to parish by the pastors and parishioners and lived with and shared in the lives of farm families. In the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., she worked as both a consultant and a field representative for the Religious Education Office, and also as a catechesis consultant for Immaculate Conception Parish in Mechanicsville, Md. With many years of traveling from town to town, parish to parish, Virginia dubbed herself the “Circuit Riding Catechist.”

Virginia moved to Wright Hall in 1990 and for the next five years she volunteered and consulted at the Religious Education Media Center at Loyola University’s Institute for Pastoral Studies. Afterward, she served on a several committees at Wright Hall until moving to Mount Carmel in 2007.

Virginia was a dedicated reader and intellectually curious about a wide variety of topics. Her commitment to the BVM community was deep and enriching to all. She was especially engaged in the BVM Heritage Society and made numerous contributions to the discussions and activities of that group.

Virginia was an authentic person who greatly enjoyed people. She lived a rich spirituality with God at the center and all God's people in her circle. Her genuine interest in the lives of others was evident through her deep concern and compassion. She was a great correspondent and seemed to know exactly when to send a note of encouragement and love.

In the gospel of John, it is written, “John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.” As a cherished family member, a BVM, a teacher, a catechist and a friend, Virginia testified to God’s great love for us. Her testimony is now complete. May she rest peacefully in the palm of God’s hand.

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Mary Faith Lautz, BVM

Mary Faith Lautz, BVM died Oct. 1, 2014, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 10–11 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 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 in Dickinson, N.D. on Dec. 12, 1917, to Frank and Ann (Wenner) Lautz. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1935, from St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, Milwaukee. She professed first vows on March 19, 1938, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1943.

Mary Faith was an elementary and secondary school teacher and administrator in Wichita, Kan.; Chicago; Milwaukee; Phoenix; Fairbanks, Alaska; Kansas City, Mo.; and San Jose, Calif. She was administrator of the Roberta Kuhn Center at Mount Carmel, Dubuque, and served in pastoral ministry in Anchorage and Holy Cross, Alaska.

She was preceded in death by her parents and sisters Dorothy Hamilton and Jane Singer. She is survived by nieces and nephews, and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 79 years.

Sister Mary Faith Lautz, BVM
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, Oct. 9, 2014

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

Mary Helen Lautz was born on Dec. 12, 1917, in Dickinson, N.D., joining her sisters Dorothy and Jane as the three children of Frank Lautz and Ann Wenner. Their father operated a grain elevator in North Dakota until his business declined. He traveled to Michigan to look for work while the girls and their mother moved to Dodgeville, Wis., to be near their mother’s family. Mary Helen’s father died in Detroit during the 1918 flu epidemic. Both her mother and Mary Helen also contracted the flu but fortunately recovered. The Lautz girls lived with their maternal grandparents in Dodgeville, while their mother trained in Milwaukee, Wis., to become a nurse. Eventually, the girls rejoined their mother.

Mary Helen attended Holy Angels High School in Milwaukee where she was introduced to the BVMs. She commented, “I loved them! They were funny; they played jokes on each other.” She was led to a religious vocation by school retreats and the chiding thought, “What does it profit to gain the world and lose one’s soul?” Sister Fleurette Blameuser, Mary Helen’s art teacher, guided her into the BVMs. “That this was the very best way to live my life sent me to the convent without looking back,” she wrote in her autobiography. Mary Helen entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1935, and received the name Faith upon her reception on March 19, 1936. She professed first vows on March 19, 1938, and lived 79 years as a BVM.

Faith taught elementary grades in Wichita, Kans., and Chicago for 14 years. Later she taught art and government at Holy Angels Academy in Milwaukee for 12 years. Often teachers never know the extent of their influence in the lives of their students. However, in 2011 Faith received a letter from a former student who wrote, “I was in [your] sixth grade [class] at St. Joseph School in Wichita, Kan., . . . I was a member of the Baptist Church. You were the very reason that I became a Catholic . . . I wish to thank you for all you taught me about the Church. My parents . . . at their deaths both had returned to the church.”

Faith served eight years as principal at St. Francis Xavier HS (now Xavier College Preparatory) in Phoenix. She wrote, “[It was a] time in our community of turmoil, of questioning, of change, of loss. Living there was for me worldly, sophisticated, free and unsettling. I wanted to be away to a simpler world, a place where I could once again possess my soul in peace.” She found that peace teaching at Monroe HS in Fairbanks, Alaska, until she was asked to accept the position of assistant principal at Regis O’Hara High School in Kansas City, Mo.

Two year later, Faith returned to Alaska to spend the next nine years working as the administrator of a retreat house, an assistant in the Religious Education Office of the Archdiocese of Anchorage, and a pastoral associate of two parishes. About her time with the Athabascan Indians and Eskimos she wrote, “The image I had of happy, colorfully-dressed, native children with loving parents in snug little homes was modified when I saw the poor condition of many homes and the litter and dirt on the streets . . . One needs great faith, hope, love to keep up one’s courage when working with good but very poor people who seem to have no roots in faith . . . How much good I did by being there, being a friend, being the presence of ‘church,’ I do not know. I did love my time there and, had not my years warned me to move on, I would have remained . . . I left with a heavy heart.”

Faith returned to the Lower Forty-eight in 1986 to teach in San Jose, Calif. The following year, she moved to Dubuque to become the administrator of the Roberta Kuhn Center where she also taught art classes. “It was a wonderfully joyous place and I loved it,” remarked Faith. In 2003, after breaking her ankle in a car accident, she moved to Mount Carmel.

Faith was a gifted artist whose work Women in Scripture was included in the Women and Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America Exhibit at the Carnegie-Stout Public Library here in Dubuque. Her Master’s thesis “The Sacred Heart” graces the wall just outside this chapel. When Faith was at Help of Christians School in Chicago, she was constantly asked to paint spiritual bouquets and altar linens. “The Superior, [Sister Alethea Garrity], had me painting through the night to catch up. Sister Ann Regina [Dobel] used to read to me while I continued painting. One time we were still painting and reading when the rising bell rang for the day.” When asked if she feels like an artist, she replied, “No, I feel like an art teacher . . . I loved to teach and loved the contact with students.” She was frequently asked to critique the works of beginning artists. She always gave her honest opinion and, true to her teaching charism, offered suggestions for improvement, if necessary.

Faith was an independent thinker and a doer who made lasting impressions with her warm, welcoming and gracious smile. She was genuinely happy to see people and formed many lifelong friends. She dearly loved her family and eagerly awaited their visits, calls and letters and plastered her bulletin board with their photos. Besides her passion for art, Faith loved music, dance and cats and, according to a friend, she could “cook an Alaskan salmon like no one else.”

Faith certainly heeded St. Paul’s urging to the Ephesians “to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love . . .” Reflecting upon her life, Faith commented, “I look back at the joys and sorrows, successes and failures, and waste no time wondering whether I made the right choice . . . I thank God for my life as a BVM.” And we thank God for the blessing Faith has been in our lives as we celebrate her entrance into eternal life.

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