Sisters of Notre Dame Blog

Sister Jeanette DeBrosse (formerly Mary Urban)

May 26, 2017

March 15, 1928 - May 24, 2017

In peace I will lie down and fall asleep, for you alone, Lord, make me secure. (Psalm 4:9)

Russia, Shelby County, Ohio is a small farming community north of Dayton that was originally settled by devotedly Catholic French-speaking immigrants from Alsace-Lorraine. Among them were the ancestors of Sister Jeanette. Farming was starting to become automated by the time Jeanette’s parents reached adulthood, and manufacturing in cities offered a good living. Urban and Laura DeBrosse joined many of their peers moving to the city, where Urban supported his wife and children by working in Dayton factories.

Jeanette Bertha DeBrosse was born in Dayton and raised in Holy Family Parish where the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur were her teachers throughout grade school. As soon as she was old enough, Jeanette took afterschool and summer jobs clerking in a department store and waitressing to help support her family. She went on to Julienne High School, which was also staffed by the Sisters of Notre Dame, and when Jeanette expressed an interest in religious life during her freshman year, the Sisters asked if she would be interested in going to the Candidacy in Columbus. There, she would live with the Sisters, other young women discerning their call and continue her secondary education at St. Joseph’s Academy. Jeanette was very interested and she entered the Candidacy in September of 1943. In the summers she returned to her family in Dayton and summer jobs.

Her desire to follow Christ as a religious continued to deepen, and by November 1945 Jeanette had decided to enter the Postulate in Reading, Ohio. 50 years later she would remember making the journey from Dayton to Mount Notre Dame on a cold, wintery day in February. Her father, driving the family car, approached the circular convent drive in Reading. He made a complete turn through the property and returned to the bottom of the hill, suggesting he would drive onto the convent property a second time, just to be certain his daughter had really made up her mind. “I think Dad was teasing,” Jeanette recalled today, “but he knew it was a serious step I was taking and how hard it was going to be. I was only 17, and he was a concerned parent.” Jeanette may have found it hard, but she continued to grow in her sense of vocation. She asked to move on to Novitiate, and when asked why she wanted to continue her formation as a Sister of Notre Dame she wrote, “… because I had been taught by these Sisters from the beginning of my school life, because Notre Dame combines the contemplative and active life, and because of its work in the education of youth.” She was accepted into the Novitiate and given the name Sister Mary Urban.

Sister Mary Urban’s first ministry was teaching 4th Grade at a parish school in Calumet City, Illinois. She would teach 3rd-8th grade at schools in Chicago, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati before being appointed Director of Postulants in 1961. In that role, Sister Mary Urban was responsible for the over-all program at the Postulate and taught the Spiritual Theology, Theology of Religious Life, and the Theological Implications of Vatican II segments of the program. She also served as a part-time Religion teacher at Mount Notre Dame High School for four years of her seven-year term as Director of Postulants.

By 1968, Sister Jeanette had taken the option of reverting to her baptismal name and accepted a mission to Notre Dame High School in Chicago. There she served as chairperson of Religion Department and Religion teacher. She created and organized a new curriculum in religious education that incorporated electives, organized and initiated a parent education program in an informal “coffee hour” setting and coordinated an adult religious education discussion group in the neighboring parish. Jeanette returned to Mount Notre Dame High School in 1971 where she taught Religion and English and served as English Department Chair. At MND she also served as adviser for the creative writing section of the school newspaper and moderated the Parents Club.

After 30 years of teaching, Jeanette was offered a year-long sabbatical as a participant in the Active Spirituality Program. At the end of that year she looked for a ministry that combined her administrative and organization skills with the desire to work with people one-to-one and she was missioned to serve as Administrative Assistant to the Ministers of Service Program for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. The program had been organized to provide laypersons, who felt the desire to serve their parish-communities more formally, with training and ongoing support. They worked as equal partners on their parish staffs and contributed a unique dimension to the development of their parish-communities. Jeanette served the program for eight years, and then served in parish ministry for a short time before accepting a position with the Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library.

For nine years Jeanette worked as a library assistant, receiving excellent evaluations and loving the opportunities the job provided her to work with people one-to-one with research requests. When she retired from the Library she moved to Dayton and worked with other Sisters at the University of Dayton site of the Alliance for Work-Based Education. In that program she tutored adults who wanted to earn their GED and/or improve their computer skills. When Jeanette joined the Mount Notre Dame Health Center community in 2004 she served as an informal patient visitor to Sisters living in Cuvilly, a proofreader for Province Offices, a Lector and Cantor and an occasional reader for sight impaired Sisters in the community.

From early in her life Jeanette was an excellent student who loved to learn. Over the years she took graduate courses in English, Religion and computer technology and participated in a Clinical Pastoral Education program, counseling workshops, anti-racism workshops, workshops on the Black Catholic Bishops’ Pastoral and the Preferential Option for the Black Community. Jeanette also participated in seminars offered through the University of Dayton’s Learning in Retirement program.

Jeanette never learned how to drive and instead became an expert at navigating the bus systems in cities where she lived. Not driving, however, did not mean she didn’t like to travel! She participated in the 1976 Mini-Arc program in Rome, which included a pilgrimage to Notre Dame Heritage sites in France and Belgium; she made a side-trip to England that summer as well. Jeanette also attended Notre Dame Education Conferences around the United States and enjoyed a Golden Jubilee trip to Hawaii, a fishing trip to Minnesota, retreats in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, a visit to New Orleans and other untold destinations that are not recorded.

In community Jeanette was a good listener who valued friendships, faith-sharing and companionable conversation with her Sisters. Jeanette could be a bit of a perfectionist, but never expected more from others than she expected of herself. She loved books, art films, museums, the symphony, walking, listening to good music, the opera and good dramas on TV. She was fun loving and the epitome of a lady. Her special interests included creative writing and interpretive dancing, but nowhere did she list sports! Jeannette was happiest when surrounded by beauty and God touched her deeply through the beauty of creation.

Jeanette was devoted to her family and enjoyed visiting with them in person, through letters or by phone. She appreciated the opportunities living in Dayton gave her to spend time with her siblings, join family holiday celebrations, get to know her beloved nieces and nephews as adults, and get to know their children.

At one point Jeanette wrote, “I understand religious life to be a life of loving sacrifice, a life of deep peace and joy.” Now, as her Sisters, family and friends give thanks for the gift of God’s goodness that Jeanette’s life has been to each of us, we paraphrase Isaiah 55:12 and celebrate with her God’s call to joyfully go forth from this life to the infinite peace of eternity with God. May the mountains and hills break out in song before her, all the trees of the field clapping their hands to dance her on her way.

Bio Data
Born March 15, 1928 in Dayton, OH
Parents: Urban DeBrosse (born in Russia, Ohio) and Laura Groff (born in Russia, Ohio)
Siblings: Helen DeBrosse Lavielle, Ruth DeBrosse Gayle, Lucille DeBrosse Fantz, Carl DeBrosse, Rita DeBrosse Ostiek, Adele DeBrosse Cooley, Evelyn DeBrosse August

Baptized March 18, 1928 at St. Joseph Church, Dayton, Ohio
Confirmed March 27, 1938 at Holy Family Church, Dayton, Ohio

Entered February 2, 1946 at Mt. Notre Dame
First Profession: January 29, 1949
Final Profession: August 13, 1954

Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Dayton, Dayton Ohio, 1961
Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Theology from Manhattanville College, Purchase, New York, 1967

Assignments Included:
1948-1949 St. Victor School, Calumet City, Illinois
1949-1950 St. Robert Bellarmine School, Chicago, Illinois
1950-1952 St. Christopher School, Columbus, Ohio
1952-1956 Summit Country Day School, Cincinnati, Ohio
1956-1961 Holy Angels School, Dayton, Ohio
1961-1968 Director of Postulants, Mt. Notre Dame Convent, Reading, Ohio
1964-1967 Mt. Notre Dame High School, Reading Ohio
1968-1971 Notre Dame High School, Chicago, Illinois
1971-1979 Mt. Notre Dame High School, Reading, Ohio
1979-1980 Sabbatical: Active Spirituality Program, Mt. St. Joseph College, Mt. St. Joseph, Ohio
1980-1988 Administrative Assistant, Ministers of Service Program, Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
1988-1989 Pastoral Associate, St. Andrew Parish, Cincinnati, Ohio
1989-1997 Library Assistant, Cincinnati/Hamilton County Public Library, Cincinnati, Ohio
1997-2004 Tutor, Alliance for Work-Based Education, University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio
2004-Present: Community Service, Mt. Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio

Died on May 24, 2017 at Mt. Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio

Sr. Kim Dalgarn SNDdeN
May 25, 2017



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Sister Ann Carolyn Blackburn, SNDdeN (formerly Ann Caroline)

April 12, 2017

May 30, 1927 – April 10, 2017

“Let the children come to me and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Luke 18:16)

Born Lorraine Dorothy Blackburn, Sister Ann Carolyn was proud to be 100% Irish and from Chicago. The oldest of three girls, she grew up in St. Peter Canisius Parish where she met the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Ann Carolyn first thought about being a Sister “in the first grade…. My mother told me I would change my mind…. When I was in high school, I felt the Lord was calling me to religious life. One of my teachers directed me to the Notre Dame candidacy, which prepared me to be a postulant. The Sister in charge gave us a very spiritual outlook on life, especially her love of St. Julie. She had a great devotion to the Holy Spirit, and so do I.” By the end of two years at the candidacy Ann Carolyn had finished her secondary school and entered the postulancy at Mount Notre Dame in Reading, Ohio.

Sister Ann Carolyn would spend her whole life working with little children in a variety of settings. It didn’t matter if she was working with classes of 50 or tutoring just one child, Ann Carolyn enjoyed being with the children, teaching them about God and nurturing each according to their individual needs. Those who needed extra attention touched her heart in a special way and challenged her creativity as a teacher – a challenge that continually energized her. Sister’s lessons were quiet, nurturing and designed to give the children the liberty to discover and gain confidence in their gifts. Their progress gave Ann Carolyn great joy.

In the summer of 1965 she was sent to Detroit to be part of a pilot Head Start Program. The succeeding summers Ann Carolyn trained in Montessori in Chicago, and did her Montessori practice teaching in inner-city Cincinnati. That fall she was assigned to the new Head Start Program in Hamilton where her creativity came in handy as she found few funds designated to purchase teaching materials. In 1968 Ann Carolyn went to Michigan State University for an eight week workshop on Leadership Training for Montessori teachers. She was accepted as a graduate assistant at MSU in 1970 and earned her Masters while teaching paraprofessionals assigned to Head Start Programs in Ohio, Illinois and Indiana. When she finished her studies Ann Carolyn was missioned to St. Peter Canisius Parish School where she applied Montessori principles in her first grade classroom for eleven years. After 36 years of full-time teaching, Sister “retired” to work in the Notre Dame Reading Center in Columbus, where she tutored individual children who needed extra help. She also started working with the Foster Grandparent Program which placed her in local schools to work with students individually.

Ann Carolyn moved to Cincinnati in 1991 and continued with the Foster Grandparent Program at Corryville Catholic where she spent 20 hours each week using her creativity and positive attitude to help children blossom. In 1996 the Foster Grandparent Program assigned her to Children’s Hospital where she became an invaluable support to the hospital school program. Sister learned to use the hospital census so that each day she could canvas patient units to find students in need of help. She regularly worked with young children in the pediatric rehabilitation program and hematology/oncology unit. Perhaps most importantly Ann Carolyn brought a ready smile, humor and genuine care to each child with whom she worked. Sister worked with the Foster Grandparent Program for over 20 years. She was recognized for her service through her induction into the Senior Citizen Hall of Fame in 1998 and her reception of the President’s Call to Service Award in 2005. Her skills where transferred to adults when she and four other Sisters moved to a near-by assisted living facility while the Health Center was being built at Mount Notre Dame. Ann Carolyn was delighted to find a Montessori program that welcomed her help operating in the same building. She also volunteered among the residents by leading the weekly rosary and spending one-on-one time interviewing them about their lives. Ann Carolyn used the interviews to write articles for the monthly newsletter the facility published.

Evaluations through the years described Sister Ann Carolyn as warm, pleasant, collaborative, cooperative, open, dependable, adaptable, studious, and open to learning. She attributed her long teaching career to “the grace of God and my love of St. Julie… I've always felt St. Julie helped me with my teaching. In my master's thesis, I compared her teaching method with the Montessori Method, and my conclusion was that she used all the principles of the Montessori Method.” Her love for Julie started when she was in school, grew during the candidacy where she “learned and imbibed the Notre Dame Charism as I watched the Sisters… living with them, and praying with them.” Ann Carolyn tried to mirror St. Julie's simplicity in her own spirituality, in her ministry and certainly in her relationships with her Sisters in community. It was a great joy for her when she was chosen to participate in the very first Julie Conference in Namur. Receiving her own copy of St. Julie’s Letters and other Institute books enriched her life. She wrote that she read from St. Julie’s writings every day because they nourished her spirit and deepened her “sense of being at home with the Lord and in community.”

Sister once wrote, “My Dad was the greatest example of the Fatherhood of God. Dad showed us the Father's humor.” Ann Carolyn inherited a good bit of her father’s personality. Her Sisters appreciated her infectious humor. They described her as uninhibited, full of fun, a great storyteller, happy, open, dependable, adaptable and always willing to help others. She liked every kind of community discussion, doing crafts, reading a good book, swimming when she had the opportunity and visiting with people: Sisters, family, friends – Ann Carolyn simply loved being around people.

Ann Carolyn also loved to travel. It didn’t matter if it was on her own to Elder Hostels, with Sisters to Belgium, France, Rome or to SND educational meetings in the United States, with classmates to Niagara Falls, with her family to Alaska or with her brother-in-law to Ireland – each was a treasured memory. She stayed connected to family and friends through visits, notes, cards and phone calls. Her family held a special place in her heart – cousins as well as siblings, and nieces and nephews of all generations. Sister was grateful for the special memories of taking care of one nephew for six months, and was delighted as he referred to her forever after as “his” Sister Ann. Ann Carolyn couldn’t communicate much during visits with her nieces and nephews the last few days of her life, but we know what a joy it was for her to have them by her side.

Sister Ann Carolyn wrote, “The grace of God and my love of St. Julie have strengthened me all these years. I say each day with St. Julie, ‘How good is the good God!’” Her Sisters, family and friends give thanks for her full life and all she taught us about how good God is!

Bio Data
Born May 30, 1927 in Chicago, Illinois
Parents: George Phelen Blackburn (born in Dixon, Illinois) and Caroline Sheehan (born in Chicago, Illinois)
Siblings: Patricia Elizabeth and Mary Catherine

Baptized June 19, 1927 at St. Angela Church, Chicago, Illinois
Confirmed October, 1937 at St. Peter Canisius Church, Chicago, Illinois

Entered August 14, 1945 at Mt. Notre Dame
First Profession: August 13, 1948
Final Profession: August 13, 1953

Bachelor of Science in Education from Our Lady of Cincinnati College, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1962
Master of Arts in Education: Early Childhood from Michigan State, East Lansing, Michigan 1972

Assignments Included:
1948-1957 Summit Country Day School, Cincinnati, Ohio
1957-1963 St. Peter Canisius School, Chicago, Illinois
1963-1965 St. Peter School, South Beloit, Illinois
1965-1967 St. John School, Villa Park, Illinois
1967-1972 Head Start, Hamilton, Ohio
1972-1983 St. Peter Canisius School, Chicago, Illinois
1983-1991 Notre Dame Reading Center, Columbus, Ohio
1987-1991 Livingston Elementary School, Columbus, Ohio
1991-1996 Corryville Catholic School, Cincinnati, Ohio
1996-2000 Children's Hospital, Cincinnati, Ohio
2000 –2002 Amber Park Montessori Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
2002-2008 Montessori Center for Life Long Learning, Cincinnati, Ohio
2008-2011 Community Service, Mount Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio
2012- 2017 Ministry of Prayer, Mount Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio

Died April 10, 2017 at Mount Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio

Sr. Kim Dalgarn SNDdeN
April 11, 2017



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Sister Joyce Shaub SNDdeN (formerly Dorothy Christine)

January 28, 2017

May 1, 1932 – January 28, 2017

My soul rests in God alone, from whom comes my salvation. God alone is my rock and salvation, my fortress; I shall never fall.
(Psalm 62:2-3)

An only child, Joyce grew up three blocks from her grandparents and surrounded by cousins whom she dearly loved. When thinking of how God called her to religious life she said, “I think of my mother and father who instilled the love of God into me. I also think of my grandparents, and the rest of my loving extended family.” She first experienced “nuns” in grade school where her teachers were IHM Sisters. They were sure Joyce had a call to religious life and told her they looked forward to seeing her “in the blue” of their habit.

Then Joyce went to high school and met the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. At the time of her Golden Jubilee, Joyce wrote: “I think of and pray for the Sisters of Notre Dame that I met during my high school years at Moylan. What many and varied personalities! They were all kind and loving and dared us to be different. The spirit that prevailed at Moylan attracted me to the Sisters of Notre Dame. Of course, now fifty years later, I realize that Spirit was the Spirit of St. Julie and Francoise.”

As strong as the attraction was, Joyce worked for three years as a secretary before entering at Ilchester in 1953. Remembering her time in the postulate and novitiate with a twinkle in her eye, she exclaimed, “We were devils!” Members of her ‘band’ became beloved friends as well as Sisters. Joyce was given the name Sister Dorothy Christine and prepared to teach, but her experience as a secretary was well known. She described how, when she was sent out for practice teaching, the principal put her to work in the office instead of in a classroom. The result was a rocky first couple of years of teaching. Eventually she became a Master Teacher of Social Studies and spent years teaching 6th grade and eventually 6th through 8th grade.

The changes in religious life brought about by the 2nd Vatican Council were not easy for Joyce. In a 2014 interview she said, “In looking back now I can’t believe I was that conservative.” She went on to describe how through prayer, reading, workshops, and lived experiences she did change “not just the habit but my life.” Part of the ‘lived experiences’ that helped her find a new inner freedom were three summers of study funded through National Science Foundation Grants. She spent two summers in Washington and Oregon climbing mountains and glaciers, and a summer in Tennessee exploring opal mines and gravel pits. Joyce loved every minute of it and through the process earned a Masters in Geology – a subject that she had always loved. Joyce shared her enthusiasm with students through science classes for many years.

Joyce was very grateful that, when her father was dying and her mother ill, the community supported her in going home to help. After her father’s death, she applied for a position at the Academy of Notre Dame, Villanova. At first she commuted from Chester each day, but eventually her mother was well enough that Joyce could join the Villanova community and help her mother on weekends. Later Joyce was asked to work in the College Guidance Department at Villanova. She loved working with the students, lay teachers and Sisters at Villanova. From her Golden Jubilee reflections we read, “I think of all the students and their parents who taught me the real meaning of life, love, and sacrifice. I can never forget the Sisters of my present community at Villanova. I thank God every day for each and every one of them. I have been graced for 25 years by their example, prayers, love and their concern for my welfare, whether it was teaching science in a junior school, working in a college guidance department, or as a corporate secretary.”

When the community at Villanova closed, Joyce went first to the Notre Dame community at Trinity Washington University and then to Villa Julie to help with driving. When illness put an end to her driving, she joined the Sisters of Notre Dame living at Emmitsburg, Maryland. When Emmitsburg closed she chose to join the Health Center Community at Mount Notre Dame in Cincinnati where she added her beautiful smile, gentle humor, and genuine interest in each person she met to the fabric of community life. She also added dashes of color to Mount Notre Dame through her decorative canes, socks and works of art created through adult coloring books. Joyce stayed in touch with much loved friends and family, and made new friends among the Sisters in Cincinnati.

Joyce wrote, “The greatest enrichment came from my traveling "In the Footsteps of Julie” in France, with other SNDs. To be able to walk the same cobblestones, worship in the same churches, visit her home and place of birth, was indeed a privilege and a joy.” She experienced real cultural differences between life in the East and Mid-West, but in community she recognized the charism that unites all Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.

Joyce’s experiences of God’s love and goodness in her life continued to deepen. She wrote at the time of her Diamond Jubilee, “I am so much more aware of God. I talk with Him like a friend. Every day. I'm more aware of the Trinity and see them as three friends. My love continues to grow each day through my faith.” Her sudden death leaves her Sisters, beloved cousins, friends and former students turning to the Good God in faith. As we mourn we give thanks for the gift of this wonderful woman’s witness to God’s goodness. We count on Joyce’s prayers for us as she is held in the loving embrace of her good God.

Bio Data
Born May 1, 1932 in Chester, Pennsylvania
Parents: Christian W. Shaub (born: Chester, Pennsylvania) and Dorothy Day (born: Roxborough, Pennsylvania)

Baptized January 8, 1933 at St. Michael Church, Chester, PA

Entered August 9, 1953 at Ilchester Maryland
First Profession: January 26, 1956
Final Profession: July 30, 1961

Notre Dame High School, Moylan, Pennsylvania, 1950
Bachelor of Science, Trinity College, Washington, D.C., 1957
Masters Arts, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. 1971
Master of Science, Western Washington State University, Bellingham, Washington, 1972
Assignments Included:
1956-1961 St. Catherine of Genoa Parish School, Brooklyn, New York
1961-1967 Academy of Notre Dame, Villanova, Pennsylvania
1967-1968 St. Jerome Parish School, Hyattsville, Maryland
1968-1970 St. Camillus School Parish School, Washington, D.C.
1970-1977 St. Francis Xavier Parish School, Washington, D.C.
1978-2005 Academy of Notre Dame, Villanova, Pennsylvania
2005-2007 Driving, Trinity Washington University
2007-2008 Medical Driving, Villa Julia Residence, Stephenson, Maryland
2008-2010 Retired, Emmitsburg, Maryland
2010-2017 Ministry of Prayer and Service, Mount Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio

Died January 28, 2017, Cincinnati, Oho

Sr. Kim Dalgarn SNDdeN
January 31, 2017



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Sister Nancy Gnau SNDdeN (formerly Ann Christopher)

January 09, 2017

June 22, 1930 – January 8, 2017

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all you lands; serve the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful song. (Psalm 100:2)

Born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, Sister Nancy Gnau was the oldest of Norman and Marietta Gnau’s five children. An early memory of Nancy’s centered on her parent’s commitment to Catholic education. It was the middle of what would become known as the Great Depression, but they were determined to make the sacrifices necessary to send Nancy to Catholic school. Because of their commitment, Nancy was part of the third generation of women in her mother’s family to be educated in Dayton by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.

Toward the end of Nancy’s sophomore year, the Sisters assigned an essay to be written about what each student planned on doing in her future. The essay was part of the efforts the Sisters made to make sure students took classes that would help them achieve their goals. Decades later Nancy remembered her mother talking her through it, “Would you like to be a secretary? A nurse? A teacher?” Nancy thought teaching might be a good match. Nancy would later say that moment planted a seed for what happened one Wednesday afternoon the following October. Nancy was walking home with friends and stopped to get a drink of water. She let her friends go ahead as she noticed the sun shining through the changing colors of the leaves on the trees. In that moment she felt and heard the call to be a Sister of Notre Dame. It literally stopped her in her tracks. She turned around and returned to school to talk to her French teacher. Sister advised her to pray over it and to keep the experience to herself for a while. Her teacher may have thought it was a passing fancy, but for Nancy it was a done deal. It led to a strong feeling of security – she knew what she was being called to do and did what she needed to respond. The clarity of that afternoon experience stayed with Nancy for the rest of her life.

The third family member of her generation to enter the Sisters of Notre Dame, her parents were pleased with Nancy’s desire to enter religious life, although her mother warned her life in the convent would be “upside down.” On her first day Nancy knew her mother had not exaggerated when she had hotdogs for breakfast and cereal for supper. Known as Sister Ann Christopher and already acknowledged for her gold medal pianist skills, Nancy prepared to teach music by studying at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. However, after a couple of years only teaching music when she wasn’t needed to teach something else, Nancy asked to move into either secondary English or History. The community agreed. Except for one chorus class where she was charged with preparing sophomore boys to participate in an operetta, Nancy spent the rest of her teaching career in social studies.

In 1963, Nancy was missioned to her Alma Mater, Julienne High School, to teach and serve as Assistant Principal and later Principal. By 1971, the Church, the Sisters of Notre Dame and Catholic education in Dayton had changed considerably. Two co-ed Catholic High Schools had opened while both Julienne (all-girls) and Chaminade (all-boys) were both experiencing diminishing enrollment. Nancy and the principal of Chaminade raised the question, “Can we afford to remain two separate institutions?” They decided they needed a committee to study the reality and come up with recommendations for the leadership of their respective communities. Two years later the decision to merge the two schools was made and it was time to implement it. Nancy was chosen to serve as the first Executive Director of the new Chaminade-Julienne High School. In that role, she was responsible for working with a team of four administrators in charge of academics, recruitment and development, student services and administrative services. The school was in a different location, had a melded student body, a larger staff, a new administrative model and was a collaborative effort with another religious community—all of which required constant adjustments on Nancy’s part. She met the challenge with grace and determination to ensure that both the Notre Dame and Marianist charisms and educational traditions would influence the school community. In 1973, Nancy was honored as one of the Ten Top Women of Dayton for her work in education, which included promoting Dayton as a community and as an extension of the classroom. She was determined that the education offered to young men and women at Chaminade-Julienne would “be quality education and meet their needs and provide the background for full human lives.” After three years, the school was stable and Nancy felt it was time to move on. For the rest of her life she would maintain a keen interest in the development of Chaminade-Julienne, including mentoring future leaders of the school, and was proud of how it flourished in the Notre Dame tradition as it continued to serve the city of Dayton.

When Nancy left Chaminade-Julienne, she and Sister Mary Lou Stoffel, who had also been serving in school administration, were sent to Notre Dame University’s Religious Leaders Program. It gave both Sisters the opportunity to re-energize and deepen their leadership skills. Their shared experience led to a life-long friendship, a blessing for which Nancy regularly thanked God. After the year at Notre Dame, Nancy joined the faculty at Notre Dame High School in Chicago and was soon made principal. At NDHS, Nancy implemented a team model of administration, oversaw physical improvements to the facility, encouraged staff involvement in the decisions affecting the life of the school and curriculum development, expanded opportunities for professional development and established an Office of Development. In 1987, the school worked with the city of Chicago to formalize “Sister Nancy Appreciation Day” as a thank you for her dedicated leadership.

When Nancy returned to Ohio, she expressed her openness to serve the Province wherever she was needed. The Province knew it needed to establish an Office of Development; would Nancy be willing to do that? She knew she was no good at asking people for money, but yes, she could serve the Province by laying the groundwork for the Office. Then the Province needed someone to serve at Chaminade-Julienne on the Administrative Team; would Nancy be willing to do that? Yes, she could serve in that role. Then the Province needed someone to take over Facilities at Mount Notre Dame; would Nancy be willing to do that? Well, she didn’t know much about maintenance and buildings, but she was willing to learn. Then the new Health Center needed someone to do Payroll and take care of the Sisters’ budgets; would Nancy be willing to do that? Yes, she was willing to serve there. At different times Nancy also filled the need of a SNDdeN to serve on the Board of Trustees of Mount Notre Dame High School and the Summit Country Day School. Nancy’s administrative skills, coupled with her willingness to listen to and collaborate with others who had the skills she lacked, proved applicable to situation after situation.

In community, Nancy was generous with her time and skills, available to her Sisters, supportive, an excellent listener, sympathetic but honest in her responses, patient and participative. Her natural disposition of experiencing, reflecting on the experience and only then moving to action helped Nancy see the bigger picture and keep mole hills from turning into mountains. Nancy enjoyed taking care of the physical space of places where she lived and took special joy in gardening. She appreciated sharing life with her Sisters: deepening connections with other Sisters living under the same roof and with Sisters in small communities as they gathered in small groups. Nancy appreciated having fun with her Sisters, sharing prayer, and doing so many other things that were part of supporting one another through life’s ups and downs. Nancy enjoyed sports, loved to read, knit, crochet, embroider and sew and at one point, she enjoyed creating beautiful stuffed dolls that were then given as gifts. Music remained a life-long interest. At the time of Nancy’s 50th jubilee, she had the opportunity to get an electric keyboard and renewed her skills on the piano. She described relearning music as a delight and a re-creation. The community delighted in opportunities to hear her play.

Nancy was living alone when she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. She later shared that the diagnosis “brought her up short.” Her prayer and reflection as she lived with the disease opened her to a call to become a resident in the Health Center that she had helped bring into being. Nancy decided it would be better to move to the Health Center before the Parkinson’s became too severe and later said it was a good decision for her to join the Health Center Community in 2007. She continued in her ministry and entered into community life, which included adding her good voice to community singing and taking part in the Chimes Choir. She gladly took responsibility for the enclosed garden off of the Marian Activity Room. It quickly became known as ‘Nancy’s Garden’ and Sisters delighted in the beauty Nancy brought forth there. When it became impossible for Nancy to till the soil herself, family members came and helped her with spring planting and other tasks. Another Sister became her hands and knees and gladly followed Nancy’s direction. As Nancy’s ministry responsibilities diminished, she had “a good time experimenting with free time in retirement.”

Nancy loved her family members deeply. She appreciated time spent with them, both in their homes and when they would visit her. She was “Aunt Nancy” to expanding generations of nieces and nephews and delighted in seeing a fourth and fifth generation taught by Sisters of Notre Dame in Dayton. The same openness that allowed Nancy to recognize God’s presence on a sunny afternoon, and allowed her to pull forth gifts within herself to meet so many ministry situations, also allowed her to recognize God’s goodness and presence in her family members, community members, friends and coworkers. In a 2015 interview, she said, “My family, the community, the people here make it easier for me to do what I’m able to do as best I can. I’m so grateful for all that is done for me and I’m doing my best to give some of it back. God is good in everything – evidence is all over the place and I thank him for that. God is more that the God I knew when I was 18 years old... and I’m delighted. I appreciate God’s supporting me and hanging on to me through all of this. God is much more real to me and I’m much more aware of God’s presence in my life.”

As we celebrate Nancy’s life her family, Sisters and friends delight with her in all the ways God’s goodness was made known to and through her. We pray that God will continue to open her to the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ that she may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Paraphrased from Ephesians 3:18-19)

Bio Data
Born June 22, 1930 in Dayton, Ohio
Parents: Norman Gnau (born in Cincinnati, Ohio) and Marietta Stomps (born in Dayton, Ohio)
Siblings: Norma Gnau Schewell, Edith Gnau Meyers, Mary Gnau Richard, Thomas Gnau

Baptized June 29, 1930 at the Church of the Holy Angels in Dayton, Ohio
Confirmed November 20, 1938 at Corpus Christi in Dayton, Ohio

Entered July 26, 1948 at Mt. Notre Dame
First Profession: January 27, 1951
Final Profession: August 13, 1956

Corpus Christi Grade School, 1944
Julienne High School, 1948
Bachelor of Arts, Ohio Dominican, Columbus Ohio, 1957
Master of Arts, St. Louis University, 1964

Assignments Included:
1952-1954 Summit Country Day School, Cincinnati, Ohio
1954-1955 St. James School, Wyoming, Ohio
1955-1957 St. Mary of the Springs, Columbus, Ohio
1957-1961 Hartley High School, Columbus, Ohio
1961-1963 Notre Dame High School, Chicago, Illinois
1963-1973 Julienne High School, Dayton, Ohio
1973-1976 Chaminade-Julienne High School, Dayton, Ohio
1976-1977 University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana
1977-1987 Notre Dame High School, Chicago, Illinois
1987-1991 Director of Development, Province Offices, Reading, Ohio
1991-1993 Chaminade-Julienne High School, Dayton, Ohio
1993-2001Facilities Manager, Mount Notre Dame, Reading, Ohio
2002-2009 Payroll Clerk, Mount Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio
2009-2015 Finance Assistant, Mount Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio
2016 Finance Advisor, Mount Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio

Died: January 8, 2017 at Mount Notre Dame Health Center

Sr. Kim Dalgarn SNDdeN
January 9, 2016



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Sister Rita Schirtzinger SNDdeN (formerly St. Clement)

January 03, 2017

September 19, 1928 – December 27, 2016

“One thing I ask of the Lord; this I seek: to dwell in the Lord’s house all the days of my life…” (Psalm 27:4)

The Schirtzinger family had been blessed with five boys by the time their first daughter was born. To their dismay the doctor told them he didn’t think the baby would live through the night. Little did he know! This little girl was small but determined. The love and care of her family helped her thrive. They baptized her Rita Odelia, and soon she was following her brothers everywhere and trying to do everything they did. By the time she was four years old, the country was in the throes of the Great Depression and their small farm was not providing enough for the family to survive. Mr. Schirtzinger found work in Dayton and moved the family to Holy Trinity Parish which Rita’s maternal grandfather had helped found.

At Holy Trinity Rita met the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur who were her teachers for 12 years. She loved the Sisters and first thought of entering when she was in the Sixth Grade. She later said, “I preferred Notre Dame because I saw their willing and generous ways.” Rita wanted to follow their example. She entered the summer after her high school graduation and became known as Sister St. Clement until 1968 when she returned to her baptismal name.

Rita started her teaching career with 1st and 2nd Graders. She later related feeling like she didn’t have a clue what to do with the students and how grateful she was for Sisters she worked with who, through word and example, taught her how to teach. Rita quickly discovered that discipline was important, but letting each child know that they were a beloved child of God was even more important. Her desire to help each child succeed led her to specialize in Reading. Rita would also teach 4th through 6th Grade Social Studies and coordinate school libraries. Her organizational skills naturally led to her being asked to serve as principal. Three separate times Rita was assigned as principal. Between each she returned to the classroom because she felt that when a person has been in administration for a while it was good for them to return to the day-to-day work with students. Rita appreciated both roles. She loved everything about teaching and found the pupil-teacher relationship particularly rewarding. Rita called seeing students succeed “a favorite pastime.” About administration Rita said she “enjoyed the interactions with students, parents, faculty members, senior citizens, youth groups, and those outside the parish.”

Participating in parish life energized Rita. She served on Parish Councils, Education Commissions, in choirs, as Lector and Eucharistic Minister and coordinated Parish lists of Lectors and Eucharistic Ministers. She also taught in, as well as sometimes coordinated, Parish CCD programs. Rita found great joy in preparing children to receive the Sacraments. Teaching grade school aged children in CCD was a natural fit, but she also reached out to secondary students by teaching in High School CCD programs.

When Rita “retired” from formal education she put her skills as a Reading specialist to work with adults by joining other Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in the Alliance for Work Based Education program at the University of Dayton. There she helped adults work toward their GED and gain computer skills. When that program closed, the GED program operated by the St. Mary Center was delighted to have Rita volunteer with them. Reflecting back on her life, Rita felt each new ministry situation called forth new talents and gave her a deeper understanding of her commitment to Christ and His Church. She felt that all changes were opportunities for growth for the soul and thanked God for each place she served and community with which she lived. She said, “Happiness and satisfaction really come from within so it is up to me to accept God’s way of showing His love for me here and now.”

Sisters in community described Rita as unselfish, observant, thoughtful and always willing to lend a helping hand. She loved community parties, sharing puns and tongue twisters, a good game of Dominos, Rummikub or Yahtzee, card games, singing Institute Songs and trivia. Once she moved to Mt. Notre Dame, she regularly helped lead evening prayer and visited Sisters in Cuvilly each evening after supper, often finding little ways she could be of help to them. She also appreciated quiet time in her room or chapel, opportunities to read a good book, catch up on email, play a computer game or watch TV. Rita joked about housecleaning being a “hobby” and adding her “muscle” whenever a house needed to be opened, moved or closed – and there were at least nine of these transitions that benefitted from her muscle! She would pitch in to paint, fix something, cook – whatever needed to be done. A special service to the Province was Rita’s willingness to replace another Sister at Logan who was dying of brain cancer. Rita helped the students deal with the mid-year loss of a beloved teacher. She also provided community support to the principal as they closed a convent where Sisters of Notre Dame had lived for 63 years.

Rita did not learn how to drive until 1971. After that “driving” was added to her list of favorite activities. Rita drove other Sisters to Notre Dame Education Conferences around the country. She loved driving to visit relatives – no matter where they were living, and took great joy in driving her dad places. Rita said, “My very special interest is travel.” She was delighted when her brother and sister-in-law invited her to join them on a 1976 trip to Europe. It touched her deeply that her brother added Namur to the itinerary so Rita could visit the Mother House of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. She named her participation in the 1996 Footsteps of Julie Pilgrimage as the ‘greatest honor’ of her life. It reinforced her life-long love for Saint Julie, the foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame, and Rita’s commitment to Julie’s ideal of educating the poor. When she moved to Twin Towers in Dayton after Holy Family Convent Closed, Rita was delighted to find members of the laity drawn to Saint Julie’s Charism. She worked with them to begin a Notre Dame Associates group.

Her extended family was very important to Rita. She stayed in touch through visits, phone calls and letters. Family members knew to let her know when someone needed prayer and counted on her immediately posting the intention so the rest of the community could add their prayers to hers for her loved ones. Her final illness and death took both her family members and her Sisters by surprise. When Rita was celebrating her jubilee she was asked why she became a Sister of Notre Dame. She replied, “Because of an inward knowledge that this would bring me happiness.” Her family, Sisters and friends know in faith that her birth into resurrected life is also bringing her happiness. We thank God for the gift she has been to each of us, and for the many ways she made known God’s goodness to each person she met. We know that Rita continues to hold us in prayer as she rests content in the presence of our good and loving God.

Bio Data
Born September 19, 1928 in Clayton, Ohio
Parents: Carl Louis Schirtzinger (born in Columbus, Ohio) and Marie Helen Barkmeyer (born in Dayton, Ohio)
Siblings: Louis Schirtzinger, Anthony Schirtzinger, Carl Schirtzinger, Clement Schirtzinger, Howard Schirtzinger, Ida Schirtzinger Dunkman

Baptized on September 23, 1928 at St. Rita Church, Dayton, Ohio
Confirmed on June 7, 1936 at Holy Trinity Church, Dayton, Ohio

Entered July 26, 1946 at Mt. Notre Dame
First Profession: January 29, 1949
Final Profession: August 13, 1954

Holy Trinity Parish School, Dayton, Ohio 1942
Julienne High School, Dayton, Ohio, 1946
Bachelor of Science in Education, University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio, 1958
Master of Education, Cardinal Stritch University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1971

Assignments Included:
1950-1951 St. Stephen School, Hamilton, Ohio
1951-1953 St. Robert Bellarmine School, Chicago, Illinois
1953-1959 St. Victor School, Calumet City, Illinois
1959-1963 Holy Angels School, Dayton, Ohio
1963-1964 St. Peter School, South Beloit, Illinois
1964-1973 St. Francis de Sales School, Lebanon, Ohio
1973-1974 St. James School, Wyoming, Ohio
1974-1986 Sts. Peter and Paul School, Reading, Ohio
1986-1987 Immaculate Conception School, Dayton, Ohio
1987-1988 St. John School, Logan, Ohio
1988-1995 Holy Family School, Dayton, Ohio
1995-2007 Tutor & Bookkeeper, Alliance for Work-Based Education Program, Dayton, Ohio
2007-2010 Volunteer Tutor for GED students, St. Mary Center, Dayton, Ohio
2010-2016: Ministry of Prayer and Community Service, Mt. Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio

Died: December 27, 2016 at Mt. Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio

Sr. Kim Dalgarn SNDdeN
December 28, 2016 


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Sister Rita was such a good natured woman and a sweetheart. She was always trying to give me cookies after taking her to a doctor appointment . Many sweets were purloined from the cafeteria, all with good intentions.
Lisa Brackmann 3:35PM 01/03/17

Sister Noreen Joyce, SNDdeN (formerly Catherine Michael)

December 24, 2016

July 24, 1933 – December 20, 2016

Baptized Noreen Mary Joyce, this second daughter and youngest child of Michael and Catherine Joyce was born happy. Her father owned a small radio repair shop that supported the family through the depression, World War II and the years that followed. As a child Noreen dreamed of going to Arizona and running a cattle ranch. She described herself as being “wild about airplanes,” studying the different kinds of aircraft and gleefully calling out their correct names as they flew overhead. When Noreen was preparing to enter the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur her parents dipped into their hard earned savings to buy her an airplane ticket. They thought it would be her only chance to experience flying. Little did they know the path Noreen’s life would take.

Noreen met the Sisters of Notre Dame at Notre Dame High School in Chicago. She liked the Sisters, and especially the sense of joy among them. Sister Helen Cecilia, her Freshman Math and Religion teacher, was transferred to another school at the end of Noreen’s freshman year. It was to her that Noreen wrote during her sophomore year asking for guidance. Not only did Noreen feel called to enter the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, but she was very interested in applying to the Candidacy of the Sisters for her Junior and Senior years of high school. Sister Helen Cecilia encouraged her to follow her heart. Noreen’s parents were supportive and she entered the Candidacy in Columbus, Ohio at the beginning of her junior year. She loved it! So much so she entered in February of 1951 and finished high school as a postulant. When asked why she chose Notre Dame she replied, “I did not, God chose Notre Dame not me, but I thank Him every day for his choice.”

Noreen was given the name Sister Catherine Michael and began her teaching ministry at Villa Park, Illinois. She was always grateful to the Sisters at Villa Park whom she felt taught her so much about teaching and community life. Noreen loved teaching little children. She was able to have fun with them and found herself deeply touched by their simplicity and insights into the world around them. In her many years in the classroom she never taught a class higher than 4th grade. Her specialty was early childhood education. Noreen saw the potential for the Montessori Method and asked to be trained in it. Her work in Montessori included three years directing the Montessori Program at the Summit Country Day School. Throughout Noreen’s years in teaching she sought out workshops and courses that would help her be more effective with her young students. Early teaching years took her all over Illinois, but as she was quick to point out, “I taught all AROUND Chicago but never IN it.” Those years also took her to schools in Ohio where she came to love working with African American children.

In the wake of the Second Vatican Council Noreen answered the call to serve as Director of Religious Education at the parish where she was teaching. In addition to teaching her little ones, Noreen set up the CCD program and taught the 10th grade CCD classes. She tended to her personal renewal as well: participating in the Mini-ARC program in 1972, making a 30 day retreat in 1974, participating in the Global Spirituality Program in 1977-1978, in the Julie Renewal Program in 2000 and in Province sponsored study programs.

It was toward the end of her time in the Global Spirituality Program that Noreen received a letter from a Sister in Arizona asking if Noreen would consider replacing her the following year. Noreen took the request to Province Leadership and was missioned to Arizona that summer. She wasn’t going to run a cattle ranch, but her childhood dream of going to Arizona was about to come true! Arizona lived up to Noreen’s expectations. She was a person who was always cold, until she went to Arizona where she could finally warm up. Noreen welcomed the opportunity to enter into Hispanic culture, and a lively local Church. She earned an Advanced Liturgy Studies certificate and after nine more years in the classroom moved into serving as liturgist in a parish.
Then her mother fell and broke her hip.

By 1990 Noreen’s sister, Ileane, had died and Mrs. Joyce had been widowed. Noreen asked for and received permission to move to Florida to help her mother. The next eight years found her back in early childhood education and lovingly caring for Mrs. Joyce. Noreen, who had always loved community, was grateful another Ohio Sister was also in Florida to help with parent care. Holidays would find Noreen taking her mother to join Sister Gwen and her mother for a light-hearted celebration. Florida also gave Noreen the opportunity to do some flying. The father of one of her students had a small plane and would often take Noreen and his daughter with him on short trips up the coast. Once in a while he would even let Noreen take the controls and do the actual flying.

After her mother’s death Noreen returned to Arizona where she studied spiritual direction and worked as a teacher’s aide until 2010. Her last two years in Arizona she continued to volunteer in early childhood classrooms. In 2012 she moved to Cincinnati and started serving part time as a receptionist for the Province Offices and as a sisterly presence to the Sisters in the Health Center.

In community Noreen was known as light-hearted, fun loving, joyful, warm, friendly to all, interested in those around her and very affirming of her Sisters. Noreen loved people, was a good friend and a mentor to many, a great listener and dedicated to the Notre Dame Mission. She had the reputation for waking up happy, singing early in the morning, and having a pun or a song for every occasion. Noreen loved teasing community members, and she could joke about herself. She knew that non-morning people sometimes “grabbed their coffee and ran” so they wouldn’t have to face her morning energy. Commenting on the number of different communities she lived in Noreen said, “I always looked at it as the Provincial wanted to share good things with the Sisters – so I got moved!” She also said, “I have to say I’ve loved every house I’ve lived in. I enjoyed every mission I’ve been on. They were all so different.” For Noreen the size of the community didn’t matter as long as the spirit among the Sisters was positive.

Noreen enjoyed being out in nature: hiking down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, tubing on the Salt River, horseback riding and exploring new places. It didn’t matter if they were simply sharing a meal or fulfilling a life-long dream and exploring Ireland, she enjoyed spending time with good friends. Noreen also loved her family. She stayed close to her sister’s children, taking great joy in face-to-face visits and Sunday night phone calls. With a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye Noreen recently said, “I have to say I’ve had an exciting life – I can’t complain.”

When asked if she ever doubted her call to religious life, Noreen told of an experience she had as a novice. “In Chapel one morning I was reading John 16:15. The words were: ‘You have not chosen me, I have chosen you.’ They stuck in my heart so hard I never doubted. ‘You have not chosen me, I have chosen you.’ That’s what made me so happy: I knew I was His.” News of Noreen’s final illness took everyone by surprise. She faced it with her characteristic simplicity, positive attitude, and deep faith. As we gather to celebrate her life we miss her deeply but are consoled by our belief that our good God has joyfully welcomed his chosen one home to eternal life. We give thanks for the gift Noreen has been for each of us and ask her prayers that we may follow her example of making God’s goodness known, simply and joyfully, to all those we meet.

Bio Data
Born July 24, 1933 in Chicago, Illinois
Parents: Michael Joyce (born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) and Catherine Hedderman (born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
One sister: Ileane

Baptized August 13, 1933 at St. Mel Church, Chicago, Illinois
Confirmed May 15, 1945 at St. Bartholomew Church, Chicago, Illinois

Entered February 4, 1951 at Mt. Notre Dame
First Profession: August 13, 1953
Final Profession: August 13, 1958

St. Bartholomew Parish School, Chicago, Illinois, 1947
St. Joseph Academy, Columbus, Ohio, 1951
Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio, 1964
Master of Education from the University of Northern Illinois, De Kalb, Illinois, 1972

Assignments Included:
1953-1956 St. Alexander Parish School, Villa Park, Illinois
1956-1957 St. Victor Parish School, Calumet City, Illinois
1957-1960 St. Helen Parish School, Dayton, Ohio
1960-1966 St. James Parish School, Dayton, Ohio
1966-1973 St. Rita Parish School, Rockford, Illinois
1973-1977 Summit Country Day School, Cincinnati, Ohio
1977-1978 Participant, Active Spirituality Program, Mt. St. Joseph College, Mt. St. Joseph, Ohio
1978-1987 Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish School, Glendale, Arizona
1987-1990 Coordinator of Liturgy, Queen of Peace Parish, Mesa, Arizona
1990-1998 St. Coleman Parish School, Pompano Beach, Florida
1998-2000 Student in Spiritual Direction, Kino Institute, Phoenix, Arizona
1999-2008 St. Theresa Parish School, Phoenix, Arizona
2008-2012 Ministry of Prayer, Mesa, Arizona
2012-2016 Community Service, Mt. Notre Dame, Reading, Ohio

Died: December 20, 2016

Sr. Kim Dalgarn SNDdeN
December 21, 2016


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Sister Virginia Lacy, SNDdeN (formerly Michael of the Trinity)

December 06, 2016

June 29, 1931 – December 1, 2016

Raised as the youngest child in a large and loving family in Holy Family Parish, Virginia attributed her own faith to the deep faith passed on to her through her family and the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Virginia “grew up” with the Sisters who were her teachers for twelve years. Virginia would later remember spending Saturdays at school, where Sister would set up the ping pong table so they could play a game or two. Virginia described it as experiencing the human side of the Sisters. As a 5th grader she went to her mother and asked, “Do you think I can go to the convent?” Her mother replied, “Well, we have a long time to think about this.”

During high school the Sisters made Virginia feel needed. She saw them helping others and readily contributed her help as a member of the Catholic Student’s Mission Crusade and Young Christian Student Union. Her desire to “go to the convent” deepened, but she didn’t talk about it because she didn’t want to miss the fun going on around her. She finally talked to her family in early 1949. With their support, Virginia entered that summer.

Virginia was surprised at the struggles she endured her first couple of years in community. She remembered, after one particularly difficult interview with the Novice Mistress, going to Chapel and praying, “O Lord I thought I had this and this and this to bring to you – but they don’t think I have it. Whatever I have left I’m going to bring to you.” It was a significant moment for Virginia that shaped a life-long attitude of giving all she had to give in service to God through service to her Sisters, students, and all those she met.

Virginia started her teaching career as Sister Michael of the Trinity. She would have the opportunity to teach every grade from Kindergarten through 8th and, with one exception, all of her teaching assignments were in urban settings. Virginia’s specialty was Math but, no matter what the subject matter, her focus was on teaching to the needs of the children. Besides being a good teacher, Virginia’s ability to deal with diverse situations and people made her an excellent administrator. She served as the first principal at St. Francis de Sales, a rural school where she, another Sister and a lay teacher were the entire staff; as principal at St. Peter Canisius where over 1,000 students were split between two buildings; as principal of St. James, Dayton where she helped successfully merge three inner-city parish schools into one; and as principal of Dayton Catholic Elementary.

In 1978 Virginia was asked to begin an Office of Gerontology for the Ohio Province. In that role she had the opportunity to meet with older Sisters and listen to their stories. She identified their needs and hopes for their senior years and planned activities accordingly. It was a natural development that, three years later, a consultation of the Sisters would lead to Virginia’s appointment as Coordinator of the Mt. Notre Dame Community. She encouraged each Sister to both take responsibility for her own life and be available and sensitive to members of the community. Virginia did her best to model accepting and appreciating each Sister and helped the Sisters accept and appreciate each other. She started small scripture-based faith sharing groups. For many Sisters it was the first time they had shared the fruit of their years of prayer. Virginia treasured the grace of their sharing and how it deepened her own experience of God. She also treasured the grace of walking with many Sisters on their journey through death to Resurrection. It was during this time that Virginia helped develop and then educate the Sisters in many of the US SNDdeN provinces about Durable Power of Attorneys. The process was a communal effort of facing the reality of death and it was not easy for the community to do. Virginia’s leadership in this area continues to reap benefits for our Sisters today.

After nine years of internal ministry, Virginia returned to formal education as Assistant Superintendent of Schools for the northern area of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Based at St. James Convent in Dayton, she loved the driving involved in her work and loved working with the principals. Virginia also worked with the Catholic Conference of Ohio on the Ohio Catholic Educators Association’s bi-annual program. She was given responsibility for the “paddlewheel” part of the program that required organizing 3,000+ teachers into groups with key teachers presenting practical ideas for the classroom. Virginia was also a prime mover behind the creation of programs to provide adequate and appropriate instruction for special needs students in the Dayton area’s Catholic schools.

In 2000 Virginia’s discernment led her to move into pastoral ministry full time at St. James Parish. From her arrival at St. James in 1973 she had been actively involved in the parish. It was at St. James that the African American Community and culture became so dear to Virginia’s heart. The people of St. James spoke to her soul and drew her to stand with them for the rest of her life. As pastoral minister Virginia made home and hospital visits, helped plan and participated in parish renewal programs, served on parish council and numerous parish committees, and worked with the people as St. James merged with other parishes to form and build St. Benedict the Moor Parish.

In 2004 Virginia closed St. James Convent and moved to Hoover Place, an African American independent living senior citizen community. She continued her work at the parish and took on the job of Assistant to the Manager at Hoover Place. Virginia helped create a homelike atmosphere where residents were happy, safe and secure. Her specific responsibilities included advocacy for residents, recording and banking rents, helping new residents with paperwork, assisting with community events, serving as the point person for all emergencies and providing a presence to residents – especially those who found themselves in painful situations.

From Hoover Place Virginia continued an outreach ministry that began in 1973 when a local businessman and friend wanted to do something to help people trapped in poverty. He gave Virginia $4,000.00 to aid people who needed food, help with the rent, utility bills, medications, etc. She visited the homes of people who expressed a need and often helped beyond what was asked for. The anonymous donor gave another $4,000.00, and another. Through 2015 he entrusted Virginia with up to $20,000.00 a year to help people in need. Each Christmas he would give another $20,000 to provide food and gifts for families that had nothing. Virginia’s relationships with the people she helped fed her own faith and sense of gratitude for all God had given her. It was no surprise to those that know her that Chaminade Julienne High School honored her as a Distinguished Alum in 1997. In 2007 Virginia received both the Mary Scott Nursing Center’s Legacy Award and St. Benedict the Moor’s Cardinal Bernardin Community Service Award. Part of their tribute read: “You display the epitome of our program’s theme, joyful in God’s work while “Making a Difference” in our community. For this we wish to acknowledge the generosity of your diligent and loving service.” The tribute continued: “Sister Virginia lives out her commitment to ‘serve the poor in the most abandoned places’ by continuing to live and work among those who need her most.”

In community Virginia was always a woman of integrity, a compassionate listener, a devoted friend and a hard worker. A high sensate, she noticed little things and did them for the Sisters. Virginia loved to read and knew how to apply insights at appropriate times. She often had just the quote needed to move a meeting toward productiveness. Virginia was an excellent cook, keen card player, enjoyed music and was willing to drive anywhere. She enjoyed a good conversation, shared a keen sense of humor, loved to tease and be teased and was a great team person. Virginia worked at her spiritual life through faithfulness to prayer, workshops, spiritual direction and retreats. Her 30-day retreat was a memorable experience that transformed how she saw God and herself. For 19 years Virginia shared the Notre Dame charism as a Chaminade Julienne Board Member. She started one of the first Notre Dame Associate groups in Dayton, and was the last Moderator of the Julienne Alumnae.

Virginia appreciated the different people God brought to her through each facet of her life. She had a special gift for building relationships with all of them. She valued time spent with her extended family, treasured friendships with co-workers, former students, parishioners and Sisters. Likewise she could reflect on how each ministry called for the growth of different gifts within her. At the time of her Golden Jubilee one friend said of her: “Without fanfare, but with a wealth of vision and vitality, you have labored tirelessly for your church…, you have proven yourself to be an instrument of healing, a learned spiritual leader, a compelling educator, a sensitive counselor, and a loyal friend. In each of these roles, you have conscientiously performed an array of duties, touching countless lives with sensitivity and skill….you have inspired and strengthened virtually everyone who has met you.”

Virginia was once asked if she was afraid of death. She replied, “Well, I hate good-byes and I hate starting over new and death includes both of those.” Virginia went on to reflect on how each time she changed ministries she discovered the new was as beautiful as the old. She joked about “God’s credibility” going up and faced death as one more good-bye leading to the new life of resurrection. Now we, Virginia’s family, friends and Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, gather to celebrate her rich life and all the ways she made God’s goodness known to us. As we celebrate her resting in God’s faithful love it is fitting that we listen to a poem Virginia wrote expressing her faith journey:

For God who is never far away.
For God who is ever near.
To be an empty fragile vessel.
To overflow with God’s love.
To hear God’s word in our world today.
In my Father’s steadfast love.

Bio Data
Born June 29, 1931 in Cincinnati, Ohio
Mother: Etheline M. Lacy (born in Dayton Ohio)
Family: Virginia was raised in the home of her grandparents’ (Walter Lacy and Bernace Plaspohl Lacy) as one of ten siblings: Edith M. Lacy Lange (Fred), Wilma Lacy Haas (Roman), Opal Lacy, Roy Lacy (Mary Lucas), Irene Lacy Newman (Noah), Rhea Lacy Thompson (Robert), Margaret M. Lacy Condy (Ralph), Eileen H. Lacy Link (Don)

Baptized July 12, 1931 at St. Joseph Maternity Hospital, Cincinnati, Ohio
Confirmed November 24, 1940 at Holy Family Church, Dayton, Ohio

Entered July 26, 1949
First Profession: January 26, 1952
Final Profession: August 13, 1957

Holy Family Parish School, Dayton, Ohio, 1945
Julienne High School, Dayton, Ohio, 1949
Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio, 1961
Master of Science in Education from Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1967
Master of Science in Religious Education from the Athenaeum of Ohio, 1981

Assignments Included:
1952-1953 St. Aloysius Parish School, Columbus, Ohio
1953-1960 St. Peter Canisius Parish School, Chicago, Illinois
1960-1961 St. Mary Parish School, Cincinnati, Ohio
1961-1962 St. Paul Parish School, Cincinnati, Ohio
1962-1965 St. Francis de Sales Parish School, Lebanon, Ohio
1965-1973 St. Peter Canisius Parish School, Chicago, Illinois
1973-1975 St. James Parish School, Dayton, Ohio
1975-1976 St. James Parish School & Parish, Dayton, Ohio
1976-1978 Dayton Catholic Elementary School, Dayton, Ohio
1978-1981 Director of Gerontology, Ohio Province, Mount Notre Dame Convent, Reading, Ohio
1981-1987 Community Coordinator, Mount Notre Dame Community, Mount Notre Dame Convent, Reading, Ohio
1987-2000 Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Archdiocese of Cincinnati Northern Area, Dayton, Ohio
2000-2014 Pastoral Minister, St. James/Resurrection/Benedict the Moor Parishes, Dayton, Ohio
2004-2014 Assistant to Manager, Hoover Place, Dayton, Ohio
2014-2016: Community Service, Mt. Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio

Died at Mt. Notre Dame Health Center December 1, 2016

Sr. Kim Dalgarn SNDdeN
December 1, 2016


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Sister Eileen Patricia Hegarty, SNDdeN

November 22, 2016

 May 28, 1932 – November 20, 2016

“I have become proficient in adapting to change,” Eileen Hegarty liked to say. Her list of ministries more than supports that claim. She transitioned with grace from full-time culinary service; to teaching 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in Maryland, New York and Virginia; to health- and elder-care in a variety of settings. In addition, her life as teacher and nurse was frequently seasoned with ample dashes of local-community kitchen duty. Eileen was, you might say, a Jill of all trades.

She loved her Irish-born father, her true blue Philadelphian mother, and her four siblings. She was proud of each member of her family – particularly her mother, who served in Philadelphia’s Archdiocesan Marriage Tribunal. Her strong family background was an excellent preparation for religious-community life.

As a Golden Jubilarian, Eileen remembered how her vocation to religious life had been strongly influenced by two vowed religious. The first was a Sister of St. Joseph: Sr. Helen Anthony, Eileen’s 6th-grade teacher. Her other memorable mentor was a Sister of Notre Dame. Following grade school, Eileen enrolled at West Catholic Girls High School. There, she encountered Sr. Marie Charles (Catherine Mary O’Malley), her sophomore homeroom teacher. Through her, the seed of St. Julie’s charism fell from the hand of God into Eileen’s heart. It would take deep root. She entered Notre Dame at Ilchester in 1950, and ever after loved being an SND.

From the outset, her versatility came into play. Her first assignments were to internal community service as a cook at Ilchester and Villa Julie. But she was soon out on the parochial-school circuit, teaching at various levels along the eastern seaboard, from Staten Island to Norfolk. Eileen loved teaching. Besides her professional training in education, she had another enviable credential: much loved aunt. In that capacity, she had learned to win children’s trust and share their fun. She relished the vivid memory of a particular romp with nieces at her mother’s house. The “game of the day” was to see who could jump up and down farthest and fastest – on a bed, no less, and without falling off! Eileen joined in –carefully! They loved her for the fun of it all.

How did she happen to move from teaching little ones into the world of health-and elder-care? We can’t be sure, but the attraction seems to have been with her for some time. Her sister Hannah’s work directing activities for residents at St. Francis Country House, a rehabilitation and nursing center in Darby, PA, may have been a catalyst. When Eileen moved from Norfolk, VA (her last teaching post), she took a support-staff position at the same care facility, and apparently what she found there fanned the flame of her “call into the ministry of nursing.” After five years at St. Francis and two more at Media’s Manchester House, a similar facility, she began full-time study at Villanova University’s College of Nursing. Though she never earned an RN, she proved herself to be a born caregiver with a remarkable hands-on bedside manner. Her final years of active ministry were spent as a Nursing Assistant, first in hospital settings (Bryn Mawr and Riddle Memorial, PA), and then in Private Duty (Delaware).

When she retired, Eileen’s eye for beauty, her skill in crafts, and her love of reading came to the fore. Painting sun-catchers and coloring intricate geometric designs with precision and taste were special hobbies. She loved showing her handiwork to visitors at Emmitsburg and Mount Notre Dame. Her broad interests and warm personality made her a ready conversationalist in both places, and an enthusiastic participant in the wide range of activities they offered. Along with crafts, she had a special love for parties. (Alas, her sweet tooth was a constant struggle!) She continued to nurture family ties, too. At Emmitsburg, for example, she delighted in being picked up for occasional home-cooked, family-style Sunday dinners by one of her nieces.

When Abram and Sarai set out from Haran, leaving land, relatives and their ancestral house, they had no road map. They walked in faith, trusting that God would show them the way, step by step, and bless them, as promised. So it was with Eileen. Her life is marked by a strong sense of God’s call – in 6th grade, during high school, throughout her Notre Dame life. There was no road map. It was one step at a time, in faith. She could not have imagined at the outset the extent to which she would have to become “proficient in adapting to change.” As in the case of Abram and Sarai, God blessed her, and made her a blessing to many others – SNDs, youngsters, sick people, elderly people, her wonderful family and many friends. Her homecoming on the Feast of Christ the King was God’s final gift to her. May she rest in royal, never-ending peace!


Born Mary Hegarty, May 28, 1932, Philadelphia, PA
Parents: Patrick Joseph and Winifred Marie Clark Hegarty
Siblings: 2 brothers and 2 sisters

Entered Notre Dame August 6, 1950 (Ilchester, MD)
First vows: April 5, 1953
Final Profession: July 30, 1958


Our Lady of Victory, Philadelphia, PA
West Catholic High School for Girls, Philadelphia, PA
B.S., Trinity College, Washington, DC (Education)
Villanova University, Villanova, PA – Study, Nursing Program

Ministries include:

Community Service: 1950-54
Maryland Provincial House, Ilchester, MD (Cook)
Villa Julie, Stevenson, MD (Cook)

Parochial-School Teaching: 1954-76)
Sts Joachim and Ann, Brooklyn, NY (Teacher and Cook)
Little Flower, Great Mills, MD
Holy Rosary, Staten Island, NY
St. Ursula, Baltimore, MD
St. Martin, Gaithersburg, MD
St. Bernadette, Philadelphia, PA
Blessed Sacrament, Norfolk, VA

Health and Elder Care: 1976-90)
St. Francis Country House, Darby, PA (Support Staff)
Manchester House, Media, PA (Support Staff)
Bryn Mawr Hospital, Bryn Mawr, PA (Nursing Assistant)
Riddle Memorial Hospital, Media, PA (Nursing Assistant)
Private-Duty Nursing Assistant (New Castle, DE)

Villa Julie Residence, Stevenson, MD (2002)
St. Julie Hall, Emmitsburg, MD (Assisted Living, 2003)
St. Vincent Care Center, Emmitsburg, MD (Skilled Care, 2005)
Mount Notre Dame Health Center, Cincinnati, OH (2009)

Prepared by Mary Ann Cook, SND, with the assistance of Sr. Mary Adele White


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Sister Marguerite of the Sacred Heart Schoenung

November 15, 2016

 June 22, 1930 – November 14, 2016

Sister Marguerite was born Mary Catherine Schoenung. She and her twin sister were the fourth and fifth children and eldest daughters of what would grow to be a household of 12 children, two loving parents and their Aunt Marney. Mary Catherine and her sister had many happy memories of growing up just down the street from St. George Church. It was at St. George School that they met and quickly came to love the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Both her family and the Sisters instilled in Mary Catherine a deep devotion to the Sacred Heart and the Eucharist. The call to religious life was solidified in the 2nd grade as the twins made their First Communion. Mary Catherine later described the experience: “We had Sisters in school and wanted to do God’s work, too. We always wanted to belong to Jesus.” After Mary Catherine and her sister finished their education they worked for three years to help ease the family’s financial burden. Mary Catherine worked first as a secretary in the payroll department of Red Tap Brewing Company and then as a typist for the Polk Company. In her spare time she took college courses to help prepare for her ministry of teaching.

By spring of 1951 their youngest siblings were well on their way to finishing school so Mary Catherine and her sister made plans to enter the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. The entrance application asked why Mary Catherine wanted to enter Notre Dame. She wrote: “I chose Notre Dame because…the devotion to the Sacred Heart is one of the principal devotions of the Order.” She added “ that I may belong to the Sacred Heart entirely and that I may bring others to know and love Him.” The day the twins entered Notre Dame all of their siblings took off from school or work so they, with Mom, Dad and Aunt Marney, could accompany the twins to Mt. Notre Dame. It was a strong show of love and support that continued through the years.

As postulants, Mary Catherine and her sister became part of a band of 14 women who were encouraged by the Mistress of Postulants not to compete with one another but to love one another. They took her advice to heart and soon named themselves the GGG – the Greatest Group Going. Letters, phone calls and regular reunions have kept them close through the years. As a novice Mary Catherine received the name she was known by for the rest of her life: Sister Marguerite of the Sacred Heart.

Sister began her teaching career with 2nd graders. Eventually she would be able to say she taught every level from kindergarten through 8th grade. Her specialties were math, science and religious education, and at times she served as coordinator for all three areas in the schools she served. An excellent teacher, Sister Marguerite quietly and calmly handled her classes, giving plenty of attention and praise to students who tried hard. She said, “Nothing succeeds like success. If you can get the children to succeed at something and let them know you care about them, they can do anything. I find praise does a lot more than complaining about their behavior.” Sister Marguerite claimed to enjoy teaching no matter what grade she was assigned: “I do believe that for me it doesn’t matter so much which grade I have but the kind of people with which I work.” For her the goal was always to bring Christ’s love to those in need. When she had the opportunity to choose where she would teach, Sister Marguerite consistently choose inner city schools.

Sister recognized the growing needs among the children in our changing world and believed that starting school sooner would heighten their chances of success. She put her theory into practice by spending the last 24 years of her full-time teaching career with kindergarteners. It was no surprise to anyone that she was “fantastic with little children.” In 1999 Sister Marguerite received the Miami Valley Catholic Education Council Teacher of Excellence Award in recognition of her 45 years of full time teaching. Asked what motivated her in the classroom she said, “To let the children know that God loves them no matter what they do.”

For 25 summers Sister Marguerite and her sister extended their teaching to the neediest children in Cincinnati’s Millvale neighborhood where, through the Practical Family Living Center, they organized field trips, arts and crafts programs, and did some reading and math tutoring. In 1997 the twins began tutoring in the summer program at Corryville Catholic School. It was a natural transition in 1999, when they left full time teaching, to continuing tutoring at Corryville Catholic. For two years they served as full time tutors through the Notre Dame Mission Volunteer AmeriCorps Program. Sister Marguerite continued tutoring at Corryville through 2011.

Sister Marguerite and her twin, Sister Frances Mary, were happy being twins and were extremely close. For 17 years they were missioned to separate house, and often in separate cities. In 1971 Sister Frances Mary was given the opportunity to continue teaching at St. Helen’s but to live at Holy Family Convent in Dayton where Sister Marguerite lived. The twins were delighted to be back under the same roof and were inseparable from then on. The two sisters were best friends and thanked God for the blessing of being able to live in the same community. They claimed never to have had an argument. The twins described their life together as “our together way to God.” Journeying life together with God, they believed, allowed them to do many things that they might not have been able to do separately.

During their years at Holy Family Parish, the sisters worked together every Friday evening to clean the church and take care of other work in the sacristy. At their golden jubilee one parishioner said, “The piety, humility and dedication of these extraordinary women exemplify the characteristics of the hundreds of Sisters who have taught East Dayton children ….” Besides her work in the sacristy, Sister Marguerite served as a lector and Eucharistic Minister in the parishes where she lived. She also coordinated CCD classes and, at Holy Family Parish, she was a regular bingo worker.

Another “together” experience was the deep devotion of the twins to their niece, Francie. While they were devoted to all of their family, Francie was a special needs child. From her birth the twins accepted and loved her totally. For Marguerite a memorable experience of her life was teaching Francie to read. Francie’s mother left the family when Francie was 10 years old. The twins had already been offering emotional support and weekend help to Francie’s dad, a role they continued as long as they were able. When they moved to Cincinnati in 1999 the twins were given permission to live with their younger sister, Ruth, who had followed her own call to the religious life as a Sister of St. Francis. Ruth lived in a house owned by Francie’s father, Tom. Francie would join her three aunts for weekends and return home during the week. After Ruth’s death the twins continued living in the house and spending weekends with Francie for as long as they could.

In community Sister Marguerite was a loyal friend & a good listener. She was very interested in what is going on in the lives of the Sisters and her excellent memory helped her remember details. It should not surprise anyone that one year on retreat Sister Marguerite and her sister memorized the entrance date of every Sister in the Province so they could pray for each one on her anniversary of entrance. Marguerite took a special interest in Sisters who were ill, asking for updates so she could focus her prayers for each one. Sister Marguerite kept up with current events, enjoyed reading, a good discussion, movies and TV programs that offered some depth. She appreciated opportunities for intellectual development and spiritual growth. A special cross for Sister Marguerite in her later years was her hearing difficulty. Her first words on joining Sisters at table were always, “Were there any announcements?”

Sister Marguerite welcomed the changes in religious life brought about by Vatican II. She felt the changes improved her interaction with parents of children she taught, made her work at Millvale possible, enabled her to have closer relationships with her family and coworkers and made it possible for her to spend time with Francie. As Sister became less able to do for others she put more of her time and energy into praying for people and the problems facing our world. Besides participating in daily Eucharist, Sister Marguerite was very devoted to her daily rosary. As she prayed it, she mentioned many of her Sisters, and others in need of prayer, by name.

At the time of her 60th jubilee she wrote, “God has showered me with many blessings. God has exceeded my every hope, and I am so grateful to Him for all these gifts.” We, Sister Marguerite’s family, friends and Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, are so grateful to our good God for gifting us with Sister Marguerite. We thank God for all the ways she made God’s goodness known through her life. As we gather to celebrate her life, we pray with her, as we know she continues to pray for us:

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all you lands; serve the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful song…Enter his gates with thanksgiving, his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name; good indeed is the Lord, His mercy endures forever, his faithfulness lasts through every generation. (Psalm 100)

Bio Data
Born June 22, 1930 in Cincinnati, Ohio
Parents: Martin Schoenung (born in Cincinnati, Ohio) and Frances Deters (born in Cincinnati, Ohio)
Siblings: Stanley Schoenung, Martin Schoenung Jr., Raymond Schoenung, Sr. Frances Mary of the Sacred Heart Schoenung SNDdeN, Hubert Schoenung, Sr. Ruth Schoenung OSF, John Schoenung, Jerome Schoenung, Julie Schoenung Reece, Joseph Schoenung, Thomas Schoenung

Baptized on June 29, 1930 at St. George Church, Cincinnati, Ohio
Confirmed on June 18, 1939 at St. George Church, Cincinnati, Ohio

Entered September 7, 1951 at Mt. Notre Dame
First Profession: March 12, 1954
Final Profession: August 13, 1959

St. George Parish School, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1944
Our lady of Angels High School, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1948
Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio, 1965

Assignments Included:
1954-1958 St. Robert Bellarmine School, Chicago, Illinois
1958-1959 St. Augustine School, Columbus, Ohio
1959-1962 Ascension School, Dayton, Ohio
1962-1965 Our Lady of the Rosary School, Dayton, Ohio
1965-1966 St. Augustine School, Columbus, Ohio
1966-1999 Holy Family School, Dayton, Ohio
1999-2001 Notre Dame AmeriCorps Member, Cincinnati, Ohio
2001-2010 Volunteer Tutor, Corryville Catholic School, Cincinnati, Ohio
2011-2016 Ministry of Prayer, Mt. Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio

Died at Mt. Notre Dame Health Center on November 14, 2016

Sr. Kim Dalgarn SNDdeN
November 15, 2016


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Sister James Marie O'Donnell

November 15, 2016

August 15, 1923 – October 26, 2016

“It was Julie’s charism that attracted me,” Sr. James Marie remembered at the time of her Diamond Jubilee as a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur. That same charism sustained her throughout her lifetime.

Julie had promised those who threw in their lot with her that their lives would be marked by the cross – a promise that proved true for James Marie. Physical pain was her constant companion; sadness often knocked at her door. Yet, SND friends remember her infectious, hearty laugh, her generous apostolic outreach and her gratitude for the smallest thing anyone did for her.

James Marie was especially grateful to her father for bravely giving his blessing to her decision to enter Notre Dame not long after his wife’s untimely death. “It must have been difficult for him,” she wrote. The same generous strength was to manifest itself in her own life. And there was to be an unexpected reward for both of them: “In the early 70’s,” she remembered, “I was among the pioneers who were privileged to be caretakers for parents. I looked after my father.” A favorite pastime for father and daughter alike seems to have been rooting for the other Notre Dame’s football team on TV. But the feelings ran much deeper: “You can imagine the joy this was for him and for me,” she smiled, “to be with him during the springtime of his old age until we said ‘Good bye until we meet again.’”

Most of James Marie’s active ministry was spent in teaching. “These were happy years,” she wrote, “and I loved every minute of them!” But her time with her father had awakened a realization that “there was much to do outside the classroom to alleviate the needs of the poor and suffering.” So it was that in 1981, she began twelve years as an in-home caregiver. She especially treasured her service of “a beautiful lady during her twilight years when she was very close to God.“ James Marie also reached out to the woman’s family and friends.

All her life, whether in full-time ministry or retirement, James Marie was what SNDs like to call “a community woman” - from head to toe. Wherever she hung her hat, “James-y,” as we loved to call her, wanted to know everything that was happening out in the houses! St Julie had resorted to letter-writing; James-y took to the phone! From Villa Julie, Emmitsburg or Mount Notre Dame, she opened lines of two-way communication, keeping all sides informed of the latest news. Was a Sister unwell? Out went the call to prayer! Had there been an SND guest from Africa or Latin America? Everyone should know the great work our Sisters are doing there! Yes, James Marie loved to talk; friends knew to allow a good half hour for her calls. But especially during her less active years, this was her way of living community and mission. A Sister who has worked for many years with migrants in Florida wrote, when she heard of James Marie’s death:  “She supported us in our ministry and always asked about the people we had the privilege to serve. We will miss her.”

James Marie was always ready to do what she could, whether it was teaching “a new class every six months” at Ridgewood (“an experience to remember!”); or helping staff the receptionist desk at Villa Julie; or helping the Tri-Province Development Office by writing thank-you notes to generous benefactors; or finding “real joy” in connecting with “pupils and friends of yesteryear.”

However rough the road at times, this valiant woman forged ahead. “I give thanks to our Good God,” she wrote in 2013, “for gifting me with 70 years as a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur.” Her choice of readings for her funeral Mass reflects at one and the same time her suffering and her abiding trust in the God she served so well:

"The Lord GOD~will wipe away
the tears from all faces . . . .
This is the LORD~to whom we looked;
let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!”
(Isaiah 25: 8 & 9)

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,~and I will give you rest.~Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Mt 25: 28-30)


Born Mary Ellen O’Donnell, August 15, 1p23, Philadelphia, PA
Parents: James and Ella Marie McAleer O’Donnell
Two brothers: James and Joseph

Transferred from Marple Newton High School to Notre Dame Moylan, 1941
Graduated 1943
B.S., Trinity College, Washington DC

Entered Notre Dame January 31, 1943, Ilchester, MD
Received the habit August 1, 1943
First Vows: July 30, 1945
Final Profession: July 30, 1950

Educational ministries include:
St. Francis Xavier, Washington, DC
St. Stephen, Washington, DC
St. Martin (T. St.), Washington, DC
St. Catherine of Genoa, Brooklyn, NY
St. James, Mt. Rainier, MD
Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Ridgewood, NY
St. Bernadette, Philadelphia, PA (twice)
St. Eleanor, Collegeville, PA
St. Albert the Great, Philadelphia, PA
Notre Dame High School, Moylan, PA
St. Maria Goretti High School, Philadelphia, PA (Library Assistant)

Home Care Provider
Initially, for her father, James O’Donnell (Drexel Hill, PA, early 1970’s)
Companion to Elderly (Philadelphia, PA, 1981-93)

Julie Billiart House of Studies, Washington, DC, 1993
Villa Julie Residence, Stevenson, MD, 1999 (Volunteer, Tri-Province Develoment Office)
St. Julie Hall, Emmitsburg, MD, 2008
Mount Notre Dame, Cincinnati, OH, 2009


Prepared by Mary Ann Cook, SNDdeN


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We Will Always Remember

Each year on the Feast of All Souls, we remember the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur who have gone home to God in the past year. To view complete obituaries, please click on the Sister's picture or name.

Memorial gifts may be made to The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, 701 E. Columbia Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45215. To make an online memorial contribution, click here.