Sister Lorraine Oswald, SNDdeN

Sister Lorraine Oswald, SNDdeN

February 3, 1933 – February 9, 2016

Lorraine Marion Oswald was born in Chicago to parents who had emigrated from Germany. Even though they stayed closely connected to relatives in Germany and spoke German in the home, the Oswalds were American through and through. The polling station for their voting precinct was in the basement of the Oswald home. Is it any wonder that Lorraine grew up to have a keen interest in what was going on in the world and a strong sense of civic responsibility? An equally important part of the Oswald family life was their Catholic faith. It provided the lens through which Lorraine viewed the world around her and a call to use her gifts to help make the world a better place. As she expressed in a recent interview, “I always felt that I wanted to be involved in prayer and service, that that would be my life.”

Mr. Oswald worked as an electrician to support the family, and was good at fixing things around the house. He passed on to both of his children his love of working with his hands, his skills with tools, machinery and his knowledge of basic maintenance, and a practical approach to life. He also passed on his love of fishing. Lorraine and her brother bought a lakeside lot in the Channel Lakes area and she had many happy memories of vacations spent fishing with her father and brother.

The School Sisters of St. Francis were Lorraine’s teachers throughout elementary school. Lorraine loved them and felt she was being called to be one of them. Ever practical, she thought it would be a good idea to test her vocation by going to a non-Franciscan high school. So she enrolled at Notre Dame High School and met the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Lorraine soon read the life of Julie Billiart, the foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, and was immediately drawn to her spirit. Lorraine said, “Here was a woman, a real woman: down to earth, practical.” Lorraine joined the Sodality through which she learned to pray, to read scripture, and to meditate. She was invited to join the Good Counsel club which helped students think about their future life choices. In 2009 Lorraine wrote, “The Sisters I knew while I was a student at Notre Dame High School in Chicago had a spirit that filled the space around us. Eventually I recognized it as a spirit of love, joy, simplicity, and dedication.” It was a spirit that spoke to her heart and by the time she was a senior it was clear that her vocation was to the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.

Lorraine entered the community in September of 1951 and became known as Sister Anthony Mary. She started her teaching career with the kindergartens at the Summit Country Day School in 1953. Working with an experienced Sister and 80 children, she experienced what teaching and learning were all about. Sister Anthony Mary went to the fourth grade boys next, and then fifth grade girls and the high school typing class. She loved teaching and community life, but her health was not good. When surgery did not solve the problem, it was decided Lorraine would leave Notre Dame, go home to her family, and focus on recovering her health.

It was not Chicago Lorraine returned to in 1956, but Itasca, Illinois where her father had built a home and moved the family. Lorraine found employment with Deinert Import Export Company as a secretary. At the same time she enrolled at DePaul University to continue her studies towards a teaching degree. She found a clerical position on campus to help with expenses but soon another path opened. Her mother told a census worker that Lorraine was living with them and working on her teaching degree. The census taker knew the Itasca Public Schools were very short of teachers and passed along the information about Lorraine. Soon she was recruited to teach sixth grade and quickly moved up to Junior High. She taught in the Itasca system through the spring of 1964.

During her years in Itasca, Lorraine completed her Bachelor’s and earned cum laude honors with a Master of Education. She made close friends among her co-workers, learned to drive a boat on the lake, and continued her hobby of photography, which had started in high school when she sold enough subscriptions to win a camera. Lorraine helped start a Girl Scout Troop in Itasca, taught in the CCD program at her parish, sang in the choir, served on the Welfare and Ethics Committee of the Illinois Education Association, and regained her health. Her life was filled with prayer and service, but she missed community and felt that Notre Dame was where she belonged. Lorraine entered again in August of 1964. After two weeks as a postulant she moved to the novitiate and was known for a short time as Sister Mary Anthony. She quickly learned that things were not the same in Notre Dame as the renewal called for by the Second Vatican Council was already beginning. One of the first changes was the opportunity to return to her baptismal name, which Lorraine did. She felt things were more open in Notre Dame. She appreciated the increased dialogue, and she felt freer and more able to express herself.

Lorraine continued teaching until 1998. She spent 29 of those years at St. Alexander’s in Villa Park teaching Junior High Language Arts and Religion. At various times during those years Lorraine was involved in curriculum development, oversaw the Safety Patrol program, and helped with administrative duties including scheduling. She was involved with the United Farm Workers and Network, serving as the Network coordinator for the 11th Congressional District for a couple of years. Many of the summers in the 1960’s and 1970’s found Lorraine doing coursework or workshops to maintain her teacher certification or running sports programs for children in Arizona and Mexico. She also kept up her relationships with her friends from Itasca and spent time with her brother and sister-in-law and her nieces.

After retiring from teaching, Lorraine participated in a sabbatical program and then was asked to move to Cincinnati to help in the Province Archives. She arrived just in time to help pack up the Ohio Province Archives and Museum and help set up a temporary workspace for the Archives as the building it was housed in was being torn down. Lorraine had thought she’d like archival work. She found that the moving process utilized many of her skills, but once the Archives was relocated to its current space, she discovered she needed something more active than what normal archival work provided.

Lorraine approached Sister Ann Rene McConn and asked if her skills might be of use with Cincinnati Housing Partners. The answer was a resounding “Yes!” Lorraine spent 13 years as CHP’s “volunteer extraordinaire.” She put her skills with tools, learned from her father, to work helping deconstruct and renovate homes for the program that were made available to low-income, first-time home buyers. Lorraine worked with many short-term volunteer groups who came from all over the country to help with the rehab projects. She enjoyed working with the young people who were part of those groups, finding her own energy renewed by their hope and enthusiasm.

Lorraine also shared her practical skills in community where she was known as “Ozzie.” She was a member of the St. Robert Bellarmine Community for 27 of the 29 years she taught at Villa Park, and a member of the founding community at St. Catherine’s in Cincinnati. Ozzie often took pictures of community activities – as she did for many school, parish, and ministry activities throughout the years. Once the pictures were developed she lovingly created annotated albums, many of which have been given to the Archives. With community members Ozzie shared her love of sports of all sorts, her interest in current events, her attentiveness to current issues that the community was grappling with, and her love of St. Julie. About that “spirit of love, joy, simplicity and dedication” she had recognized in the Sisters during high school Ozzie went on to say: “It was not until after I entered Notre Dame that I learned that these were some of the characteristics that Julie Billiart instilled in her Sisters. I am constantly influenced by our Sisters who exhibit these and other traits that characterize the spirit and charism of our foundress.”

Ozzie, too, lived out these traits as she entered into the lives of her Sisters in community. She served as local treasurer, as a member of the Province Finance Board, of Loreli Board, and of the Assembly. She also took great care setting many a table for a community celebration. For at least 20 years she worked with other Sisters to plan and implement vacation weeks at Lake Loreli for Sisters living at Mount Notre Dame. Special menus, games, and prayers would be planned. Sisters would come out for a day and Ozzie would help prepare the meals, guide the games, help Sisters fish if they so desired, and take the Sisters on boat rides. Her specialty was driving the pontoon boat and giving guided tours of the lake. She felt she really got to know the Sisters out at Loreli and she had so much fun in the process!

One of Ozzie’s favorite quotes from St. Julie was, “I wish for all of you the love of God above all things.” As we gather to give thanks for the life of Sister Lorraine Oswald we give thanks for the love of God and tremendous goodness of God we’ve experienced through her. Her Sisters in Notre Dame, her sister-in-law Sandra, her beloved nieces, Janice and Toni, and their families, her coworkers, and friends mourn her death and celebrate her new life. We take comfort from another of her favorite St. Julie quotes: “I can tell you that the good God is very good. God grants us many graces by calling us to his holy service.” May each of us, like Ozzie, strive to live lives of prayer and service, making known God’s goodness and love to all those we meet.

Bio Data
Born February 3, 1933 in Chicago, Illinois
Parents: Anton Oswald (born in Bavaria, Germany) and Mary Ann Nadworny (born in Danzig, Germany)
Sibling: Alfred A. Oswald

Baptized March 5, 1933 at St. Clement Church, Chicago, Illinois

Entered September 6, 1951 at Mt. Notre Dame
First Profession: March 12, 1954
Exit: February 5, 1956
Entered again August 13, 1964 at Mt. Notre Dame
First Profession: August 13, 1966
Final Vows: August 20, 1974

St. Philomena Parish School, Chicago, Illinois, 1947
Notre Dame High School, Chicago, Illinois, 1951
Bachelor of Arts in Education from De Paul University, Chicago, Illinois, 1959
Masters of Education, from the National College of Education, Evanston, Illinois, 1963

Assignments Included:
1953-1955 Summit Country Day School, Cincinnati, Ohio
1955-1956 Mt. Notre Dame Academy, Reading, Ohio
1965-1966 Our Lady of the Sacred Heart School, Reading, Ohio
1966-1967 St. Peter Canisius School, Chicago, Illinois
1967-1969 Ascension School, Dayton, Ohio
1969-1998 St. Alexander School, Villa Park, Illinois
1998-1999 Sabbatical, St. Stephen Priory, Dover, Massachusetts
1999-2001 Assistant to the Archivist, Province Offices, Mt. Notre Dame, Reading, Ohio
2001-2014 Volunteer, Cincinnati Housing Partners, Cincinnati, Ohio
2014-2016 Community Service, Julie Community, Mt. Notre Dame, Reading, Ohio

Died: Good Samaritan Hospital, Cincinnati, Ohio

Sr. Kim Dalgarn SNDdeN
February 10, 2016