Sister Mary Alice Weber SNDdeN
August 4, 1917 – June 8, 2018
When the good God grants me the grace of meeting good people, what a real enjoyment it is for me!
(Letter 105, Saint Julie Billiart)
As she was preparing to celebrate her 100th birthday, Sister Mary Alice Weber was asked, “Why did why she became a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur?” She replied with a perfectly straight face: “Because my mother told me to.” Then she laughed and laughed. Perhaps her laughter was the disbelief on the questioner’s face. Perhaps it was because her well-known nickname was ‘Sarge’ and Mary Alice delighted in the image of being someone who told other people what to do. Sister went on to explain that there was a little more to the story.
Mary Alice’s mother was raised in Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Dayton, Ohio and was taught by the Sisters of Notre Dame there. After her parents married, they lived for a while in Holy Family Parish which was also staffed by the Sisters of Notre Dame. One of Mary Alice’s cherished memories of her father was holding his hand as she climbed the steps leading into Holy Family Church. While she was still small, the Webers moved into the home of her maternal grandparents in Our Lady of the Rosary Parish where Mary Alice, her brother and sister were all educated by the Sisters of Notre Dame.
Mary Alice was set on being a teacher at a young age. Her sister, Arlene was 10 years younger and Mary Alice was determined Arlene would be the smartest in the class. Arlene suffered through hours of drilling as Mary Alice taught the ABCs, how to count and other information that gave Arlene a head start. For Mary Alice being a teacher meant being a Sister. When she mentioned her desire to her mother, Mrs. Weber agreed with her entering the Sisters of Notre Dame – they were the Sisters her family had known for three generations. Mary Alice entered a few months after her high school graduation and was given the name Sister Alice Therese when she received the habit. She asked for Therese to be part of her religious name because of her father’s great devotion to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux and because she had taken that name at Confirmation. In 1969 she returned to using her baptismal name.
As a Sister of Notre Dame, Mary Alice’s wish to be a teacher came true. For 48 years she served in formal education. At points during those years Mary Alice taught every grade except first and second and served as principal for a total of ten years. Math and Science were her specialties and she could put on a good stern German face that helped keep good discipline. Mary Alice also helped with summer camps, participated in reading clinics, tutored, taught CCD and was extremely efficient when on parking duty. Her summers usually found her updating her own learning. Mary Alice took advantage of grants from the National Science Foundation to attend Math and Science courses and seminars around the country.
St. Helen’s Parish School in Dayton was Mary Alice’s last teaching assignment. When she reached her 50th anniversary as a Sister, she decided to retire. The St. Helen’s Booster Club gave her a hot-air balloon ride to celebrate. When she came back down to earth, she started a 21 year ministry at St. Helen’s through which she visited the sick and shut-ins. Her visits provided a welcome connection to Church, good conversation, prayer and Eucharist. Mary Alice also served as a Eucharistic Minister for Parish Masses, participated in the Senior Citizen Club, and in many other ways. In 2010, Mary Alice wrote about her experience at St. Helen’s:
I have been blessed to know the apostolic spirit not just in a single moment, but in a 38-year period of my life during my ministry at St. Helen’s in Dayton. I loved the community of my Sisters and the parish. There was never a shortage of free thinkers, brilliant minds and busy hands. It was an exciting time that was remarkable for its freedom and simplicity, and it continues to occupy a place in my heart today.
In community, Mary Alice was often “Sarge,” with a rough demeanor that masked a fun-loving, teasing, adventurous spirit. Travel was one of Mary Alice’s favorite things to do. She was delighted when she was offered the opportunity to attend a renewal program in Rome. She and another Sister went a little early, stayed a little late and managed to visit 11 countries along the way. Two of her most memorable experiences were her visits to the shrines of Our Lady at Lourdes and Guadalupe. Mary Alice enjoyed attending Elder Hostels because of the people she met and the opportunities they provided to learn something new. She enjoyed playing cards – especially if she won, reading and stamp collecting. Mary Alice had a marvelous memory for people and past events and felt that one of her talents was her ability to appreciate each person for their uniqueness. She maintained a vast correspondence with family and friends after retiring to Mt. Notre Dame Health Center in 2007, and appreciated the ability to cross distances through the phone lines. Mary Alice loved any activity that took her outdoors: nature spoke to her of the vastness of God’s love and goodness.
Known as Aunt Mary to her family, Mary Alice was the go-to math tutor for at least two generations. One niece fondly recalled Mary Alice marching her through two years of math in one day, with no bathroom breaks. Mary Alice proudly shared the latest family news and photos when she received them. She kept the Sisters praying for family members at different stages of life and growth, and enjoyed “showing off” her family members when they came to visit.
Mary Alice reflected on her life in 2015: “As I look back on my years in religious life, I feel the joy-the type that comes from the little things: sharing moments with other Sisters and celebrating milestones with family, friends and former students. If my 80 years (of religious life) were a book, I’d want to read it all over again.” While her life was long, her death was quick with our good God drawing her to himself on the Feast of the Sacred Heart. As her Sisters, family and friends gather to celebrate her 100+ years of life, we thank our good God for the many facets of our Mary Alice. We take this opportunity to reflect on the different chapters that made up her book of life and thank God for the many ways she made God’s goodness known to each person she met. As Mary Alice enters into the joy of eternal life, we pray: This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice in it and be glad. (Psalm 18:24)
Born August 4, 1917 in Dayton, Ohio
Parents: August Weber (born in Versailles, Ohio) and Clara Kaufman (born in Dayton, Ohio)
Siblings: Louis Weber, Arlene Weber O’Connell
Baptized on August 5, 1917 at Our Lady of the Rosary Church, Dayton, Ohio
Confirmed on November 2, 1927 at Our Lady of the Rosary Church, Dayton, Ohio
Entered September 29, 1935 at Mt. Notre Dame
First Profession: March 27, 1938
Final Profession: August 13, 1943
Our Lady of the Rosary, Dayton, Ohio, 1931
Julienne High School, Dayton, Ohio, 1935
Bachelor of Science in Education from Ohio Dominican College, Columbus, Ohio, 1950
Masters of Education in Educational Administration from Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1956
1938-1939 St. Joseph Academy, Columbus, Ohio
1939-1940 St. Alexander School, Villa Park, Illinois
1940-1940 Student at the Athenaeum of Ohio in Cincinnati, Ohio
1940-1941 St. Michael School, Sharonville, Ohio
1941-1942 Sts. Peter and Paul School, Reading, Ohio
1942-1945 St. Aloysius School, Columbus, Ohio
1945-1956 Summit Country Day School, Cincinnati, Ohio
1956-1958 Holy Family School, Dayton, Ohio
1958-1963 Ascension School, Dayton, Ohio
1963-1965 Sts. Peter and Paul School, Reading, Ohio
1965-1966 St. Augustine School, Columbus, Ohio
1966-1969 St. Agnes School, Columbus, Ohio
1969-1986 St. Helen School, Dayton, Ohio
1986-2007 St. Helen Parish, Dayton, Ohio
2007-2018 Community Service, Ministry of Prayer, Mt. Notre Dame Convent, Reading, Ohio
Died: June 8, 2018 at Mt. Notre Dame, Reading, Ohio
Sr. Kim Dalgarn SNDdeN
June 10, 2018