Sister Diane Reed SNDdeN
July 24, 1932 - September 29, 2020
Like Mary whose name we bear, we are called to hear the word of God and keep it. Our attentive listening shapes in us a contemplative and prophetic attitude toward the whole of life and enables us to act in ways, which witness to God's love and justice. (#47 Constitutions, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur)
While she was born and grew up in Columbus, Ohio, Sister Diane Reed’s roots were deep in the farmlands of southeastern Ohio. She attributed her own love of nature and desire for a simple life to her Amish ancestors, and many of her favorite childhood memories were of time spent with grandparents and other relatives ‘on the farm’. During those visits, the seeds of Diane’s contemplative spirit were nurtured and grew.
In Columbus, the Reed family were members of St. Aloysius Parish. Diane and her older brother attended the parish school where they were taught by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. By the end of her second year of high school, Diane was pretty sure God was calling her to religious life. She entered the candidacy of the Sisters of Notre Dame in August 1948 to continue her discernment. As a candidate, Diane lived with the Sisters and other young women in discernment while completing high school at St. Joseph Academy. She saw religious life “… to be one of utter trust in God, a constant putting aside of self for love of God and neighbor; a life of ‘total giving’”. To continue to give of herself, she officially entered the community the September after she graduated. Sister Mary Peter was the name given to Diane as a novice, and she would use it until 1969.
Diane spent her first 20 years of ministry as a Sister of Notre Dame teaching every grade from 2 through 8 in various parish schools in Illinois and Ohio. The age of the students varied from year to year, but her interest in each of them was as a beloved child of God, and the creativity she brought to teaching remained constant. As the Church entered into the renewal called for by the Second Vatican Council, Diane took advantage of workshops and courses to renew her own education. She saw the need for new approaches to Religious Education for children and adults, and she prepared to help meet it.
The next 30 years of Diane’s ministry as a Sister of Notre Dame was a collage of serving as parish religious education coordinator for preschool through high school students, full-time, part-time and substitute teaching of junior high school students, serving as extended staff for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati Religious Education Office, getting updated religious education materials into the hands of teachers and parish ministers. What did ‘parish ministry’ include? Tasks like serving as secretary, facilitating prayer groups, making pastoral visits to shut-ins and nursing homes, being available for pastoral counseling, coordinating parish committees from Bereavement to Children’s Activities, and being the official “pray-er” for the parish. In all these ministries her interest in each person and her creativity were great gifts. When the Oklahoma City bombing happened, Diane worked with her students to create a quilt expressing their feelings about the horrific event. They mailed the quilt to people of Oklahoma City. She helped other children dealing with news of a school shooting create a ‘weeping wall’ out of messages and prayers written on paper tear drops. Both examples illustrate Diane’s gift for helping people dive within themselves to connect to deeper feelings and to others near and far.
In 2003 Diane ‘retired’, i.e. began a series of volunteer ministries. At Valley Interfaith she sorted clothes, helped in the food pantry, and helped prepare Christmas baskets for clients. Diane also made it a point to simply be kind to people. It didn’t matter if it were a neighbor walking by, the Kroger cashier, the clerk at the hardware store or the gentleman who helped her develop photos at the drug store – she would greet them with a smile. That would lead to sharing names and stories. That led to taking her new friend’s prayer intentions regularly to prayer. That led to staying connected by phone. Diane knew that just listening to people was a gift she could give and how much it meant to those to whom she simply listened. She wrote, “I am enjoying my retirement years spending time nurturing my contemplative heart. Gardening, harvesting seeds, tending the earth restores me. I am playing the piano again, writing, reading poetry and prose. I am connecting more with people, making friends, listening to people, being mindful of our Sisters. It all feels right and good.”
Diane was a wonderful example of a ‘contemplative in action’. She loved people and liked nothing better than a good conversation. She also loved silence and solitude. Diane enjoyed time spent in nature: gardening, slow walks in the woods, capturing beauty with a camera, and watching the birds feed at her window. The time spent alone was time lifting up friends, family, Sisters and the needs of the world in prayer. It was also time spent reading, pondering, and writing. Her writing included reflections and prayers that were posted on the Ohio Province website and Facebook pages. Diane would not touch a computer, but her contributions fed the spirituality of many through computers. She shared the beauty she saw around her through greeting cards created from her most striking photos. These cards were often given as gifts and used for notes of thanks and affirmation. Diane shared community with Carol DeFiore for decades, and together they created individual care packages of notes, candy or fresh baked brownies for Sisters, friends, and coworkers. Diane also kept up a ministry of reaching out to others by phone. As she said, “Sometimes people just need someone to listen”.
Time spent with her family members, in person or via phone, were treasured by Diane. Her brother Richard, his wife Mary, Diane’s three beloved nieces and their families brought great joy to Diane. They were never far from her thoughts and prayers.
In 1985 Diane wrote a reflection on the story of Bartimeus (Mark 10:46-52). She said: “We cannot help but admire the tenacious faith and simple courage of Bartimaeus….Once the cry of Bartimaeus reaches Jesus, someone shouts, ‘Get up! He is calling you!’ And from then on, there is no stopping him. He threw off his cloak, jumped up and went to Jesus. And, we all know how the story ends.” On September 29, 2020 Diane continued her life-long response to God’s call, threw off the cloak of this life and jumped into eternal life. As we, her Sisters, family and friends celebrate the gift she has been to each of us, we give thanks for all the ways Diane made God’s goodness known to us. We ask her continued prayers that we may grow in faith and courage as she did.
- Born July 24, 1932 in Columbus, Ohio
- Parents: William Garold Reed (born in Ohio) and Mary Mildred Mahaffey (born in Ohio)
- Sibling: Richard Reed
- Baptized on August 14, 1932 at St. Aloysius Church, Columbus, Ohio
- Entered September 8, 1950 at Mt. Notre Dame
- First Profession: March 28, 1953
- Final Profession: August 13, 1958
- St. Aloysius Parish School, Columbus, Ohio, 1946
- St. Joseph Academy, Columbus, Ohio, 1950
- Bachelor of Science in Education from Ohio Dominican College, Columbus, Ohio, 1961
- Master of Arts in Religious Studies from Mundelein College, Chicago, Illinois, 1976
- 1953-1954 St. Alexander Parish School, Villa Park, Illinois
- 1954-1955 St. George Parish School, Cincinnati, Ohio
- 1955-1957 St. Richard of Chichester Parish School, Cincinnati, Ohio
- 1957-1961 St. Aloysius Parish School, Columbus, Ohio
- 1961-1962 St. Paul Parish School, Westerville, Ohio
- 1962-1964 Sts. Peter and Paul Parish School, Reading, Ohio
- 1964-1967 St. Peter Canisius Parish School, Chicago, Illinois
- 1967-1968 St. Alexander Parish School, Villa Park, Illinois
- 1968-1969 St. Agnes Parish School, Dayton, Ohio
- 1970-1972 St. Christopher Parish School, Columbus, Ohio
- 1972-1973 St. Aloysius Parish School, Columbus, Ohio
- 1973-1976 Religious Education Coordinator, St. Catherine Parish, Columbus, Ohio
- 1976-1982 St. George Parish School/Corryville Catholic, Cincinnati, Ohio
- 1982-1983 Sales Rep for Religious Education Materials, Treehouse Publications, Loveland, Ohio
- 1983-1989 Parish Ministry, Holy Name Parish, Cincinnati, Ohio
- 1989-1990 St. John the Baptist, Parish School, Dry Ridge, Cincinnati, Ohio
- 1990-2001 St. Clement School, St. Bernard, Ohio
- 2001-2003 Volunteer, St. James of the Valley/Holy Trinity/Sts. Peter and Paul Parishes, Cincinnati, Ohio
- 2003-2020: Volunteer work & ministry of prayer, Cincinnati, Ohio
- 2020: Ministry of Prayer and Presence, Mt. Notre Dame Health Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
Died September 29, 2020 at Mt. Notre Dame Health Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
Sr. Kim Dalgarn SNDdeN
October 2, 2020