Sister Mary Carolina Hess SNDdeN
August 9, 1930 – July 4, 2023
“I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts;
I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
Four values were strong in the family that birthed and shaped Sister Lina Hess: education, creativity, faith and family. Both of her parents were educators. She described her father as “… the son of a blacksmith and the first person in his family to get a college degree. He majored in German and became Chairman of the German Department at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio in 1927.” Lina was proud of her mother who taught in the Philosophy Department at Ohio University. Her mother was also a model of creativity. Lina would describe the joy she took in her greatest achievement: compiling the 162 articles and 146 poems that my mother wrote and preparing an annotated bibliography of them as part of her work for a MLS degree. Lina herself would earn her first degree in 1951 and spend a total of 32 years in education.
Like her mother, Lina’s creativity flowed through her writing. Her first published work was in the September 1936 issue of Child Life magazine: two poems and her picture. Lina would go on to have articles published in America, Catholic Library World, Friends Journal, Insect World Digest magazines and the Columbus Sunday Dispatch and Catholic Times newspapers. In addition, what Lina called “fillers and verse” would be published in Catholic Digest, Reader’s Digest, Education Digest, Columbus Citizen-Journal, Good Housekeeping, Upper Room, St. Anthony Messenger, and Farm Journal.
Religion, in the Hess family, was a journey. Lina’s father was Methodist, and it would be her mother who would first enter the Catholic Church. Her mother’s faith journey was rooted in love for her children. Lina’s brothers were 11 and 8 years older than she was, the perfect age to be drafted during World War II, and both of them would serve in the Navy. Mrs. Hess worried for her sons and was touched by Our Lady as a role model for loving her sons. Lina assumed she would come into the Church with her mother, but the priest instructing her mother told her it didn’t quite work that way. She was impressed by how much comfort and joy her mother found in Catholicism. Lina came into the Church two years later. Her father came into the Church 11 years later. Lina would write, “I’ve hoped in and known God’s goodness throughout my life, but one moment in particular always stands out for me. It was when my father told me he was converting to Catholicism.” The reason behind his decision touched Lina deeply. It was her happiness in her vocation as a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur.
Lina first met the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in Athens where Sisters would come from the Logan Community to teach catechism on Sundays. She was impressed with the simplicity of the Sisters. Lina attended college with the Dominican Sisters in Columbus, but when she decided to enter a religious community, it was to the Sisters of Notre Dame she went. Her entrance application has lots of blank spaces. Lina simply wrote: “These questions I hope to find answers to in the Convent.” God gave her enough answers that she stayed to find more. For Lina, religious life proved to be the best path to grow closer and closer to God. She was given the name Sister Margaret Ann as a novice, and would be known as such until she reverted to her baptismal name in 1969. With the other novices, Lina prepared to teach. She served as teacher and/or librarian at Notre Dame schools in Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton and Hamilton, Ohio. Lina’s last ministry in secondary education was as a librarian at De Sales High School in Columbus.
The second era of Lina’s ministerial life was more varied. She would minister as care-giver, advocate, editor, staff writer, proof reader, ESL conversation partner, outreach to elders, and simply through her prayer and presence. More often than not, Lina was reaching out to more than one need at a time. Her gifts helped the Catholic Conference of Ohio, the Diocese of Columbus, Grant Medical Center, Columbus State Community College and residents of Nazareth Towers, Columbus, Ohio. Proofreading publications for the Ohio Unit of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur was another valued way Lina shared her gifts.
Family was a strong part of Lina’s life. Even though they were not often in the same city, or state, Lina stayed close to her brothers and their families. She was able to visit her parents often in their later years. Lina returned to Athens for three years to care for her mother before moving her mother to Columbus where she continued to oversee her care. She also oversaw the care of her brother, Harry, helping him transition to a nursing home and visiting him daily until his death. Lina was very fond of her nephew and nieces, and their children. She readily shared pictures and stories about all of them with her community members. Staying in touch with the younger generations motivated Lina to learn computer and become email proficient. She described internet connects as “made in heaven” and was grateful for the tool it proved to be in maintaining one on one relationships with her nieces and nephews. Lina received a special gift from her family for her 80th birthday: a scrapbook of her life and family. This treasured gift, created by her niece, enabled Lina to share her story and stories of her precious family with many visitors. Visits of her family members to Mt. Notre Dame were treasured by Lina and her community welcomed their loving presence among us.
Lina’s second “family” was her religious community. Most of her religious life was spent in large communities where she got to know many Sisters. Lina took a genuine interest in each of them, often recording interesting facts, events and stories about her Sisters in her daily journal. Later she’d recall and retell the stories and accomplishments. Lina’s delightful sense of humor and contagious laugh added to community life, as did her interest in each person and her curiosity about the world. She loved good conversation, listening to classical music and spending time in the garden. Spring and autumn were both favorite seasons because Lina loved the changing colors. She shared her writing skills with the community. At Rich Street, a labyrinth of a house, she created an A-Z dictionary that captured many trivia details, including how the Walnut Room got its name when there was nothing “walnut” about it. Lina gathered with other Sisters to study Spanish for as long as possible. When it was no longer possible for her to do little things for the community, she prayed for each and every one in it. Just as she shared her family with the community, she shared stories about the Sisters with her family.
Now Lina’s Sisters, family members and friends come together to celebrate her wonderful life. We share stories of all the ways she made God’s goodness known as a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur. Lina was asked once what she thought of her life. She replied, “It’s been such a big blessing.” We count on Lina’s prayers for each of us to bring us blessings as she enjoys the blessing of eternal life with her good God.
- Born August 9, 1930 in Athens, Ohio
- Parents: John Hess (born in Perry, Illinois) and Mary Whitcomb (born in Hayden, Indiana)
- Siblings: John Hess, Harry Hess
- Baptized on March 27, 1944 at St. Paul Church, Athens, Ohio
- Confirmed on May 9, 1944 at St. Paul Church, Athens, Ohio
- Entered September 7, 1951 at Mt. Notre Dame
- First Profession: August 13, 1954
- Final Profession: August 13, 1959
- Athens High School, Athens, Ohio
- Bachelor of Arts in English from St. Mary of the Springs, Columbus, Ohio, 1951
- Master of Arts in English from the University of Detroit, Michigan, 1965
- Master in Library Science from Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, 1973
- 1954-1955 Julienne High School, Dayton, Ohio
- 1955-1956 Notre Dame High School, Hamilton, Ohio
- 1956-1958 Summit Country Day School, Cincinnati, Ohio
- 1958-1963 St. Joseph Academy, Columbus, Ohio
- 1963-1970 Julienne High School, Dayton, Ohio
- 1970-1976 St. Joseph Academy, Columbus, Ohio
- 1976-1977 Communications, Public Relations, Catholic Conference of Ohio, Columbus, Ohio
- 1977-1980 Care of Mother, Athens, Ohio
- 1980-1981 Secretary, Montessori Center, Columbus, Ohio
- 1981-1983 Media Director, Notre Dame Elementary School, Columbus, Ohio
- 1983-1986 Library Media Specialist, St. Joseph Montessori School, Columbus, Ohio
- 1986-1991 Librarian, DeSales High School, Columbus, Ohio
- 1991-1993 Sales secretary, Diocesan Publications, Diocese of Columbus, Columbus, Ohio
- 1993-1996 Staff writer, The Catholic Times, Columbus, Ohio
- 1996-1996 Volunteer receptionist, Grant Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio
- 1996-2001 Proofreader, Ohio Unit Publications, Columbus, Ohio
- 1998-2001 ESL conversation partner, Columbus State Community College, Columbus, Ohio
- 2002-2010 Community Service, Mt. Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio
- 2010- 2023: Ministry of Prayer, Mt. Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio
Died: July 4, 2023 at Mt. Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio
Sister Kim Dalgarn, SNDdeN
July 5, 2023