Kathleen Doherty, BVM died Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017, at Caritas Center in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017, in the Marian Hall Chapel followed by a prayer service at 11 a.m. Funeral liturgy will be at 1:30 p.m. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.
She was born in Waterloo, Iowa, on Aug. 24, 1922, to Patrick B. and Mary Salz Doherty. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1945, from St. Joseph Parish, Waterloo. She professed first vows on March 19, 1948, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1953.
Sister Kathleen was an elementary and secondary school teacher in Sioux City, Iowa; Hempstead, N.Y.; and Chicago, where she also served as parish secretary and adult education teacher; and as alumnae association coordinator/treasurer.
She is preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by cousins and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with whom she shared life for 71 years.
Sister Kathleen Doherty, BVM (Patrick Louis)
Marian Hall Chapel, Feb. 14, 2017
Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of the life of our Sister, Kathleen Doherty. We welcome her friends, former students and, especially, members of the St. Mary HS Alumnae Association. We also welcome all BVMs and associates viewing this service on closed circuit TV or through video streaming.
Kathleen Rita Doherty entered this world on Aug. 24, 1922, as the only child of Patrick Brown and Mary Salz Doherty of Waterloo, Iowa. Her father emigrated from Ireland and worked as a janitor. Her mother was of German and Polish descent.
Kathleen graduated from Our Lady of Victory Academy in Waterloo and attended Clarke University for two years. She worked as a senior clerk for Metropolitan Life Insurance for four years before joining the community.
She entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1945, following in the footsteps of her grandaunt Sister Mary Laurina Burchinsky, BVM, her aunt Sister Mary Rembert Salz, BVM, and a cousin, Sister Mary Letice Striegel, BVM. Kathleen received the name Patrick Louis upon her reception on March 19, 1946, professed first vows on March 19, 1948, and lived 71 years as a BVM.
Kathleen taught in both elementary and secondary schools for 28 years with missions at St. Jerome, St. Mary HS, and Holy Family in Chicago; Our Lady of Loretto in Hempstead, N.Y.; and Cathedral in Sioux City, Iowa. As an educator, Kathleen first taught business courses and later taught English.
After St. Mary HS transitioned into the St. Mary Center for Learning, Kathleen gracefully transformed her traditional English course into one of the first high school film study programs in the country. Her program attracted the interest of film industry celebrities such as actor/director Leonard Nimoy and director/producer Frank Capra. Students and faculty alike respected and loved Kathleen for her experience, wisdom and kindness.
For 17 years, Kathleen worked with economically and educationally disadvantaged adults. Her ministry began in the role of parish secretary and adult education instructor at the Holy Family Community Center in Chicago. The Jesuits who ran the center and the parishioners loved her, and the feeling was mutual. “I have received much more than I have given,” wrote Kathleen. “[My] years at Holy Family have deepened my faith and sharpened my awareness of the strength and wisdom that comes to suffering people.”
When the Westside Employment Education Center (WEEC) opened at the Holy Family site, Kathleen was the business department—teaching typing, business English, phone etiquette, and other related courses. She later served on the organization’s board of directors. “Unemployment is still the number one problem for minorities in Chicago, especially women,” she wrote. “The women coming to class now are slightly older, their children are in school, and they can begin to arrange their lives and look for relief from the stranglehold of welfare.” Kathleen worked diligently to build the women’s self-esteem and encouraged them to reach their greatest potential.
For two years after retiring to Wright Hall in Chicago, Kathleen chauffeured other residents, played piano for worship services, and enjoyed painting classes with Sister Eustella Fau, BVM. Several of Kathleen’s paintings now hang here at Mount Carmel. While at Wright Hall, there came the invitation to serve as the coordinator and treasurer of the newly revived St. Mary Alumnae Association. Kathleen really was the perfect choice for this task. In her own words, “the enormous responsibility [of this position was] eased by the generosity of alumnae, my own memories of my faculty time, and the appreciation alums have for the mentoring, education and friendships formed during their years at St. Mary.”
Often working late into the night from her basement office at Wright Hall, she made condolence calls after the death of a graduate or a graduate’s family member, published newsletters, and organized numerous luncheon reunions, memorial liturgies, and fundraisers. The St. Mary Alumnae Association raised over a million dollars for the Sisters of Charity, BVM during her 18 years of devoted leadership.
Every morning, Kathleen awoke, put on her delightful smile and, along with it, the compassion, kindness, gentleness and love of which St. Paul writes to the Colossians. She gave her all to whatever task was at hand. When she wrote the Region 10 newsletter, she called everyone in the region and expected to receive information. Her magnetic personality drew people into responding positively whether they wanted to or not. Yet, she knew she could not do it alone and was truly grateful for everyone with whom she worked. Her love of words made her a great communicator, but she also was an excellent photographer, pianist and artist. In addition, she loved to sing, especially those Irish songs at her great St. Patrick’s Day parties.
After her mother died in 1991, Kathleen discovered a collection of prayers, fragile and worn thin over time. The frailest one was “A Favorite Prayer of Mother Mary Francis [sic] Clarke.” As part of her 200th birthday gift to Mary Frances Clarke, she wrote, “What a surprise! My own mother had chosen a favorite prayer of my spiritual mother to be her favorite! I want [Mary Frances Clarke] to know that I have adopted her ‘favorite prayer’ as my own mother did.”
With words from that prayer, we now bid farewell to our sister and friend. “Jesus Christ crucified, Son of the most holy Virgin Mary, open your Sacred Heart, that seat of love and mercy, and receive [Kathleen] into it; make [her] wholly yours.” Amen.
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