Elaine Wojcik, BVM (St. Lillian) died Wednesday, March 15, 2017, at Caritas Center in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9:30–10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 22, 2017, followed by sharing of memories and funeral liturgy at 10:30 a.m. in the Marian Hall Chapel. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.
She was born in Chicago on Feb. 14, 1928, to Stanley and Lillian Luczak Wojcik. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1950, from St. Mark Parish, Chicago. She professed first vows on March 19, 1953, and final vows on July 16, 1958.
Sister Elaine was an elementary and middle school teacher in Mason City, Iowa; Chicago, River Forest, and North Riverside, Ill.; and Kansas City, Mo., where she also served as principal. She was a substitute teacher and nursing home/hospice volunteer in Melrose Park, Ill.
She was preceded in death by her parents and sisters: Dolores Frano, Adeline Salvinolo, and Patricia Lo Presto. She is survived by nieces, nephews, and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 66 years.
Sister Elaine Wojcik, BVM (St. Lillian)
Marian Hall, March 22, 2017
Good morning and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Elaine Wojcik.
Elaine Wojcik entered this world on St. Valentine’s Day in 1928 as the second of four daughters born to Stanley and Lillian (Luczak) Wojcik of Chicago. She joined her sister Dolores and was followed by Adeline and Patricia. Elaine described her father, who worked as a die caster, as a “sweet, gentle, loving man” and her mother as a strong, independent woman.
Elaine attended Our Lady of the Angels ES and Cathedral HS and worked four years after graduation as a statistician at Montgomery Ward. Growing up during the Depression created a certain asceticism within Elaine. She learned not to waste, disliked what she viewed as extravagance, and appreciated what she had. Her two prized possessions were a ring she received from her mother as a birthday gift and a cross from her sister Patsy.
On her application for admission, Elaine wrote, “The idea of entering the convent . . . has been with me for three years and the only way I can see whether or not this is my vocation is by giving the life a fair trial.” She entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1950. According to a member of her set, when the other postulants saw her blond hair and beautiful tan, some commented, “She’ll never make it.” Yet “make it” she did. Upon her reception on March 19, 1951, Elaine received the name St. Lillian in honor of her mother. She professed first vows on March 19, 1953, and gave her vocation a “fair trial,” living 66 years as a BVM. During these years, the bonds formed in the novitiate among her set members remained strong, and nurtured by their frequent gatherings, deepened.
Elaine focused on intermediate language arts during her 38 years in education. She taught at Annunciation and Our Lady of Angels in Chicago, St. Vincent Ferrer in River Forest, and Mater Christi in North Riverside, all in Illinois; Holy Family in Mason City, Iowa; and St. Aloysius, St. Therese, and Holy Trinity in Kansas City, Mo. She also served as principal at St. Francis Xavier in Kansas City.
Her favorite mission was St. Therese, which, in her words, was “an excellent school.” She recalled that when the primary teachers were to implement a so-called “British Primary Program,” she teased that she could start a Polish Intermediate. Yes, she was very proud of her Polish heritage.
Elaine began every class with a short prayer. “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do all in the name of Christ Jesus.” She was an excellent teacher who creatively encouraged her students to do their best. Her friendly spirit and lightheartedness endeared her to her students and kept them engaged. A former student from St. Vincent Ferrer wrote, “Sister, you were always most kind to me . . . Academia was not as important to me as feelings and respect . . . There were moments when the serenity of your class was a tremendous blessing to me. You seemed to inherently understand things that I was yet unable and unwilling to articulate . . . You engendered an already burgeoning love of books and literature, which I have passed down to [my children] . . . Know that you are prayed for and remembered with a grateful and loving heart.”
Elaine was very devoted to her family. For years, the family played poker together every Friday night. A special relationship with her father deepened as they watched countless hours of football together. After his death, she moved into an apartment above her mother’s home in Melrose Park, Ill., and for many years, cared for her mother who was legally blind. After retirement from full-time teaching, she continued to work as a substitute teacher. She also volunteered in nursing homes and for hospice. After moving to Dubuque in 1995, she frequently spent her days visiting the sisters at Mount Carmel.
Elaine was a caring and compassionate woman with an outgoing, fun-loving spirit. She was true to her word and followed through on everything she promised or planned. While she enjoyed reading, basking in the sun, and playing computer games—especially Wii bowling—her favorite activity was watching football, basketball and baseball. As a native Chicagoan, she loved the Bears, the Bulls, and of course, the Cubs. She was elated to see them win the 2016 World Series.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus speaks of the many dwellings in his Father’s house and of going to prepare a place for us. “I will come back again and take you to myself,” he promises. Reflecting upon her golden jubilee in 2000, Elaine wrote, “My retirement [is] filled with . . . enjoying these wonderful years I’ve been given to live and be.” Recently, however, life was becoming more difficult as her physical health declined. Then suddenly last week, Jesus came with wonderful news—her room was ready! As we fondly remember our dear sister, set member, and friend, we celebrate and rejoice with Elaine who now dwells in her heavenly home with the Lord.