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Obituaries

Helen Kerrigan, BVM (Paulita)

Helen Kerrigan, BVM (Paulita) died Thursday, Nov. 16,2017, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–10:15 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017, in the Marian Hall Chapel. A Sharing of Memories and funeral liturgy will immediately follow. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.

She was born in Davenport, Iowa, on March 19, 1921, to Joseph Patrick and Essie Stella Augustine Kerrigan. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1940, from Cathedral Parish, Davenport. She professed first vows on March 19, 1943, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1948.

Sister Helen taught elementary school in Hempstead, N.Y., and Chicago, where she later taught art at Mundelein College. She taught secondary school music and art in Dubuque, Davenport and Marcus, Iowa, and San Francisco and St. Louis. At Clarke University in Dubuque, she was art teacher, department chair, and adjunct professor/artist in residence.

She was preceded in death by her parents; and sisters: Phyllis Kerrigan, BVM (Phileta), Lois Kerrigan, and Alice Kerrigan, BVM (Lois Ann). She is survived by a cousin, Jane Vorhes, West Des Moines, Iowa; and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 77 years.

If you would like to give a memorial in honor of this Sister click here.


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Mary Kay Dum, BVM (Meda)

Mary Kay Dum, BVM (Meda) died Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–10:15 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, in the Marian Hall Chapel. A Sharing of Memories and funeral liturgy will immediately follow. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.

She was born in Tulsa, Okla., on July 12, 1933, to William H. and Mary Mead Langton. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1951, from Holy Family Parish, Tulsa. She professed first vows on March 19, 1954, and final vows on July 16, 1959.

Sister Mary Kay taught elementary school in Chicago; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Tempe, Ariz.; Carlsbad, Calif.; and Washington, Iowa. She was preschool director in Phoenix; and Montessori teacher in Carlsbad, Oceanside and San Luis Rey, Calif., where she was also Montessori director. She ministered in migrant Headstart Programs in Orlando and West Palm Beach, Fla.; Durham, N.C.; and Granada Hills, San Marcos and Carlsbad, Calif. She served as BVM Western Regional and later as Montessori school volunteer.

She was preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by a sister Elizabeth (Ned) Kennington, Durham, N.C.; brothers William, Jr. (Nola) Dum, San Antonio; and Michael Dum, Dallas; an aunt, Jeanette Langton, Enid, Okla.; nieces; a nephew; and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 66 years.

Mary Kay Dum, BVM (Meda)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, Nov. 16, 2017

Good morning and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Mary Kay Dum.

Mary Katherine Dum was born on July 12, 1933, in Tulsa, Okla., the first child of William and Mary Mead Langton Dum. Siblings William, Michael and Elizabeth (Betsy) followed. “My brave young parents began their family during the Depression,” she wrote. “We lived a block from Holy Family Cathedral in Tulsa and our lives centered around the church and school. Our maternal grandmother lived outside Tulsa on a few acres . . . and we loved to spend weekends and summers with her. We rode our bikes, climbed trees, and listened to stories of her childhood in Garryowen, Iowa. Never did she mention her Dust Bowl years in Oklahoma. We heard the happy stories of life on the Iowa prairie.

After her high school graduation, Mary Kay surprised everyone by announcing she wanted to be a sister like the ones her grandmother had known. “The prairie life appealed to me,” she wrote. “Real mission work.” Two of Mary Kay’s great-grand aunts and eight cousins were BVMs, including Cecilia Dougherty and Helen C. Flynn, who transferred into the community in 1973 and died in 2009.

Mary Kay entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1951, and received the name Meda upon her reception on March 19, 1952. She professed first vows on March 19, 1954, and lived 66 years as a BVM. Reflecting on her golden jubilee, she wrote, “For those of us who have experienced a life of consecrated celibacy lived in community and mission, this particular experience that is religious life is a treasure . . . worth everything, even life itself . . . . We learned that living this life brought blessings and that sharing the blessings brought immeasurable joy.”

In the Gospel, Jesus tells us, “Whoever welcomes a child . . . for my sake welcomes me.” Mary Kay welcomed and educated children for over 40 years. Her first mission was St. Gertrude in Chicago. Two years later, she and two other BVMs opened St. Charles Borromeo in Oklahoma City. Bringing BVM education and traditions to her home state was one of Mary Kay’s happiest moments. Missions at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Tempe, Ariz.; St. Patrick in Carlsbad, Calif., which she helped to open as well; and St. James in Washington, Iowa; followed. After 15 years as a primary teacher, she recognized the need for parental involvement in the education of young children. She was greatly impressed with Montessori schools and their belief that children have a natural curiosity and an eagerness to learn. “If we can help them learn how to learn,” she pointed out, “they will be self-educating for the rest of their lives.”

After completing additional studies and an internship, Mary Kay launched her first school in 1970, Barrio Montessori, at Sacred Heart Parish in Phoenix. After Sacred Heart School closed, Barrio merged with South Phoenix Montessori. Mary Kay taught at Casa Montessori School in Carlsbad, Calif., before establishing the Old Mission Montessori in San Luis Rey, Calif., in 1976, where she served as the principal and director for 10 years. Old Mission closed in 2016 after 40 years in operation.

After an enjoyable sabbatical with NETWORK in Washington, D.C., Mary Kay found a new calling in migrant education. As the program developer of the East Coast Migrant Head Start Project, she traveled up and down the coast to provide training and technical assistance for Head Start programs.

She was in South Carolina in 1989 when hurricane Hugo devastated John’s Island, damaging one of her sites and the temporary housing of migrant families. In a letter of gratitude for the generous disaster relief sent by the BVM community, Mary Kay wrote, “On behalf of the migrant families and residents of John’s Island, I thank you with all my heart. The residents . . . though financially poor, have homes and a heritage they prize. The migrants are forced into marginal lifestyles cut off from political, economic and social assistance. They are doubly grateful for your help and they echo the words of one of my colleagues, ‘your order really takes being Sisters of Charity seriously!’”

Eventually Mary Kay returned to California to work with the Migrant Head Start Program in San Diego County, including a short time as regional manager. She served the congregation on the Western Regional Team. Known for the low-key manner in which she handled problems, it has been said that she was “completely, absolutely fantastic” as a Regional. After completing two terms, she returned to the Old Mission Montessori on a part-time basis.

In 1993, as a member of the board of directors of the National Farm Workers Ministry (NFWM), she was among the estimated 35,000 people who attended the funeral of Cesar Chavez. Along with several thousand people, she walked the three miles from the gathering place to the United Farm Workers’ (UFW) compound. “The Mass was broadcast to the field and the feeling turned to a joyous celebration of Cesar’s life,” she wrote. “He was praised as a leader, a humble man, a prophet . . . I was privileged to represent the BVMs in a touching moment of history.”

Mary Kay moved to Dubuque in 2007 and spent her time volunteering at Mount Carmel and driving sisters on shopping trips. She later served on the National Election Board and the Shareholder Education and Advocacy Group (SEA). Reflecting on her move, she wrote, “When the time came to return to Dubuque, I felt I brought ‘the West’ with me. I’m not saying that the move was without trauma. As the months roll[ed] on, an awareness [was] growing within me that now we are forming a greater unity. Our connections are expanding. . . . We bring the gift of the West into the sacred circle of BVM life today. Dag Hammarskjöld said, and I agree, ‘For all that has been, thanks. For all that will be, Yes!’”

Mary Kay had a wonderful sense of humor and truly enjoyed life. She was honest, caring and hospitable. The door of her aunt’s mobile home in Carlsbad was always open for sisters to stay and enjoy the beach. She enjoyed community gatherings and was very knowledgeable and articulate on community issues. As an enterprising person, she took great ideas and enthusiastically pursued them to fruition, deeply affecting lives and making friends wherever she went.

In her final wishes, she wrote, “Emphasize my gratitude for the love surrounding me all my life—love of God, of family, of friends. I have been blessed with great family and friends and wonderful experiences. Every day I enjoy[ed] my lifelong quest to find God in everything, the good and the bad . . . I have been loved by many good people and I am very grateful.”

Yes, Mary Kay, you were well loved and you loved well. You will always remain in our hearts.

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Mary Ellen Caldwell, BVM (Eugenio)

Mary Ellen Caldwell, BVM (Eugenio) died Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 28, 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 Milwaukee on June 11, 1920, to Francis S. and Helen Fitzsimmons Caldwell. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1938, from St. Michael Parish, Milwaukee. She professed first vows on March 19, 1941, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1946.

Sister Mary Ellen taught elementary school in DeKalb and Chicago, Ill.; and Wichita, Kan. She was elementary school principal in Dubuque, where she also served as theology, religious studies, and philosophy teacher and department chair at Clarke University. She taught at a seminary in Kumasi, Ghana, and later volunteered as ESL teacher.

She was preceded in death by her parents; a brother, James Joseph Caldwell; and sisters: Mary Remi Caldwell, BVM; Sarah Marie Tyson; and Frances Mary Kilcollins. She is survived by a sister, Helen Smith, Waukesha, Wis.; brothers, Rev. Thomas A. Caldwell, SJ, Wauwatosa, Wis.; and Joseph Kerwin Caldwell, New York, N.Y.; nieces; nephews; and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 78 years.

Sister Mary Ellen Caldwell, BVM (Eugenio)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, Aug. 28, 2017

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Mary Ellen Caldwell.

Mary Ellen Caldwell entered this world on June 11, 1920, as the eldest of eight children born to Francis and Hellen Fitzsimmons Caldwell of Milwaukee. Her siblings James Joseph, Rose, Helen Margaret, Thomas, Sarah Marie, Joseph Kerwin, and Frances Mary completed the family.

Mary Ellen loved music, especially opera and the classics. For many years, she held season tickets to the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra. She often told the story that in high school, she and her friends would go to the public library, check out operatic music scores and then gather around a piano and sing all the parts. After they saved enough money, they would attend a performance, sitting in the high balcony. Even in her later years, she could still sing the music. Later, while missioned at Mount Carmel Academy in Wichita, Kan., she asked Sister Grace Andrea Carolan, the voice teacher, to join her in the making of a record for her family, which was very popular at that time. She would often quip, “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.”

Mary Ellen graduated from Holy Angels Academy in Milwaukee and entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1938. She received the name Eugenio upon her reception on March 19, 1939, professed her first vows on March 19, 1941, and lived 78 years as a BVM. Her sister Rose entered the congregation in 1941 and received the name Mary Remi. She died on Feb. 21, 2008.

Mary Ellen began her teaching career in the elementary grades. She was missioned at St. Mary in DeKalb, Ill.; St. Vincent in Chicago; Mount Carmel in Wichita, Kan.; and St. Patrick in Dubuque, Iowa, where she also served as superior and principal. However, she will be remembered best for her 25 years in the religious studies department at Clarke University, including 11 years as the department chair. In May 1984, she returned to Dubuque after a year of study in Cambridge, Mass., to discover that she had lost everything in her office and bedroom in the Clarke fire. Through exchange programs, Mary Ellen taught courses at Mundelein College in Chicago, as well as at Loras College, University of Dubuque, and Aquinas Institute of Theology, all in Dubuque. She also facilitated scripture study groups for adults.

As a teacher, Mary Ellen touched lives on three continents. In 1983, she traveled abroad to teach Scripture classes at a secondary school for girls in Matunda, Kenya, as a third world experience. From 1990 to 1992, she taught religion at the St. Hubert Seminary in Kumasi, Ghana, West Africa. “This [experience] has been a time of special grace for me, and I am most grateful for it,” she wrote. “The balance of prayer and community and ministry has brought deep peace. The experience of people with so many dire needs leads me to wonder that I have been so blessed and to want the liberating word of God for all.” In 1993, she embraced the opportunity to teach English as a second language in Hungary. “I worked with women religious whose energies had been engaged in keeping their religious life secret; now they were engaged in learning to live it openly.”

In August 1973, Mary Ellen, Carol Frances Jegen, BVM and Betty Pleas, BVM, along with many priests and other religious, answered the call of Cesar Chavez, co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union, to picket California growers. They were arrested and held in a detention center for two weeks, refusing to accept release until the arrested farm workers were also released.

Mary Ellen commented, “I used to think of the law and justice going together, hand-in-hand. Then I realized that for many people they don’t go together . . . I felt really, utterly helpless. I was not frightened, but I was absolutely incredulous . . . I was angry about the treatments given to hardworking farm workers; they didn’t deserve to be treated as criminals. It was an honor to be with them and special privilege to spend time with Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, who came to California to join us.” Mary Ellen always remembered what Chavez said at a Mass on the night of their release. “We really are not free, just out of jail.”

The approval of the revised BVM Constitutions on Feb. 2, 1989, was a joyous moment for Mary Ellen. She served 13 years on the Constitutions Committee, including one year as the full-time chair, and traveled to Rome for the approbation of the revision. “When Helen Garvey and her Council went to Rome for approval of the document, they didn’t have to take me, but I loved being in Rome again and participating in the dialogue at the Vatican.”

A note from a BVM sister reads, “The committee deserves our gratitude and appreciation for their long years of work. I want to add my own personal note of appreciation for your contribution—your marvelous skill during the meetings and your courage in handling the situation. Your expertise, courage and spiritual depth added so much.”

In 1998, Mary Ellen moved to Mount Carmel, but did not slow down. She taught scripture classes at the Roberta Kuhn Center, privately tutored foreign students in English and, until recently, served as a lector at Mass. In 2005, she participated in the “Forum for Sisters,” an international dialogue among women religious held in Piliscaba, Hungary.

In the past two years, she helped two individuals with sacramental preparation. Via Skype, she instructed a father in Texas, enabling him to be baptized with his son at St. Raphael Cathedral in Dubuque, where he and his wife were married. Earlier this year, she prepared the grandson of a friend and former coworker to receive his first communion in Columbia in the presence of his extended family.

Mary Ellen may have been small in stature, but she had a brilliant mind, a great desire for knowledge, an adventurous spirit ready to face new challenges, and a listening heart—always sensitive to the hardships, hopes and desires of others. Her twinkling eyes and bright smile revealed a zest for life rooted in her deep trust in God. One of her favorite prayers was the Suscipe by St. Ignatius of Loyola. “Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my entire will . . . Give me only your love and your grace; that is enough for me.” Mary Ellen was blessed with many gifts, shared them generously, reaped a bountiful harvest, and returned all to the Lord. Finally, she returned “the very breath that sang [God’s] praise.”* Mary Ellen, we love you and miss you, yet our hearts are joyful knowing that you rest in the loving arms of God. It is enough.

*From “These Alone Are Enough” by Dan Schutte.

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Mary C. McGovern, BVM (Clemento)

Mary C. McGovern, BVM (Clemento) died Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, at Caritas Center in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–10:15 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, in the Marian Hall Chapel followed by a Sharing of Memories at 10:15 a.m. Funeral liturgy will immediately follow. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.

She was born in Dubuque, Iowa, on June 6, 1920, to Clement and Marjorie McComish McGovern. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1937, from Cathedral Parish, Dubuque. She professed first vows on March 19, 1940, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1945.

Sister Mary was a music teacher and principal in Dubuque, where she also ministered in the Instructional Resource Center at Clarke University and served as congregational volunteer at Mount Carmel. She taught elementary school music in Grayslake, Maywood and Chicago, Ill.; Casper, Wyo.; and Emmetsburg and Sioux City, Iowa.

She was preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by cousins and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 79 years.

Sister Mary C. McGovern, BVM (Clemento)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall Chapel, Aug. 22, 2017

Good morning and welcome to the celebration of the life of our Sister Mary C. McGovern.

Mary Lucille McGovern was born on June 6, 1920, in Dubuque, Iowa, the only child of Clement and Marjorie McComish McGovern. She grew up two blocks from St. Raphael Cathedral and was a proud member of the parish for many years. She graduated from the parish grade school and later St. Joseph Academy.

At a young age, she felt the call to religious life so that “I may love our Lord even more in gratitude for all that He has done for me.” She entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1937, received the name Clemento at her reception on March 19, 1938, and professed her first vows on March 19, 1940. Next month she would have marked her 80th year as a BVM.

Mary spent 30 years teaching music, often in combination with a grade classroom. She was missioned at The Immaculata and St. Jerome in Chicago, St. Gilbert in Grayslake, and St. Eulalia in Maywood, all in Illinois, and at St. Anthony in Casper, Wyo. In Iowa, she ministered at St. Ellen in Emmetsburg, St. Joseph in Sioux City, and St. Raphael Cathedral in Dubuque, where she also served as principal. Mary also worked 12 years in the Instructional Resource Center at Clarke University where her organizational skills were a great help to the students.

Mary was a good, conscientious teacher who loved her students and was attentive to their needs. At St. Raphael, a large number of students lived on the bluffs above the Cathedral and always walked to school. A former student recalled, “If we were sent home ill, she didn’t want us walking up the big hills. She would give us five cents to ride the Fenelon elevator.”

A Salt article about Mary begins “It’s the only child that feels the call to be near as her parents grow older.” Mary was sent to teach at St. Raphael in 1964 because her aging parents lived nearby. After her father shattered his knee in a fall at work, she gradually assumed more and more of the housework. When her father fell again in 1975, Mary moved in with her parents. She was very close to her father. His death a few weeks later was a tremendous loss.

Mary continued to care for her mother who was almost blind by that time. “Living with Mother, we had developed a closeness,” recalled Mary. “She was patient with me. One day she turned and said to me, ‘Honey, you try awfully hard, but you have a lot to learn.’” When her mother became ill in 1984, Mary reluctantly moved her mother to a nursing home. On the Saturday before Mother’s Day, she ate breakfast with her mother and gave her roses. Her mother died later that day, was buried on Tuesday, and the Clarke University fire occurred on Thursday. “I had lots of emotional trauma in the space of a few days,” recalled Mary. She was immensely grateful to the Clarke BVMs for their support during a most difficult time.

In today’s first reading, we hear “See what love God has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.” (1 John 3:1). Mary was a deeply loving person. She received everyone with a warm smile and a profound respect that honored all of God’s children. She was hospitable, friendly and ever sensitive to the needs of others. For many years, she unofficially served in parish ministry in the Cathedral neighborhood where she knew her parents’ neighbors and friends. After retiring in 1988, she volunteered at Marian Hall, taught classes at the Roberta Kuhn Center, and served as a communion minister at Manor Care Nursing Home.

Mary lived at Mount Carmel for 27 years and enjoyed being of service until her memory diminished. “[My] years at Mount Carmel have been the most healing and most peaceful of my religious life,” she wrote. “I truly live with joy and peace in the presence of the Lord. I am grateful to my God, my congregation, and all who have helped me on my journey.” Mary’s BVM sisters, along with her cousins, were treasured family members.

With her deep devotion to our Blessed Mother, it seems appropriate that Mary went home to God on the feast of the Assumption. With gratitude for the wonderful blessing Mary has been to us, we celebrate her entrance into eternal life. Rest in peace, beloved child of God.

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Mary Terese Rink, BVM (Lumina)

Mary Terese Rink, BVM (Lumina) died Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–10:15 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017, in the Marian Hall Chapel followed by a Sharing of Memories at 10:15 a.m. Funeral liturgy will immediately follow. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.

She was born in Des Moines, Iowa, on Feb. 20, 1929, to Raymond and Mary Hughes Rink. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1951, from St. Matthew Parish, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She professed first vows on March 19, 1954, and final vows on July 16, 1959.

Sister Terese was on the faculty at Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa, and taught postulants and novices at Mount Carmel. She taught secondary school in Memphis, Tenn.; Des Moines, Iowa; and Chicago. At the University of Illinois Medical Center, she served in clerical work, as coordinator for the Disabled Children’s Program, and as case manager.

She was preceded in death by her parents and brother Joseph. She is survived by sisters: Margery Petrzelka (Cedar Rapids); Helen (Bob) Mangrum (Broken Arrow, Okla.); and Katie (John) Cahalan (Austin, Texas); sister-in-law Barbara Rink (Arvada, Colo.); nieces; nephews; and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 65 years.

Sister Mary Terese Rink, BVM (Lumina)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, Aug. 18, 2017

Good morning and welcome to the celebration of life of our sister, Mary Terese Rink.

Terese was born on Feb. 20, 1929, in Des Moines. She was the eldest child of Raymond and Mary Hughes Rink, who met while attending the University of Iowa. Sisters Margery, Helen and Katie and a brother Joseph completed the family. Terese’s mother had a wonderful sense of humor and skillfully managed their home. Her father was a pharmacist who owned his own store and was always ready to help someone in need. Terese graduated from Mount Mercy Academy and Junior College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and earned a bachelor of arts degree in journalism with a minor in social science at the University of Iowa.

Even though Terese did not attend BVM schools, her siblings did and through them, she became acquainted with the BVMs. She entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1951, joining her cousin, Sister Mary Joel Kramer, who had entered in 1939. Terese received the name Sister Mary Lumina upon her reception on March 19, 1952, professed her first vows on March 19, 1954, and lived 65 years as a BVM.

Terese taught English and composition at St. Augustine HS in Memphis, Tenn.; English and journalism at St. Joseph Academy in Des Moines, Iowa; and English at Immaculata high school in Chicago. As a member of the faculty at Clarke University, she taught rhetoric and composition, literature and history to postulants and novices at Mount Carmel. After TOPA (Totally Open Placement Application) went into effect, Terese chose to teach in the Chicago public school system. She became well acquainted with the “unhealthier neighborhoods” in the town as she commuted to work on public transit. Still, Terese wrote, “TOPA . . . was one of the major influences in my life . . . Even if the neighborhoods lacked much, the people I met made up for this.”

For 24 years, Terese worked for the Division of Specialized Care for Children at the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago. She began with clerical responsibilities and eventually became a case manager for children with severe physical problems. “Here I truly met the People of God,” she wrote. “These were the poor, the marginalized, the overlooked and underestimated, Moslems, Jews, all Christian denominations, Hindus, atheists, and agnostics.” Terese served as the program coordinator from 1982 to 1990. Afterwards, she returned to case management, retiring 12 years later.

Quiet, gentle, sensitive and gracious—all describe Terese. Her subtle sense of humor was a delight and, at times, she could even be a bit of a tease. She was intelligent, curious and an avid reader. She enjoyed writing letters, having conversations with her BVM sisters, and especially walking. She combined her love of family and history to create an ancestral history book, a wonderful gift to her family for whom she was immensely grateful.

Terese was a behind-the-scenes person. She had strong opinions regarding politics and the community, but thought and spoke with a depth and a precision that did not draw attention to herself. Still, her hard work was noticed—being “lumina,” (a light) for young sisters on their first teaching assignments, sharing her journalistic talent in BVM publications, tutoring poor children at Wright Hall, sorting and folding clothing at the Dubuque Rescue Mission.

In the Gospel (John 14:1-6) chosen by Terese, Jesus says, “There are many rooms in my Father’s house . . . I am going now to prepare a place for you . . . [and] I shall return to take you with me.”

Terese lived in Chicago for 44 years, the last 26 years at Wright Hall until it closed in 2011. In a Salt article about the closing, she commented, “New surroundings do not automatically fit us. Often, it takes time and shifting: a little push here, a tug there. But eventually our bodies and spirits relax. We are home.” Last Sunday, Terese’s familiar surroundings no longer “fit.” Then Jesus came, her body relaxed and her spirit followed him home. Rest in peace, our dear loved one, sister and friend.

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Helen Maher Garvey, BVM (Robert Joseph)

Helen Maher Garvey, BVM (Robert Joseph) died Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in the Motherhouse 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 Hempstead, N.Y., on Jan. 17, 1935, to Clarence and Ruth Maher Garvey. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1952, from St. Martha Parish, Uniondale, N.Y. She professed first vows on March 19, 1955, and final vows on July 16, 1960.

From 1976–92, Sister Helen served on the BVM congregation’s leadership team. Also during that time, she was elected president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). She was organizational consultant and director of the Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America exhibit. She served on the board of the National Catholic Reporter. In earlier ministries, Sister Helen taught elementary school in Chicago and Antioch, Ill.; Fort Dodge, Iowa; and West Hempstead, N.Y. She was principal in Bellerose and Hempstead, N.Y. She served as director of pastoral services for the Diocese of Lexington, Ky. She ministered as facilitator for various religious communities and was active in many congregational committees.

She was preceded in death by her parents; brothers Thomas and Robert; and a sister, Eugenia Garvey, OSU. She is survived by brothers Joseph (Warwick, N.Y.) and Eugene (Tinton Falls, N.J.); sisters Therese Fox (Brecksville, Ohio) and Kathleen (James Kearnz) Garvey (Warwick, N.Y.); sister-in-law Pat Garvey, East Marion, N.Y.; nieces; nephews; and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 65 years.

Sister Helen Maher Garvey, BVM (Robert Joseph)
Funeral Welcome
Motherhouse, Aug. 17, 2017

The BVM community, those present here and those with us on livevideo streaming, welcome Helen’s family, Archbishop Jackels, members of religious congregations, representatives of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and the National Catholic Reporter (NCR)—friends all.

We gather at this liturgy to celebrate the life of Helen Maher Garvey and commend her to our loving God. For us, Helen was a mentor, a confidante, a companion, a leader, and a dearfriend.

Helen was born on Jan. 17, 1935, in Hempstead, N.Y., and she never completely lost her beloved New York accent. She was the sixth of eight children born to Clarence and Ruth Maher Garvey. Mary, who entered the Ursuline congregation, Thomas and Robert preceded her in death. Therese, Joseph, Eugene and Kathleen are with us today. In writing about her family, Helen expressed it this way: “I recognize a wholesome, large family atmosphere where I was loved. A religious tone permeated a lively existence.” Stories of family life that we heard earlier today bear this out.

Helen entered the BVM congregation in September 1952, and she was given the name Sister Mary Robert Joseph. After first vows in 1955, Helen ministered in elementary schools as a teacher and later a principal in the states of Illinois, Iowa and New York.

For 16 years, Helen served in leadership in the BVM congregation, as vice president and then president. Consultation, collaboration and consensus building characterized her leadership style. She did this with patience, optimism and a sense of humor. As we look back to those years, we know that Helen used her gifts to remind us of the beauty and goodness of religious life—as our way of being united with the Spirit andfacing the challenges and opportunities of our time. She shared her wisdom and her love.

Helen’s talents were recognized beyond the BVM community as she was elected to the presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. In this role, Helen welcomed Pope John Paul II when he visited the United States in 1987, and she boldly kissed him as sign of her love for the church.

Helen received the Outstanding Leadership Award from LCWR in 2009. The citation included these words: A woman who knows who she is, where she stands, and what she believes.

Article 82 of the BVM Constitutions states: “Our elected leaders bear a special responsibility to facilitate, encourage and inspire Gospel living within the congregation, and to extend our BVM presence and voice into the broader church and civic community.” Helen lived this role as many religious congregations called on her for guidance and assistance. In striving to deepen the sense of church for all members, Helen worked as Director of Pastoral Services in Lexington, Ky., and as a board member for the National Catholic Reporter (NCR).

Helen loved literature, history, politics and stories. We shared many of our favorites this morning and over the dinner table today. Some we hold deep in our hearts. Helen was responsible for telling the nation the story of women religious as she chaired the LCWR project producing the exhibit, “Women and Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America.”

At one of the planning meetings, the group became discouraged and Helen declared that they could not continue the project; it was too difficult. A consultant assisting the group heard this and said: “Why are you afraid of a little exhibit when your foremothers, with little or no money, crossed the ocean, navigated rivers, learned a new language, nursed in the Civil War, raised money and built schools and hospitals?” Upon hearing this, Helen gathered her courage and determination and said, “Yes, we will do this.” The exhibit, telling a remarkable story, went forth and was splendidly received.

Recently Helen had a conversation with a friend, reminiscing about many stories. Helen repeated the quote, “God lurks in our stories.” (Lurk: to be hidden but capable of being discovered.) God lurked and was ever present in Helen’s life, in her leadership and her love for family, community, friends and us. In her kindness and her writings, she led us to know the loving God who is always present with us and among us. We are grateful for her life with us and commend her to a loving God.

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Patricia Ann Perko, BVM (Vincent de Paul)

Patricia Ann Perko, BVM (Vincent de Paul) died Wednesday, July 12, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation of the cremated remains will be from 9–10:15 a.m. on Tuesday, July 25, in the Marian Hall Chapel followed by a Sharing of Memories at 10:15 a.m. Funeral liturgy will immediately follow. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.

She was born in Butte, Mont., on Sept. 11, 1934, to Michael F. and Rose Evelyn Cunningham Perko. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1954, from St. Joseph Parish, Butte. She professed first vows on March 19, 1957, and final vows on July 16, 1962.

Sister Pat taught elementary school in Missoula, Mont.; Omaha, Neb.; Seattle; and San Francisco. She was learning center teacher in Seattle and N. Hollywood, Calif., where she was also learning center director. She served as school secretary and learning center coordinator in Butte, where she also ministered as nurse aide and in home health care. She was coordinator of religious education in San Francisco.

She was preceded in death by her parents and sister Mary Dresden. She is survived by her brother Michael (Elaine) Perko, Tucson, Ariz.; nieces; nephews; and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 62 years.

Sister Patricia Ann Perko, BVM (Vincent de Paul)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, July 25, 2017

Good morning and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Patricia Ann Perko.

Patricia Ann was born in Butte, Mont., on Sept. 11, 1934. She was the first child of Michael and Rose Evelyn Cunningham Perko. A brother Michael and a sister Mary completed the family. Pat loved her hometown and never forgot her roots. She knew everything about Butte and maintained relationships formed there for the rest of her life. Both of her parents were born there as well. Her father, a railway clerk, was a member of the first graduating class at St. Joseph Grade School. Sister M. Gervase Tuffy, BVM signed his school diploma.

Pat also attended St. Joseph Grade School, graduated from Girls Central High School, and completed one year at Saint Mary College in Xavier, Kan., before answering the call to religious life. She entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1954, and received the name Vincent de Paul upon her reception on March 19, 1955. She professed first vows on March 19, 1957, and lived 62 years as a BVM.

After profession, Pat was sent to study at the Scholasticate in Chicago. Her ministry in elementary education led to missions at St. Anthony and St. Joseph in Missoula, Mont.; St. Bridget in Omaha, Neb.; St. John in Seattle; and All Souls in San Francisco. She also worked in learning centers at St. John and at St. Charles in North Hollywood, Calif., where she later served as the director. She was the coordinator of the learning center at Central Junior High and a secretary at South Central School, both in Butte. She also ministered as the religious education coordinator at St. Francis Parish in San Francisco and as a leader for the RCIA and RENEW programs in her parish in Butte.

Pat was intelligent, hardworking and conscientious. Her levelheadedness, patience and flexibility put her at ease in any situation while her nonjudgmental acceptance and support of others helped her relate to people of all ages. She benefited from these qualities when she ministered as a nurse aide and home care provider in Butte for 12 years. Caregiving truly was her greatest ministry. Here at Mount Carmel, sewing was another talent that Pat graciously shared by mending clothes for other residents.

Pat was observant and pensive, quiet and unassuming, preferring to gather information before making a decision or even commenting. Yet, at an unexpected moment, she delighted others with a delicious sense of humor. She enjoyed organizing events, from vacations and family visits to Montana cluster meetings to a combined celebration for her golden jubilee and 70th birthday. After moving to Mount Carmel, she welcomed any new arrivals from Montana and members of her set and arranged gatherings for both groups.

In Pat, there was an intimate depth of knowing God. Many years ago, she embraced creation spirituality and discovered her true self. Those who ventured into relationship with her found a deeply spiritual woman and a font of wisdom.

Her golden jubilee booklet included quotes from Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen: “All of creation is a symphony of joy and jubilation . . . God has arranged all things in the world in consideration of everything else . . . Everything in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth, is penetrated with connectedness, is penetrated in relatedness.” Hildegard draws us into the joy and jubilation that all creatures celebrate together, echoing the command in Psalm 148 for all creation to “Praise God.”

Pat “loved [Wisdom] more than health or beauty, and chose to have her rather than light” (Wisdom 7:10) and along the journey found peace. When asked if she was afraid of dying, she simply replied, “No, I am entering into the cosmos.” Pat was a gentle soul, a true treasure, and a great blessing to us all.

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Harriet Holles, BVM (Agneda)

Harriet Holles, BVM (Agneda) died Saturday, June 17, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Wake will be from 9–11 a.m. on Wednesday, June 21, 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 Ladysmith, Wis., on March 23, 1933, to Harry and Agnes Fandel Holles. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1953, from St. Walter Parish, Roselle, Ill. She professed first vows on March 19, 1956, and final vows on July 16, 1961.

Sister Harriet taught elementary school in Seattle and Clinton, Iowa; and ninth grade in Glendale, Calif. She was a college math teacher in Chicago; Dubuque, Iowa; and Conception, Mo. She served as director of religious education in Springfield, Mo., and in spiritual formation on the college level in Conception, Mo. She was also a self-employed spiritual director.

She was preceded in death by her parents and sisters Alice Laura Holles and Geraldine Helen Holles. She is survived by nieces and nephews and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 63 years.

Sister Harriet Holles, BVM (Agneda)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, June 21, 2017

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Harriet Holles.

Harriet Ann Holles was born on March 23, 1933, in Ladysmith, Wis., on her maternal grandparents’ farm. She was the first of three daughters of Harry and Agnes Fandel Holles and was followed by sisters Alice and Geraldine. Geraldine died at the age of 18 in a car-train collision; Alice died in 1991. Harriet’s father worked as a waiter in Chicago hotels where he met many celebrities and delighted in talking about his encounters. Her mother, who the oldest of nine children, began at an early age to help raise her siblings and do household tasks. Harry and Agnes met when she moved to Chicago to work as a maid for wealthy families. Agnes was a woman of deep faith and only agreed to marry Harry, a Lutheran, if he converted to Catholicism. Together they created a home where faith was foremost.

Harriet attended Catholic schools, but it was only after meeting the BVMs at Mundelein College that she considered a religious vocation. Two years later, on Sept. 8, 1953, Harriet entered the congregation. She received the name Agneda upon her reception on March 19, 1954, professed first vows on March 19, 1956, and lived 63 years as a BVM. “Religious life has been a vibrant and growth-filled choice for me,” she remarked during her golden jubilee. “I am thankful for the wonderful companions and the multitudinous opportunities. It is with a full and grateful heart that I celebrate vowed living.”

Harriet began her teaching ministry with elementary students at St. John in Seattle and St. Mary in Clinton, Iowa, and secondary students at Holy Family in Glendale, Calif. However, for most of her professional life, she taught mathematics to post-secondary students at Mundelein College, Clarke University, and Loras College.

After Vatican II, Harriet felt drawn to learn more about spirituality, especially prayer. While waiting for a study grant, she spent one year in parish ministry at St. Joseph Parish in Springfield, Mo. “It was providential that I waited,” Harriet said. “I taught adult theology classes, I worked in liturgy, I brought communion to people in their homes, I visited the hospitals . . . all things I had never done before. It was a wonderful preparation.” She completed a theological studies certification at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif., and later she earned a master’s degree in Christian Spirituality from Creighton University in Omaha, Neb.

In 1967, after reading about retreats directed by small groups of sisters at a time when preached retreats by priests were prevalent, Harriet, along with Sister Barbara Kutchera, BVM (George Mary), invited four additional BVMs to share in this renewal experiment. Together they designed and implemented a retreat at Clarke University, with then chaplain Father James Barta joining the group for daily Mass and a reconciliation service. Afterward, the participants continued as a prayer group with the four living members, including Harriet, last meeting this past March.

Harriet created many prayer services for the BVM congregation through the years. After the BVM Constitutions were approved, she gave retreats on them from Chicago to Dubuque to Fort Dodge, Iowa, and offered sessions to novices. “For the ongoing formation of BVM opportunities, guidance, affirmation and companions, I am so very grateful,” commented Harriet. She also served on retreat teams at the Jesuit Retreat House in Oshkosh, Wis., as well for other women religious groups and gave several retreats at the Centre for Spiritual Renewal in Kumasi, Ghana.

Her work as a spiritual guide eventually led her to Conception Seminary College in Conception, Mo., where she combined her talents as a math instructor and a spiritual advisor. A seminary yearbook dedicated to Harriet praises her as “a person who has enriched our lives in the subtle mysteries of God, the Church, mathematics, and, most especially, ourselves in our walk with the Lord . . . Sister Harriet is one of these special ones who has gifted our community with her love, humor, concern, and her unique gift of the feminine perspective.”

Harriet continued to combine mathematics and spirituality for the next 20 years at Clarke University and Loras College. She excelled in creativity, innovation and depth in her teaching and presentations in both disciplines. In “retirement,” Harriet made herself available as a spirituality resource person and taught spirituality classes at the Roberta Kuhn Center where she presented the “New Universe Story” developed from her lifetime of learning.

Harriet was an ardent reader and a serious thinker, as was evident in her well-marked copy of the BVM Constitutions. Numerous tabs marked significant passages of underlined text and notes filled the margins, sometimes including a “YES!” all in capital letters with an exclamation point when she wholeheartedly agreed. Her copy was literally falling apart from her intense study.

While Harriet appreciated good films and theater productions and visiting places of interest, her relationships with a wide range of people were central in her life. She enjoyed offering hospitality, preparing delicious meals, and relishing in good conversation. It was her positive interaction with lay women and men that, in her words, “kept me off the streets!”

However, her most treasured relationship was with God. “God has done incredible things in me,” Harriet commented. “I continue to be astonished at how a fearful child born on a cold day in a Wisconsin farmhouse has grown in wisdom and grace, as well as age.”

St. Paul wrote, “For God who said, Let light shine out of darkness, has shone in [Harriet’s] heart to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ.” Filled with this knowledge, she guided many into a deeper relationship with their God. She has blessed us with her presence, her gifts and her humor for which we are deeply grateful. With joyful hearts, we celebrate that Harriet is now “gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord.”

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