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Remembering Sister (Mary) Alcuin Kelly, OSF

alcuin_webAs Pope Francis, along with Franciscans throughout the world, celebrated with great joy the feast of Godʹs Troubadour, our Sister Alcuin peacefully completed her transitus from this life to eternal life, a passage accompanied at its end by the soft notes of sparrows whose autumn medley gave expression to the heartfelt religious sentiment that served to orient the life of our beloved violoncellist: ʺsoli Deo gloria ‐ glory to God alone.ʺ (JS Bach)

Born in Sidney, Nebraska, on July 23, 1917, Agnes Kelly was the third of twelve children born to Francis and Anna (Reinke) Kelly. As a young child, she moved with her family from Nebraskaʹs panhandle to Falls City in the southeastern part of the state. Raised in Saints Peter and Paul Parish, she attended Lake Side Public School and Sacred Heart Academy where she was taught by the Ursuline sisters. As a young adolescent, following the example of her two older sisters, Bernardine and Marie Terese, Agnes made her way to Joliet, Illinois, to become an aspirant with the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate. She attended St. Francis Academy and as her 16th birthday approached, with a supportive recommendation from her aspirant mistress, Sister Apollonia, she prepared to enter the Postulancy in the Fall of 1933. In August of 1934, she was received as novice by Mother Thomasine and given her religious name, Sr. Mary Alcuin. Two years later, she professed her first vows and proceeded on her journey into an unfolding future of 80 years of consecrated life as a Joliet Franciscan.

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Remembering Sister Marian (Louis Marie) Voelker, OSF

Marian_Voelker_webOn Saturday, February 9, 2013, our sister, Marian Voelker peacefully made her journey home to God. Sharing with her beloved Mother Alfred a lifelong devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes, after whom she was named and whose feast day was close at hand, Marian rested confidently in the knowledge that at the hour of her death she would not be alone. Graciously living out her faith-filled “Fiat,” she quietly reached the end of her days and entrusted to the God of History the final chapter in the story of her life.

Born on October 18, 1935, Marian Bernadette Voelker was the sixth of ten children to be lovingly welcomed into the world by Robert and Marian (Schilling) Voelker. As a young child, Marian and her family lived in close proximity to her Voelker grand-parents from whom she acquired an inter-generational appreciation for “living histories.” Growing up in East St. Louis, Illinois, Marian’s inquisitive mind and historical imagination were stirred at an early age as she began to make meaning of the joys and sorrows of life as seen from the banks of the Mississippi River, the railway crossroads of the Midwest and a city that was an urban crucible of rapid social and economic change. Nurtured in the faith at St. Elizabeth’s Parish and educated by the Adorers of the Blood of Christ at St. Teresa’s Academy, she was drawn to religious life, yet uncertain as to where her envisioned vocational path would lead.

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Remembering Sister Grace (Gretchen) Straub, OSF

Straub_GraceOn the afternoon of October 22, 2012, our Sister Grace Straub found herself counted among those blessed servants whom the Master found waiting upon his arrival (Lk 12:37). Returning to God with graciousness all that she had graciously received, she died as she had lived, welcoming the gift of God, revealing his handiwork, and entering ever more deeply into the mystery of what it means to be created in Christ Jesus for good works (Eph 2:9-10).

Born to her loving parents, Edwin and Alta (Kirkpatrick) Straub, on November 10, 1934, Grace was the fourth of five children. Baptized and educated at St. Peter’s Parish in Mansfield, Ohio, she came under the influence of the Joliet Franciscan spirit as a child. From an early age, Grace, together with her sisters Rita and Helen, was mindful of the fragility and vulnerability of life. The death of her infant brother, Philip, and the special needs of her beloved sister, Patty, made her particularly sensitive to the preciousness of each person entrusted to her care.

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Remembering Sister Johanna Didier, OSF

Johanna_webOn the evening of March 6, 2012, as the glow of Sister Moon filled the starlit night skies of Goiás, beams of light fell upon Saint Genevieve Hospital in Goiânia. It was there that Sister Johanna Didier was called forth by the Holy Trinity and Our Lady to embark on her final missionary journey. Dying as she had lived, she responded with readiness and confidence: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord! Let it be done unto me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38). And so it happened that Sr. Johanna made her way to the gates of heaven with a smile on her face and a rosary in her hand.

Born to her parents Aloysius and Emma (Geimer) Didier, on March 19, 1918, in Evanston, Illinois, Martha Josephine was baptized five days later at St. Nicholas Church. The fourth of fifteen children, she attended St. Mary Parish School and St. Patrick Academy in Des Plaines, Illinois. On September 8, 1936, at the age of eighteen, she entered the Congregation as a postulant. In August of the following year, she was received as a novice and given the name Johanna in honor of St. John the Baptist her patron and model for mission. Two years later, she professed her first vows, went on to complete her undergraduate studies at the College of St. Francis and soon thereafter began her ministry of teaching. As time for her final profession drew near, Sr. Johanna included in her request to Mother Thomasine a solemn pledge that gave expression to the principle and foundation for her consecrated life: “I will strive to be a religious according to the heart of God and the spirit of our Congregation.”

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