On Thursday, March 3, 2011, our Sister Eugene Belmonte peacefully entrusted herself to the companionship of Sister Death. Earlier that day, as witnessed by those who kept watch at her bedside, the good news proclaimed from St. Mark’s Gospel took on special meaning: “Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.” (Mark 10:50) Attentive to the sacredness of her final hours among us, one could almost hear the voice of Jesus saying: “Benvenuta, cara mia, quanto sei bella per me.” (Welcome, my beloved one, how beautiful you are to me.)
Born on the near Westside of Chicago, Illinois, to her parents Maria (Broccolo) and Eugene Belmonte on June 17, 1918, Assunta Veronica Belmonte was one of seven children. Sadly for the family, two of the children, the only boys, died as infants. As a young girl, Susie, as shewas affectionately known, took her place in the middle of her four sisters, Carmela, Theresa, Anna and Angelina. As a child, she attended St. Callistus Parish. In 1932, she graduated from St. Mary’s High School and began working in an office. At the age of 26, she became a postulant with the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate on January 27, 1945. She entered the novitiate on August 12 of the same year and received the religious name Sister Mary Eugene. She professed her first vows two years later in 1947. Diligent in her studies at the College of St. Francis, Sister Eugene was most eager to teach young children. Prior to making her final profession on August 12, 1950, she wrote in her letter of request to Mother Immaculate the following words: “I hope that with the grace of God I may be able to do His work for many, many years. I realize I can never be thankful enough for this great privilege of teaching His little ones how to love Him and to bring them closer to Christ.” Over the years, she devoted herself to lifelong learning in the service of those to whom she ministered as teacher and as religious educator. Looking back on her 43 years in the ministries of parish‐based elementary education and catechesis, mostly in the Archdiocese of Chicago, it is evident that Sister Eugene’s hopes were more than fulfilled.