The following Diamond Jubilarian is celebrating 70 years in religious life with the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
She entered the BVM Congregation Feb. 2, 1953. She professed first vows on Aug. 15, 1955, and and final vows on Aug. 15, 1960. She will gather with the September 1953 set on Sept. 10, 2023, for a liturgy and dinner to celebrate 70 years in religious life.
Sister Elaine (Herold) Campbell, BVM
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Chicago native Elaine (Harold) Campbell had BVM teachers all through school, first at Our Lady Help of Christians and then Immaculata High School. After high school, Elaine went to college for a year, worked for a year, and realized that was not fulfilling. She felt the call to do something for others. She went to speak to her former high school teacher and discussed the BVM life. She thought, “Let me try that.” And so she did. When she told her family of her decision she says, “They were surprised, but very supportive.”
She recalls, “I decided to wait until February to enter . . . that way, if it didn’t work out, I could be back home by summer.” That was 70 years ago. Elaine shares, “Only by the grace of God and my BVM sisters have I been able to live this life . . . I was 20 years old when I entered. Where did all those years go?” She reflects on her life with the BVMs and shares that she has always had a feeling that she is cared about. “We are a group of women who care about and support one another . . . even from a distance.”
She entered the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Congregation on Feb. 2, 1953, from Our Lady Help of Christians Parish, Chicago. She professed first vows on Aug. 15, 1955, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1960.
Elaine went on to St. Ambrose College in Davenport, Iowa, to earn her BA in education and then Loyola University Chicago for her master’s in education. Elaine ministered as an elementary teacher at St. Agatha and St. Eugene in Chicago and Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Chattanooga, Tenn. She served as principal in Illinois at St. Eugene in Chicago, St. Raymond in Mount Prospect, and St. Catherine Laboure in Glenview; and as interim principal at St. Hubert in Hoffmann Estates. She also served as a Minister of Care at St. Raymond parish in Mount Prospect, Ill.
“I would say my ‘favorite’ mission was at St. Eugene because it was my first school as teacher turned principal. I grew so much while I was there . . . but I would say my ‘heart’ has been with St. Raymond as I have lived and served here since 1991.”
Elaine shares that it’s the people in the parishes throughout her life that have led her to the Lord. “It’s the people in the pews that have led me to see the love and mercy of Christ.” It is also in the parishes that she feels connected and accepted. “I feel that I have been accepted in these places because I’m a BVM, and the reputation that holds.”
Now retired, Elaine still visits with people and lives in the St. Raymond parish community. “I am so thankful for what I have. And so thankful for this BVM community that loves me and allows me to be who I am. I plan to stay in Mount Prospect, Ill. for now, I’m only 91 . . . I still have time before I will come to Dubuque.”
The following Diamond Jubilarians are celebrating 70 years in religious life with the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
They entered the BVM Congregation on Sept. 8, 1953. They professed first vows on March 19, 1956, and final vows July 16, 1961.
Sister Carol (Anthony) Atchity, BVM
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Carol (Anthony) Atchity, BVM met the BVMs in elementary school at St. Aloysius in Kansas City, Mo. She was in 4th grade when her teacher asked students to raise their hand if they thought they would like to be a nun. Carol’s hand shot straight up.
At St. Aloysius High School, Carol became close with her teacher, BVM Mable (Mary Oswin) Parker. “I admired her so much . . . I wanted to be just like her. “She recalls feeling God calling her into vocation and says confidently, “The Holy Spirit wanted me to go.”
Still, the decision was difficult. The thought of leaving friends and family behind was emotional. “But the day I stepped foot in the Motherhouse at Mount Carmel, I knew that this was the right decision.” Her family support and encouragement made the transition less trying. “My parents were so supportive and proud. My Dad had a Holy card that read, ‘I’m a Daddy of a Nun!’”
Carol entered the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary community on Sept. 8, 1953, and began her ministry teaching third grade at St. Vincent, third and fourth grade at Presentation and sixth grade at Annunciation in Chicago; she taught fifth and sixth grade in Riverside, Iowa before returning to Illinois to teach fifth and sixth grades at Carroll Catholic in Lincoln. During these years, Carol earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa, and a master’s degree in reading specialization from Northern Illinois University, in DeKalb.
Later, she earned another master’s degree in pastoral theology from St. Mary of the Woods in Indiana. She then embarked on a new ministry that would fill the remainder of her working days as a hospital chaplain and clinical pastoral education supervisor. From 1981–2003 Carol served at St. John Hospital/St John’s Regional Health Center. Later, she ministered at Elfinder Manor as a chaplain and teacher.
“I can’t pick a favorite ministry . . . I taught little children for 23 years and each one was special to me . . . but my time as a chaplain struck me with a love for people of different denominations . . . God is present there too.” The interactions, stories, and intimate details shared with the people she ministered to touched her deeply and she carries them with her to this day.
Transitioning to retirement was a “needed, but difficult” time. Carol remarks, “I used to contact 100 people a week . . . having that drop down to 5–10 per week was hard.” A pastor’s encouraging words reminded her that to everything, there is a season. “He told me, ‘Carol, God called you to be Martha for many, many years . . . now He is calling you to be Mary.’” Freedom was found in those words.
Today, Carol feels that she “can be closer to the Lord.” A slower schedule allows more time for learning, prayer, and reflection. She is considering a move to Mount Carmel Bluffs in Dubuque, Iowa, to be among the community once again. “It means the world to me to belong to such a congregation that treats us like mature women—allowing us to pursue different ministries, placing trust in us, and encouraging us.”
Reflecting back on her years as a BVM, Carol shares, “I’m a free spirit. I never would have lasted in a strict community. The BVMs have always allowed me—and encouraged me—to be myself. I was never just ‘Sister Carol,’ I’ve been allowed to be my full self. My spirituality is deep inside me. I have a lot of fun, I pray, and I’m religious.”
Sister Mary Anne (Leslie) Bradish, BVM
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At the age of 18, Mary Anne Bradish made the decision to join the community of Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary that had taught her in grade school and high school. Her mother was thrilled and her father—who practiced no religion—supported her, gave his permission, and just “wanted me to be happy.”
She had pondered joining Maryknoll, the international Catholic society of apostolic life, but wanted to remain in the United States to be near her family, especially her oldest brother Harry who had cerebral palsy. She was very close to Harry, reminiscing, “I skipped all the way home from kindergarten to teach him what I learned. In his later years he became my teacher as he was so close to Jesus. Now, he is my saint.”
Mary Anne entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1953, from Incarnation in Glendale, Calif. She professed first vows on March 19, 1956, and final vows on July 16, 1961. She holds a BA in Natural Sciences from Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa, a MA in Theology from St. Mary’s College of California, and a Certification in Spirituality and Spiritual Direction from Kino Institute, Ariz.
Mary Anne spent 17 years teaching first graders at St. Anne in Santa Ana, Calif., Christ the King in Kansas City, Mo., Presentation in Chicago, St. Philip in Pasadena, Calif., and St. Matthew in Phoenix.
She served as the director of religious education and a member of the pastoral team at St. Mark parish in Phoenix and Our Lady of Lourdes parish Tujunga, Calif. She recalls visiting homes of those preparing for first eucharist and meeting their families. Many were “very poor but very loving.” She found great joy in seeing the parishioners helping the families of those receiving the first eucharist. She loved “having the privilege of connecting the children of the parishes in liturgies: singing, sharing the homily, and dancing . . . being together in Posadas, and caring for those in the nursing homes.”
After a year of preparation and certification (CPE) at Sharp Hospitals in San Diego, Mary Anne ministered in Bakersfield, Calif., for 30 years as a chaplain for Mercy and Memorial Hospitals and served as the regional manager of chaplain services for Mercy and Memorial Hospitals. She particularly enjoyed being a member of the ICU team, making rounds daily to “learn, to share so that both patient and family/loved ones are given dignity.” Mary Anne recalls that some of the patients were inmates that had caring officers by their side. She delights that some of their group still connect with each other.
Seventy years as a BVM has given Mary Anne many wonderful opportunities and memories. Some of her favorites include gathering for 20 years or more in her apartment with a group of seven friends every Wednesday night sharing laughter, faith, and love. Together they prepared for the upcoming Sunday liturgy, read meaningful books, and discussed their faith journey. She also enjoyed her times staying with retired BVMs Annabelle Pauline (Mary Paulino) Crabb and Virginia (Justinian) McCaffrey when she would travel to tend to her family.
Today, Mary Anne stays very busy, enjoying visiting with sisters daily, writing to many friends, singing the choir, helping feed the hungry in Dubuque, reading, journaling, and going to classes offered at Mount Carmel Bluffs. “I am most passionate about sharing love. To me, being a BVM means to love one another as I am loved.”
Sister Gwen (Leontia) Farry, BVM
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At the age of five, Gwen announced that she wanted to be a “Sister-Nurse” like her mother’s cousin. The thought of living a vowed life impressed her heart and mind off and on throughout adolescence. During junior high, Gwen thought there would be “no way” she’d consider becoming a sister. However, throughout her high school years at Holy Family in Glendale, Calif., the lure and desire became stronger. “The BVMs there were so friendly and seemed to really like each other . . . that was very appealing to me.”
Sadness struck Gwen’s family during her sophomore year, with the loss of her beloved father. While he wasn’t present during her junior year when she made the decision to join the BVMs, she says that she knows, “Dad would have been very happy.” Gwen’s mother was surprised by the decision, but was very supportive.
Gwen entered the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary congregation Sept. 8, 1953, from St. Francis of Assisi Parish, in Los Angeles. She professed first vows on March 19, 1956, and final vows on July 16, 1961.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in history from San Diego College for Women, a master’s degree in education from University of San Francisco, and a master’s degree in pastoral ministry from Seattle University.
Gwen served as a principal at St. Clare in Portland, Ore.; St. Patrick in Carlsbad, Calif.; and Holy Redeemer in Montrose, Calif., where she taught as well. She also taught at St. Matthew in Phoenix.
Her dream of becoming a “Sister-Nurse” came true as she began to minister as a pastoral associate and chaplain at Providence Medical Center in Seattle and as chaplain and director of pastoral care for Providence Seaside Health System in Seaside, Ore. She also served the BVM congregation as a pastoral care minister at Marian Hall, in Dubuque, Iowa. Gwen shares that during these ministries she experienced some deeply moving, tender moments. “To be with people when they are so vulnerable is very special. The connection that is forged in those deep places of the hurt or pain they are experiencing.”
Understanding hurt, pain, and wanting to help has led Gwen to get involved in activism. Her efforts in advocacy began in 1960 during the grape boycott, standing outside grocery stores distributing fliers about the working conditions endured by California farmhands. She visited farms and met labor rights activist César Chavez. She has protested, staged sit-ins, blocked traffic, and been fined and even arrested. She lent her voice to demonstrations against nuclear weapons, immigration laws, and social services issues. She also served as a staff representative at the 8th Day Center for Justice in Chicago.
“Each of my ministries have been special, remarkable, and important.” In retirement, Gwen stays busy serving the social justice issues and causes she is passionate about and enjoys being at Mount Carmel Bluffs in Dubuque, Iowa, entertaining both the nostalgic and future-oriented thoughts that are ever-present. She is looking forward to a “whole new adventure” and seeing the sisters back together.
“I can’t believe it’s been 70 years . . . I have been so fortunate to get to live this beautiful, wonderful life . . . it is truly a gift.”
Sister Margaret “Maggie” (Daniel Anne) McGinn, BVM
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Margaret “Maggie” (Daniel Anne) McGinn, BVM entered the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin community at the age of 18 from her home parish, Sacred Heart, in Davenport, Iowa. Margaret met the BVMs while attending Catholic school at Sacred Heart Elementary and Immaculate Conception Academy.
A few months after graduating high school, Margaret entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1953. She reflects, “I just always felt that was what God wanted me to do.” She professed first vows on March 19, 1956, and final vows on July 16, 1961. Margaret would embark on a life of service to students, staff, and faculty.
Her first mission was at St. Augustine Elementary, an African American school, in Memphis, Tenn., teaching third grade. “This was during the pre-civil rights days . . . when out in public, we’d be segregated . . . on busses, the white people would have to sit at the front, etc. . . . but in the classroom, there was no separation whatsoever.” Margaret was able to get close to the students not only physically, but emotionally. “I would have stayed there forever” she recalls. She enjoyed teaching in the “shot gun shacks” (small one-room wide buildings) on the school property which housed the primary grades. Her time in Memphis came to an end when she was called to mission in Chicago.
Margaret taught third and fourth grade at Holy Cross in Chicago for two years before moving closer to home to teach seventh grade at Sacred Heart, in Rock Island, Ill. After two years, Margaret made her way back to the Chicago area and stayed there from 1964–2018.
She ministered as a teacher at St. Tarcissus, St. Jerome Elementary, Angel Guardian Care Center, Cathedral High School, St. Patrick High School, as a librarian at St. Ignatius Elementary, and as a teacher at Regina High School in Wilmette, Ill. She also served as an English instructor and writing lab staff member at Truman College in Chicago.
While teaching, Margaret earned her bachelor’s degree in English from St. Ambrose College, in Davenport. She utilized her excellent writing and English skills in other ways as well. She wrote a number of BVM related articles, served on the Communications Advisory Committee, and the Editorial Board which oversees and creates the BVM Salt magazine.
Margaret enjoyed participating in social justice issues and volunteered for several decades responding to the multiple needs connected with the Sarah’s Circle Center. She repeatedly braved the chilly Chicago winters to participate in the Annual Winter Walk which raises money to end homelessness for women.
Today, Margaret is retired and enjoying the fellowship and surroundings at Mount Carmel Bluffs in Dubuque, Iowa.
Sister Patricia (Jane Joseph) McNamara, BVM
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Patricia “Pat” (Jane Joseph) McNamara, BVM was born and raised in Dubuque, Iowa. She attended Catholic school at Nativity and Visitation Academy operated by the Sisters of Visitation. A year after graduating from high school, Pat entered the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
She met the BVMs while studying at Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa, and knew “that’s what I wanted to do.” She entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1953, from the Church of the Nativity Parish. She professed first vows on March 19, 1956, and final vows on July 16, 1961. While teaching elementary school in Iowa and California, Pat completed her bachelor’s degree in natural sciences at Clarke.
With a degree in hand, Pat went to teach in Lincoln, Neb., and Chicago. During these years, Pat worked on her master’s degree in biology and general science, with a minor in science education. She then embarked on a 17 year career as a high school math and science teacher at Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein, Ill.
During her tenure as a teacher at Carmel Catholic, Pat earned another master’s degree . . . this time in pastoral studies. Within the next year, she launched a new career as a pastoral associate. Pat served as campus minister and religious studies instructor at Clarke and as campus minister at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. She ministered in Iowa as a pastoral associate at St. Benedict Parish in Decorah, St. Michael Parish in Belle Plaine, and St. Ludmilla Parish in Cedar Rapids; and as a pastoral administrator at St. Patrick Parish in Anamosa.
She was named ‘Outstanding Iowa Religious of the Year’ by the Iowa Knights of Columbus. She was nominated by the council in Anamosa, where she was pastoral administrator of St. Patrick Parish. “Sister Pat came when we were dealing with the loss of a resident priest,” the council said. “She brought life, hope, and healing to our parish. A welcome and compassionate atmosphere has been formed.” There, she led the daily liturgy and did all the pastoring in the 400-household parish.
In addition to her studies and pastoral commitments, Pat volunteered at Mount Carmel Bluffs in Dubuque, Iowa, and taught courses for the Roberta Kuhn Center, an enrichment program offered through the Sisters of Charity on the Mount Carmel Bluffs campus. She also served on the BVM Congregation on the Churches’ Center for Land and People Board, the Associate Coordinating Committee, and the Community Board Delegate: South Central Region.
When reflecting on what she is most thankful for, she comments, “I have a long list . . . there’s just so many things.” Now retired and living in Mount Carmel Bluffs among the beauty of the grounds she “could see while growing up,” she enjoys being connected to her BVM sisters and when weather allows, connected to nature.
Sister Mary Ellen (Davidette) Meckley, BVM
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Mary Ellen (Davidette) Meckley, BVM lived in New York state until the age of 10. In 1946, after WWII, her family moved to Phoenix due to her father’s health. Prior to the move, Mary Ellen, the only child, had only attended public school. She recalls, “I was afraid of going to a Catholic school . . . I had heard stories of sisters smacking kids with rulers . . . I didn’t want any part of that!”
In Phoenix, her family attended St. Matthews Church which had a strong BVM presence. “Why don’t you give it [Catholic school] a try?” her mother urged. Willing, Mary Ellen enrolled in the parish grade school. “When I met the BVMs, my fears changed into admiration.”
In seventh grade, her teacher, Sister Mary Norette Fitzgibbon, BVM “changed me and inspired me . . . I admired her very much.” During eighth grade, Norette became ill. Mary Ellen sent fervent prayers asking for healing. “What an answer to prayer . . . not only did sister get better, but she was also transferred to St. Francis Xavier Elementary School . . . we could still connect while I was a student at St. Francis Xavier High School.”
Mary Ellen was thankful for the extra time with Norette and the BVMs who taught her in high school. Her love for the BVMs deepened. “I thought they were exemplary . . . such smart, fun-loving women . . . “Previous notions were confirmed. “I said to myself, ‘Yes, I want to be a sister too!’” She felt that the BVMs were excellent teachers and “practiced what they preached.”
She entered the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary congregation on Sept. 8, 1953, from St. Francis Xavier, Phoenix. She professed first vows on March 19, 1956, and final vows on July 16, 1961. During this time, Mary Ellen’s parents took in a few people whom she had met that needed to move to a better climate to benefit their health.
Mary Ellen served as an elementary teacher at St. Bernard in Los Angeles and St. Charles in North Hollywood, Calif.; St. Therese and St. Aloysius in Kansas City, Mo.; and All Saints in Tucson, Ariz. Mary Ellen took summer courses in Chicago to earn her bachelor’s degree in biology from Mundelein College.
During her mission in Kansas City, at the age of 30, Mary Ellen became a big sister—her parents adopted a baby girl, Mary Joyce.
Life continued to change and evolve. After “requesting to go,” Mary Ellen got her wish and was missioned to teach at Presentation, an inner-city school in Chicago. There, she was introduced to community organizing and has participated ever since.
Later, because of Mary Ellen’s ability to interact with inner-city students and parents, Upward Bound Director Helen (St. George) Thompson, BVM asked the congregation if Mary Ellen could be released from teaching to be an administrative assistant and family liaison worker for the Upward Bound program at Mundelein College. The program helped inner-city students, mostly Black and Hispanic, reach their full potential. The request was granted, and Mary Ellen began what she calls, “the happiest times in my life.”
Despite enjoying her days in education, Mary Ellen truly longed for social work. “I thank God that the BVM community allowed me to attend Loyola University School of Social Work!”
After earning her master’s degree, she spent the next 48 years as a social worker in Chicago. She served five years at Illinois State Psychiatric Institute, one year as Residence Director at Oak Park Hospital in Oak Park, Ill., and 40+ years at Mount Sinai Hospital as a home health social worker.
Officially “retiring” at 83 years old, Mary Ellen shares, “I am very happy for all my years in social work . . . I have lived in and worked with poor communities and those from different cultures. I was able to connect with people from all over the city of Chicago and its suburbs.” Retirement has not stopped her from advocating for the issues she holds dear.
Mary Ellen has lent her voice, time, and talents to social justice causes. “I have been blessed to have been able to participate in the BVMs growing and becoming more social justice minded.” Mary Ellen has braved the frigid Chicago temperatures to participate in protests and other causes, including walks for Sarah’s Circle and the Good Friday Walks for Justice. She also participated in the Meet Our Sisters Tour in conjunction with National Vocation Awareness Week to raise awareness of the vast presence of Catholic sisters in Chicagoland and in the five mile walk in support of immigrant rights and Citizenship for All.
She believes that “people need homecare” and speaks out to increase services. “I want to be with those who are affected by the issues,” she says. Mary Ellen serves as a board member of Chicago’s Jane Addams Senior Caucus, which successfully lobbied the Illinois legislature to close tax loopholes for big corporations and the wealthy and secured funding to expand a community care program so seniors can remain in their homes.
Recently, Mary Ellen moved to Mount Carmel Bluffs in Dubuque, Iowa. “After living alone for 20 years, I am enjoying living in community with my sisters again.”
Although she is still getting used to her new apartment and the slower pace away from the “big city,” Mary Ellen enjoys looking out her sliding glass doors and watching the sunset. She also likes going outside and walking around the beautiful park-like complex. “I feel privileged to live with such outstanding people, now, and through the years to come.”
Mary Ellen enjoys attending Mass in the Mary Frances Clarke Chapel and being a part of the predominately African American congregation of St. Agatha Church—a church she has proudly attended since 1970—via online services. “I renewed my vows at St. Agatha for my 25th and 50th jubilarian celebrations. I look forward to being there again this September, to renew my vows in my 70th year as a BVM.”
Sister Margaret (Paul Joseph) Sannasardo, BVM
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Margaret “Marge” (Paul Joseph) Sannasardo says that she was “awed and impressed” by the BVMs that taught her in Chicago. She began thinking of becoming a sister during her years in elementary school at St. Vincent DePaul. She enjoyed playing being a “nun-teacher” and was attracted to the lifestyle her BVM teachers modeled before her.
The thought and desire persisted until one day during senior year at Immaculata High School, her teacher told her to go to the principal’s office to state her “intention of being a BVM.” She wasn’t sure what her answer was going to be.
“Though I dated, went to dances and parties my senior year, I decided to enter.” Her decision shocked her parents; her mom wondered if there were other Italian BVM girls and made her promise not to be a “mean nun.” She states, “I promised her I wouldn’t . . . I think I kept my promise.”
Marge entered the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary congregation on Sept. 8, 1953, from St. Vincent de Paul parish. She professed first vows on March 19, 1956, and final vows on July 16, 1961. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in education from the University of San Francisco, and a master’s degree in pastoral studies from Loyola University Chicago.
She ministered as a pre-school teacher at St. Joseph Academy in Des Moines, Iowa; elementary teacher at St. Ann and Immaculate Conception in Butte, Mont.; and St. Paul in San Francisco; assistant principal at Carmel High School in Mundelein, Ill.; principal at St. Constance in Chicago and St. Joseph in Round Lake, Ill.; and pastoral associate at St. Mary in Riverside, Ill. She also served the congregation as a regional representative.
She especially enjoyed being a principal and a pastoral associate. “I enjoyed the relationships I had, using my gifts and leadership skills.” During her tenure as principal at St. Constance, she had asked the pastor if the retiring sisters from nearby Immaculata could live in the parish convent. “He was delighted to host them . . . These 16–18 sisters were so much help to the parish! It was a very special time for me.”
Today, she stays busy serving on the Sisters’ Development Network, corresponding with donors and supporters. She also recommends BVM Ministry Partnerships Grants for organizations in need of funding.
“There are so many cherished memories . . . but most special are the deep friendships I’ve developed and having time and opportunities to grow in wisdom and grace.” Marge is passionate about being friendly and kind, loving and serving God and her neighbors with all of her heart.
Sister Eugena Sullivan, BVM
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Eugena Sullivan, BVM met the BVMs while she was in college at Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa. She was earning her bachelor’s degree in chemistry education when she felt the call to be a part of the congregation.
With the loving support of her family, Eugena joined the BVM community. Eugena was one of three Sullivans—Eugena, Betty, and Mary Alma—in her set. They made up their own song, a revision of the George M. Cohan song “Harrigan.” “S-U-double L-I-V-A-N spells Sullivan. Proud of all the Irish blood that’s in me . . . ”
Eugena entered the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary congregation Sept. 8, 1953, from her hometown parish, St. Kilian, in Chicago. She professed first vows on March 19, 1956, and final vows on July 16, 1961. Eugena began her mission teaching sixth grade at Our Lady Help of Christians in Chicago. Later, she ministered as a secondary science and chemistry teacher in California, at Holy Family in Glendale and Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif. She also taught at Regis High School in Kansas City, Mo.
Eugena went on to earn a master’s in education with a minor in guidance from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Most of her ministry was then spent serving as the registrar and as a member of the computer center staff at Clarke. For 27 years, she was a member of and in service to the Clarke University family.
Now retired, Eugena enjoys talking to her older sister, Mary, age 103, every Sunday, going to Mass, and visiting with her friends at Mount Carmel Bluffs in Dubuque, Iowa.
Sister Mary Alma (Robert Emmett) Sullivan, BVM
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Mary Alma (Robert Emmett) Sullivan, BVM
Born on the Southeast side of Chicago, Mary Alma (Robert Emmett) Sullivan, BVM was the only girl and oldest to three brothers. As the self-proclaimed “father’s favorite” and tomboy, she describes her family and extended family life as “extraordinarily close.” She shares that when her family built a home in the Edgewood area of Chicago, her aunt and uncle also built a home there so that they all could remain together.
Her family members were strong Roman Catholics that valued education. Mary Alma went to Catholic schools in Chicago her entire student career, attending Our Lady of Peace Parish, Queen of All Saints, Immaculata High School, and Mundelein College. Her father was a lawyer; her mother was a law clerk. They desired—and witnessed—all of their children attend and graduate college. Although her father hoped that one of the children would pursue law, the children chose different paths.
Mary Alma received her bachelor’s degree in English. “I had no inclination or idea that I would become a BVM sister . . . I can only say that later I realized the reason that I felt freer as a woman was that I attended Mundelein College where I saw women doing everything . . . I thought if I want to be like that, if I want to have that kind of life, then this is where I should be.” She explains that although her parents and family were devout Roman Catholics, she felt the call of the spirit drawing her to the community more so out of pragmatic desire than the “overtly religious pitches.”
Mary Alma entered the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary congregation Sept. 8, 1953, from Queen of All Saints Parish, Chicago. She professed first vows on March 19, 1956, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1961.
Mary Alma dedicated her life ministry to education. She served at Holy Cross, St. Dominic High School, and Cathedral High School in Chicago; St. Joseph in Rock Island, Ill.; St. John in Seattle; Regina High School in Iowa City, Iowa; Our Lady of Peace in St. Paul, Minn.; and Our Lady of Lourdes in Tujunga, Calif.
She went on to earn two masters’ degrees: English from Loyola University Chicago and Speech from Northwestern University.
She returned to Mundelein (later Loyola University), but this time to teach. She taught English, cinema studies, and communications for over 20 years. She also ministered as communications commissioner for the BVM congregation and spent part of her retirement in Chicago before returning to the congregational home in Dubuque.
In early 2022, a Mary Alma Sullivan, BVM scholarship was established at the Gannon Center for Women and Leadership by former student, Gabrielle Buckley, who had attended Mundelein during Mary Alma’s tenure. She remarks, “Education has always been primary in my life. I’m happy that the funds will be used to help women that feel the same way I do about the importance of education. I am glad that this scholarship will help them attain their B.A. level of studies.”
Sister Mary Alma (Robert Emmett) Sullivan passed away, June 25, 2023.
Sister Patricia (Rosaline) Tang, BVM
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“I am grateful to God and Mary Frances Clarke for allowing me to spend 70 years of my 86 years of life as a BVM sister.”
Patricia first met the BVMs as a young girl when four sisters were invited to staff her parish school. Her mother “loved them immediately” and cooked dinner for them weekly, including cakes decorated with fresh flowers. When her brothers left for college, Patricia delivered the weekly dinners to the convent on her bike. She recalls being “shocked to see the sisters in soft veil and bare arms.”
Relationships formed and Patricia felt the call to become a BVM. She entered the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Congregation Sept. 8, 1953, from St. Agnes Parish, Phoenix. She professed first vows on March 19, 1956, and final vows on July 16, 1961.
Her BVM journey began with having “the good fortune” of having Mary (Leo) Hogan, BVM as her novice mistress. Patricia shares that it is Leo’s guidance, with her spiritual instructions written in her classical udi-cursive writing that stays with her. “Her loving kindness was especially apparent, when after six months in novitiate, I flew home to Phoenix, accompanied by a professed BVM to witness my dad’s death and burial at 62 years of age.”
In her 70 years as a BVM, Patricia shares that she is most grateful for the love and care shown toward her and the encouragement she has received to develop her gifts in music and the “freedom to be herself.” She has enjoyed a lifetime of traveling and training with the finest in choral music. She says that she “could write books of blessed memories” of her life with the BVMs and her ministry in music.
Patricia earned her BA in music from San Diego College for Women and her MA in music education from California State University.
Her favorite mission was St. Charles Borromeo Church in North Hollywood, Calif. There, she met parishioner Paul Salamunovich, the renowned parish choral conductor and L.A. Master Chorale director. He inspired Patricia to pursue her ministry in teaching children’s music. Her ministry included being a member of the St. Charles Choir for 40 years . . . she traveled the world, performing throughout the United States and Europe. Her biggest highlight was singing for Pope John Paul II in Clementine Hall at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.
Because of Paul’s influence, Patricia was invited to join two church boards; one in Los Angeles and one in Dallas. She traveled throughout the United States giving workshops to teachers.
Now retired, Patricia enjoys reading periodicals, watching TV, and staying in touch with friends. She also helps a friend with her daily needs and enjoys getting her exercise by walking to Mass at St. Brendan Church – a beautiful Gothic church, formerly staffed by BVMs in Los Angeles.
A Eucharistic Liturgy was held Sunday, September 10, 2023.
Send an email congratulatory message to a sister on her jubilee
To send a congratulatory message to a sister on her jubilee or to donate to the BVM congregation on behalf of these sisters, visit: bvmsisters.org/support-our-mission/online-donations.
For more information contact:
Angie Connolly, Director of Communications