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Sister Eleanor Bussing

“Let the little children come to me, do not stop them … .” (Mark 10:14)

“My reflection on the passage brought to mind several facets of the woman we knew and loved for her many endearing and consistent qualities of mind and heart. Sister Eleanor was a welcoming person with whom one felt immediately at ease, as the children felt with Jesus,” said Sister Ruth Eileen Dwyer in her commentary for Sister Eleanor Bussing, who died Sept. 25.

One of six children, Eleanor Frances was born Oct. 3, 1923, in Brazil, Ind., to Sylvester and Agnes Klein Bussing. She attended Annunciation Grade School, Brazil, and graduated from Providence Aspirancy, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. She entered the Congregation Jan. 5, 1941, and professed first and perpetual vows Aug. 15, 1943, and Jan. 23, 1949, respectively. Sister Eleanor, formerly Sister Marie Eugene, earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.

In 1943, Sister Eleanor commenced teaching at St. Therese, Wilson, N.C. Her Illinois classrooms included St. Sylvester, Maternity BVM, St. Mark, St. Mel, St. Andrew and Immaculate Conception, Chicago; and St. Joseph, Galesburg. In Indiana, she ministered at St. Malachy, Brownsburg. She spent one year as activities director of Providence Retirement Home, New Albany, Ind., before returning to education as the supervisor of open study at Mother Theodore Guerin High School, River Grove, Ill., for 11 years.

As Sister Ruth Eileen explained, this supervisory position was a little trying. “By her own admission, this tested the limits of her welcoming presence. But she succeeded to be her unique and well-loved self, and it was clearly and firmly made known that study was the law of the hour,” remembered Sister Ruth Eileen.

After this ministry, Sister Eleanor joined her sister, Sister Richard, in Missoula, Mont., and spent five years as a tutor at St. Joseph Grade School. She then ministered three years as a home visitor before returning to the Woods in 2000. Sister Ruth Eileen shared about the camaraderie enjoyed by the Bussing family. “Here at the Woods, we enjoyed the witness of Sister Eleanor’s openness to others as she, with Sisters Francis Eugene and Richard, shared the presence and generosity of brother Frank with all of us. As you know, Frank resides at Maryvale and works tirelessly as a volunteer driver and respondent to any request for assistance. One of Sister Eleanor’s greatest joys over the past months since Frank joined us was to organize and assist with the distribution of treats such as fresh fruit or bagels which Frank provided for all his sisters. Such events became a gracious family project in which each member had a role.

“Sister Eleanor rejoiced in her role as a child of a loving God and a daughter of Providence. Welcoming each day in faith, hope and love, she shared her joy with all. Although we watched her strength decline over the past months, her strong spirit and good humor never failed. Her response to the sudden invitation of Jesus to come to him was life’s final yes,” said Sister Ruth Eileen.

The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Eleanor was celebrated Oct. 1, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She is survived by two sisters, Sisters Richard and Francis Eugene, both of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods; and two brothers, Francis “Frank” of West Terre Haute, and Jerome “Gene” of Granada Hills, Calif. She was preceded in death by her brother Fred.

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