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Sister Mary Irene Krohn

Sister Mary Irene Krohn

“And lo! the ideal, hidden beneath, revives.” (H.W. Longfellow)

“Our Lents are not always measured by calendars, nor are the seasons of our lives. The past 10 years have been for Sister Mary Irene a long Lent. The Lord finally came on March 12 at 9:10 a.m., shortly after the nine o’clock reunion. He called, and she got up ever so quietly and went with him whom long ago she had chosen,” said Sister Mary Roger Madden in her commentary for Sister Mary Irene Krohn.

Eleanor Lillian Krohn was born to John and Mae Copp Krohn on Oct. 12, 1914, in Chicago. As Sister Mary Roger shared, Sister Mary Irene had a most unusual path to Catholicism. Her mother, who was not Catholic, “married a fervent Irish Catholic.” After bearing two sons, Mae found herself a widow. Later, she married another Catholic, and the couple brought two more children into this world. Mae’s second husband also died. Mae then married John Krohn, who was not a Catholic. The two daughters from this union, one of whom was Eleanor Lillian, were baptized in the Catholic faith and received a Catholic education.

“It was as Sister Mary Irene herself said — a very unusual but very happy family,” said Sister Mary Roger.

Eleanor Lillian attended Our Lady of Sorrows Grade School and Providence High School, both in Chicago. She entered the Congregation Feb. 11, 1934, and professed first and perpetual vows Aug. 15, 1936, and 1942, respectively. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.

Sister Mary Irene commenced teaching in 1936 at St. Catherine, Fort Wayne, Ind. Her other Indiana classrooms included Sacred Heart, Evansville; St. Patrick and St. Anthony, Indianapolis; St. Patrick, St. Jude and Cathedral, Fort Wayne; Sacred Heart, Terre Haute; St. Charles, Bloomington; St. Joseph, Jasper; and St. Susanna, Plainfield. She also ministered at St. Therese, Wilson, N.C., and St. Rose, Chelsea, Mass. In Illinois, she taught at St. Agnes, St. Mark, St. Andrew, St. Mel and Immaculate Conception, Chicago; and St. Athanasius, Evanston.

In 1979, Sister Mary Irene left classroom teaching to serve as a parish minister for St. Joseph Parish, Shelbyville, Ind. She also served a year as a residence assistant at Simeon House, Indianapolis. Sister Mary Irene returned to the Woods in 1981 and provided a variety of services to the Congregation.

“This is the story of a simple — some would say uneventful — life,” continued Sister Mary Roger. “In ancient times, paper was scarce and expensive, so scribes would erase the manuscript and write over it. This is called a palimpsest. Each of us is the author of our own life. Through our decisions, choices and actions, we write the story that is clearly legible to all who care to read. Nevertheless, beneath the surface lies another message, barely discernible except to the practiced eye.

“The ‘ideal,’ the underwriting on this palimpsest, is the story penned by God in the depths of the soul. It is here that the desires of the spirit are revealed, and the weakness of the flesh falls away as inconsequential.”

The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Mary Irene was celebrated March 16 with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She was preceded in death by all her siblings.

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