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Sister Mary (Mary Ephrem) Hickey

Sister Mary Hickey

“Love is always patient and kind.” (1 Corinthians 13:4)

“As I was preparing these remarks, I had a hard time finding people with ‘anecdotal stories’ about Sister Mary Hickey. But over and over, sisters described her as loyal, kind, patient and a good friend. It seems that her character was like that described by St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians,” said Sister Margaret Quinlan in her commentary for Sister Mary Hickey, who died Jan. 12.

Born July 28, 1909, in Chicago, Mary Hickey was one of 11 children of Benjamin and Loretta Hickey. Mary attended St. Joseph Grade School, Indianapolis, and graduated from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Academy.

“According to information from our Archives, Sister Mary actually entered the Congregation twice, the first time in February of 1926 when she was given the religious name Sister Gertrude Loyola. However, she was evidently sent home. She told a friend in later years that the mistress of novices told her to ‘go home and grow up’ because she could not stop crying. No doubt, she was lonesome for her family. At that time, she was 16 years old. She returned to the Congregation June 7, 1927. This time she stayed for almost 80 years!” said Sister Margaret.

Sister Mary professed first and perpetual vows Dec. 8, 1929, and Aug. 15, 1935, respectively. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.

“Sister Mary was very close to her family and delighted in visits with them. On at least one occasion it is said that they stayed up all night playing cards! Sister Mary also had six relatives who were Sisters of Providence, including her great-grand-aunt, Mother Anastasie Brown [general superior of the Congregation from 1868 to 1874] and her grand-aunt, Sister Mary Borromeo Brown, the author of the first volume of the history of our Congregation,” continued Sister Margaret.

A primary school teacher and principal, Sister Mary commenced teaching in 1930 at St. Augustine, Fort Wayne, Ind. Her other Indiana classrooms included St. Leonard, West Terre Haute; St. Patrick, Terre Haute; St. John, Vincennes; St. Patrick and St. Andrew, Indianapolis; and St. John the Baptist, Fort Wayne. In Chicago, she ministered at St. Columbkille, St. Sylvester, St. Mel, St. Leo and St. Mark. Sister Mary also taught in Maryland at St. Clement, Lansdowne, and Holy Redeemer, College Park.

“In 1979, Sister Mary began ministry at Simeon House, which is a ministry to the elderly in Terre Haute, Ind. She would be at the door of Owens Hall every morning promptly at 7, ready to go to Simeon House. Everyone there enjoyed her and her sense of humor. In 1993, she retired and ministered in the Phone Room in Owens Hall and later in Health Care Service, followed by prayer,” said Sister Margaret.

“Her sister friends were very important to her. Unfortunately, she seems to have outlived most of them. But one sister who visited her frequently in Mother Theodore Hall recalls how she would say, ‘Oh, please come back. I love your visits.’ She liked her privacy, to be able to sit in her room and look at the flowers outside, but she also liked to be with people,” continued Sister Margaret.

The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Mary was celebrated Jan. 17 with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She is survived by two sisters, Martha Dalton of Beech Grove, Ind., and Loretta Sweeney of Indianapolis, and two brothers, Russell of Beech Grove, Ind., and Joseph of Mequon, Wis.

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