Sister Mary Anselm Coppersmith
“Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)
“Sister Mary Anselm had this Scripture noted, probably with a desire to carry out its message. She was a good steward of God’s grace and used her gifts to serve others,” said Sister Betty Hopf in her commentary for Sister Mary Anselm Coppersmith, who died March 3.
One of seven children born to Sebastian and Clare (Lager) Coppersmith, Christina Gertrude Coppersmith was born Jan. 25, 1913, in Clyde, Mo. She attended St. Benedict Grade School, Clyde, and St. Patrick High School, Maryville, Mo. After working several years upon graduating from high school, Christina followed in the footsteps of three of her sisters — Sisters Scholastica, Mary Albertine and Mary Xavier — and entered the Congregation Feb. 11, 1937, receiving the name of Sister Mary Anselm. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree in education from Indiana University. She professed first and perpetual vows Aug. 15, 1939, and 1945, respectively.
Sister Mary Anselm commenced teaching in 1939 at St. Philip Neri, Indianapolis. In Indiana, she taught elementary or junior high or served as a principal at Holy Trinity and Holy Family, New Albany; St. Rose, Vincennes; Our Lady of the Greenwood, Greenwood; St. Joseph, Hammond; St. Patrick, Terre Haute; and St. Joan of Arc, Indianapolis. In Chicago, she ministered at St. Leo and St. Genevieve. She also spent three years at Ascension, Halethorpe, Md., and seven years at Our Lady of Providence, St. Louis.
In 1976, Sister Mary Anselm left the classroom but ministered in schools in other capacities. She served in the book store office at John F. Kennedy High School, Manchester, Mo.; as office clerk at Mother Theodore Guerin High School, River Grove, Ill.; as secretary at St. John the Baptist, Fort Wayne, Ind.; and in education service at St. Matthew School, Indianapolis. In 1991, she returned to the Woods and volunteered in several departments.
“Sister Mary Anselm kept a notebook with the names of all of her students between 1939 and 1976. She prayed for them and corresponded with many,” shared Sister Betty.
“If I had to use one word to describe Sister Mary Anselm’s personality the word would be ‘determined.’ Until her death, she was doing needlework, corresponding with her expansive number of friends and functioning as if she were 20 years younger. She was in her 80s when she learned how to use a phone card, how to do e-mail and how to drive an Amigo. She never stopped wanting to learn and to keep up with everything in the Congregation. She was an amazing lady!
“Sister Mary Anselm was also a card shark. Every Sunday, she played cards with Sisters Mary Eymard Campeggio, Grace Stewart and Marian Elizabeth Moriarty. It seemed like she would always win, so her friends suggested calling in the FBI to check into this,” continued Sister Betty.
“On a more serious side, Sister Mary Anselm was a very religious and deeply spiritual person who had great devotion to the Eucharist. Every day she could be found in church at least a half hour before Mass. She was always at the Rosary Group and any other prayer-type groups that were offered,” said Sister Betty.
“Patience and a joyful, non-complaining spirit were also among Sister Mary Anselm’s beautiful qualities. One always knew where they stood with her because she was outspoken and frank.
“Sister Mary Anselm will always be in our memories, and we have her beautiful Our Father handiwork piece that was hung outside of the Resource Center in 1999 to remind us of her. Many others have been gifted with the labor of her hands in all of her other beautiful needlework creations,” said Sister Betty.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Mary Anselm was celebrated March 8, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She was preceded in death by all her siblings. She is survived by a Sister of Providence niece, Sister Miriam Clare Stoll.
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