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Sister Catherine (Catherine Ursula) Hayes

Sister Catherine Hayes

“I called upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.” (Wisdom 7:7b)

“This passage from the Book of Wisdom praises not so much what we know as academic knowledge, the learning found in books written by great scholars, though that has its contribution to make, but rather the wisdom that comes from prayer and leads to friendship with God. To live with this wisdom is not the effort of an hour or a year but the work of a lifetime. Such wisdom endures through the disappointments and hardships of life even into the darkness and pain of its final days. This wisdom the sister we remember today sought throughout her life,” began Sister Mary Roger Madden in her commentary for Sister Catherine Hayes, who died July 18.

Born Nov. 4, 1916, in Chicago, Catherine Ursula Hayes was the daughter of Maurice and Ursula (Booker) Hayes. One of six children, she attended grade school at Clarendon Hills Public School, Queen of Angels, Chicago, and St. Joan of Arc, Lisle, Ill. She graduated from secondary school at Marywood, Evanston, Ill.

She entered the Congregation Feb. 8, 1936, receiving the religious name Sister Catherine Ursula, and professed first and perpetual vows Aug. 15, 1938, and 1943, respectively. When she entered the Congregation, two family members were already Sisters of Providence: Sister Mary Basiline Booker, RIP, her mother’s sister, and Sister Xavier McCabe, RIP, a cousin. She received a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree in secondary education and administration and supervision at Loyola University, Los Angeles.

Sister Catherine began teaching in 1938 at St. Mary, Richmond, Ind. In Indiana, she also taught at St. Joseph, Jasper; Reitz Memorial High School, Evansville; St. Rose, Vincennes; and Chartrand High School, Indianapolis. In Illinois, her classrooms were at St. Athanasius, Evanston; and St. Genevieve, Chicago. She also taught at Marywood, Anaheim, Calif., and Immaculata College, Washington, D.C. From 1972 to 1977, Sister Catherine taught at Providence College, Taiwan. She ministered several years in a variety of capacities at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and also various Congregation positions. In 1987, she retired and volunteered in numerous ways at the motherhouse.

“Sister Catherine’s ministerial record reveals the breadth and depth of her gifts so freely given to the work of the Congregation,” said Sister Mary Roger.

“The past four years, as we who have lived with Sister Catherine know, have shown an increasing debilitation in her ability to continue her external labors. She never lost her sense of humor, an outstanding function of her intelligence, that recognized the incongruities of human behavior. As physical strength waned, her keen mind that made her such an excellent teacher and administrator turned to that inner life we saw reflected in the quiet peace of her countenance,” continued Sister Mary Roger.

“Sister Catherine was true to her heart’s choice in the dedicated labor of her extraordinary mind — God’s gift not only to her, but to all of us who knew and loved her. We are consoled as we recall the words of the Book of Wisdom: ‘God loves nothing so much as the one who lives with wisdom,’” concluded Sister Mary Roger.

The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Catherine was celebrated July 25 with the Rev. Bernard Head presiding. She is survived by two brothers, Edward of Slidell, La., and Robert of Cambridge, Md.

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