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Sister Jane Maher

Sister Jane Maher

“Jesus said, ‘Go therefore to others in the name of God: Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier. And remember I am with you always!’” (adapted Matthew 28:19-20)

“Today we celebrate the life of an extraordinary woman — Sister Jane Maher. She was born Dorothy Jane 87 years ago in Indianapolis to William and Ethel Fisher Maher, both Hoosiers. She had three siblings, all deceased now. Sister Jane’s mother died when she was in the sixth grade, and years later her father remarried so Sister Jane was gifted with a remarkable stepmother and two half-brothers and twin half-sisters. The families have remained close and have always realized the treasure they have in Sister Jane,” said Sister Mary Lou Ruck in her commentary for Sister Jane Maher, who died Nov. 28.

Born March 10, 1919, in Indianapolis, Sister Jane attended Cathedral Grade School and St. Agnes Academy, both in Indianapolis. She entered the Congregation Feb. 11, 1938, and professed first and perpetual vows Aug. 15, 1940, and 1946, respectively. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree in education from Indiana State University.

Sister Jane ministered with middle-grade students, beginning in 1940 at St. Francis Xavier, Wilmette, Ill. In Illinois, she also ministered at St. Mary Carmelite, Joliet; St. Leo and Maternity BVM, Chicago; St. Joseph, Galesburg; and Immaculate Conception, Norwood Park. For three years she taught in California at St. Ambrose, Hollywood, and St. Therese, Los Angeles. In Indiana, she ministered at Sacred Heart, Evansville; St. Joan of Arc, St. Bridget, St. Monica and St. Philip Neri, Indianapolis; St. Patrick, Terre Haute; St. John the Baptist, Whiting; and Our Lady of the Greenwood, Greenwood. After years of teaching, she served as the business officer for Providence Retirement Home, New Albany, Ind. She returned to the Woods in 1984 and ministered in various departments and as the provincial treasurer.

“Those of us gathered here know her as half-sister, aunt, great-aunt, teacher, principal, superior, business manager, provincial treasurer, accountant, band member, patient, sister and friend. We know her as gentle, loving, quiet — especially in a group — determined, peaceful and a wonderful listener. Sister Jane had the combined gifts of business skills and a pleasant attitude with people. However, Sister Jane did struggle with having to wait for just about anything: for a doctor’s appointment, for an aide to answer the call bell, for her God to come to her,” shared Sister Mary Lou.

“When we ran a summer school here at the Woods with undergraduate classes for our sisters, one of the most dreaded requirements was the class, Tests and Measurements. Then Sister Jane was named the teacher. Suddenly the dread was gone. She explained the material so clearly that everyone understood it,” continued Sister Mary Lou.

“In the 1960s, a time of renewal for women religious, we Sisters of Providence had many process sessions. Once our task was to team up with a second person and share our relationship with Jesus Christ. I was Sister Jane’s partner and she couldn’t find the words for her thoughts and feelings, but her face was radiant. Shortly before she died, I asked her what she was going to say when she met her mother in heaven. Sister Jane’s answer: ‘I don’t think about people there. I think of Christ!’ Yes, Jesus Christ, she knew you!

“Though Sister Jane was a very private person, she loved people. A good card player, she enjoyed even more than the game, the camaraderie. She loved her family and was delighted when she got an e-mail address that made communication with them easier. She loved this community, and she loved the children she taught so well. Yes, Holy Spirit, she knew you!

“Sister Jane loved nature. Her family was one of the first to gift our motherhouse grounds with a dogwood tree as a golden jubilee gift to her. And Sister Jane kept track of that tree! She also enjoyed the flowers and colors and critters in the Mother Theodore Hall courtyard. Yes, Creator God, she knew you!” concluded Sister Mary Lou.

The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Jane was celebrated Dec. 1 with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She is survived by her half-sisters, Irene Maher of Sarasota, Fla., and Norene Mara of Nashville, Ind. She is also survived by her half-brothers, Timothy and James Maher, both of Indianapolis.

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