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Sister Mary Esther Larkin

Sister Mary Esther Larkin

“‘Come and see,’ Jesus answered.” (John 1:39)

“This vignette from the Gospel of John (1:35-40), short though it is and confined to the events of a single day, sums up the life and vocation of Sister Mary Esther. The story is marked by a casual air: John watches Jesus passing by and makes a brief remark to his disciples, who follow him probably with nothing definite in mind. Surprised by Jesus’ confronting them, they blurt out an unexpected question: ‘Where do you live?’ ‘Come and see,’ Jesus responds. And they go to the place where he lodged and spent the day with him — until four o’clock, we are told. What did they talk about? What did they learn? The rest is silence; yet we are given hints about this mysterious person, Jesus: he is named Lamb of God, Rabbi, Messiah, each with a wealth of meaning for the one who, like the disciples or Sister Mary Esther, comes to see and who remains,” said Sister Alexa Suelzer in her commentary for Sister Mary Esther Larkin, who died Dec. 1.

Alice Muriel Larkin came into this world Aug. 29, 1914, in Loogootee, Ind. William and Mary (Walker) Larkin had seven children. She was educated at St. John grade and high schools in Loogootee, “where doubtless she first heard the stirrings of her religious vocation to ‘come and see,’” continued Sister Alexa. “Undoubtedly she also felt the influence of several aunts who were Sisters of Providence: Sisters Mary Angelica Larkin (RIP), Joseph Anna Larkin (RIP) and Eileen Walker (RIP). Possibly Sister Mary Esther later influenced her cousin, Sister Francis Borgia Van Hoy (RIP).”

Sister Mary Esther entered the Congregation Aug. 15, 1932, and professed first and perpetual vows Jan. 23, 1935, and Aug. 15, 1940. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.

Sister Mary Esther commenced teaching in 1935 at Immaculate Conception, Norwood Park, Ill. In Illinois, she also ministered at St. Agnes, Chicago, and St. Mary, Aurora. In Indiana, her pedagogical ministry took her to St. Ignatius, Lafayette; St. John the Baptist, Whiting; St. Charles, Bloomington; St. John, Newburgh; St. Simon, Washington; Holy Trinity, New Albany; Holy Family, Jasper; St. Michael, Greenfield; and St. Simon and Immaculate Heart of Mary, Indianapolis. She ministered two years at the motherhouse in the greenhouse and as a nurses’ aide and receptionist. She returned to the school environment in 1983 and served as a librarian and tutor at St. Patrick, Fort Wayne, Ind., and St. Lawrence, Indianapolis. She returned to the Woods in 1989 and volunteered in several areas.

“Sister Mary Esther was known to be an excellent teacher, spontaneous, but always organized and well prepared. A former student from the 1950s wrote to her after a recent class reunion, ‘You had no favorite pupils, but you were our favorite teacher,’” shared Sister Alexa.

“The Gospel portion just read tells us that the disciples ‘saw the place where Jesus lodged.’ In Sister Mary Esther’s case, that place was Indiana and Illinois. From a human standpoint it seems regrettable that Sister Mary Esther did not have the enriching experience of being missioned to other parts of the country, but for her, providentially, she found ‘the place where Jesus lodged’ in the seven dioceses of Indiana and Illinois,” continued Sister Alexa.

The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Mary Esther was celebrated Dec. 5, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She is survived by three sisters Martha Keith, Punta Gorda, Fla.; Dorothy Williams, Loogootee, Ind.; and Mary Pat Thompson, Largo, Fla.

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