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Sister Frances Finnegan

Sister Frances Finnegan

“Consider, I entreat you, that death sports with human calculations. … Let us always have in hand our lamps burning, that we may not be surprised.” (Saint Mother Theodore Guerin)

“I can imagine Sister Frances hearing these words with great peace and saying, ‘I am ready.’ She was deeply prayerful, totally committed to her life as a religious, seeking and willing always to do what God wanted her to do,” said Sister Jeanne Knoerle in her commentary for Sister Frances Finnegan, who died June 23.

The oldest of 10 children of Walter and Arlie (LeaQuee) Finnegan, Frances Marie Finnegan was born July 8, 1916, in Washburn, Wis. She attended Puffer Grade School, Belmont, Ill., and Downers Grove (Ill.) Community High School. She entered the Congregation Feb. 2, 1940, and received the religious name Sister Mary Donald. She professed first and perpetual vows Aug. 15, 1942, and 1948, respectively. Sister Frances earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree in elementary education from Illinois State University.

An upper elementary-school teacher, Sister Frances commenced teaching at Sacred Heart, Evansville, in 1942. Her other Indiana classrooms included St. Charles, Peru; St. John Grade School and St. Andrew, Indianapolis; and St. Joseph, Hammond. In Illinois she ministered at St. Mel-Holy Ghost, St. Andrew, Maternity BVM and St. Agnes, Chicago; and St. Joseph, Downers Grove. She spent two years at Blessed Sacrament, Burlington, N.C. From 1979 to 1988, Sister Frances ministered as assistant treasurer of St. Joseph Province, Park Ridge, Ill.

“She had a wonderful sabbatical at Gonzaga University where I think she found a sense of confidence and enjoyment. That time away included a marvelous pilgrimage to the Holy Land, to Athens, to Jerusalem, to Galilee and to Rome — and even a night in Copenhagen. Her enthusiasm for the experiences of that year, and especially her continuing interest in and love for her former students and for her family, are things I believe all of us will remember about Sister Frances,” said Sister Jeanne.

After this sabbatical year, Sister Frances ministered nine years in the library at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.

“During the years when she was employed in the college library, Sister Frances lived with us at the Woodland Inn. All of us remember her as willing, but usually hesitant, to contribute her artistic talent to whatever project she was involved in. Her sense of humility left her with very little pride in her considerable artistic ability. So she usually began with a demurrer that she really didn’t think she ‘could do it well enough’ or ‘you ought to ask someone who can probably do it better’ or ‘I’m not sure I can do it right.’ However, when she finished doing it — whatever it was — it was always beautiful. I think it would be impossible for Sister Frances to have done anything that was not as perfect as she could make it,” continued Sister Jeanne.

The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Frances was celebrated July 14, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. Surviving her are four sisters, Elaine Rogers, Weed, Calif.; Dorothy Smolen, Washburn, Wis.; Patricia Bateman, Albuquerque, N.M.; and Jeanne Camden, Glendale, Ariz.; and one brother, Brother James, OFM, of Sherman, Ill.

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