Sister Catherine Ellen Joy
“I long to see you again, which will fill me with joy.” (2 Timothy 1:4)
“I thank my God whenever I think of you and every time I pray for you, I pray with joy.” (Philippians 1:4)
“How do these passages relate to Sister Catherine Ellen Joy? If we have joy in our heart we will exhibit love, kindness, generosity, gentleness, quietness, orderliness, compassion. These are the qualities that were expressed to me by those who knew Sister Catherine Ellen,” said Sister Mary Pat Peacock in her commentary for Sister Catherine Ellen Joy, who died April 14, 2008.
“I believe that Sister Catherine Ellen had that inner joy. It did not always show on her countenance, but it was in her heart. You did see it when she smiled. That was a beautiful smile, almost saying, ‘I love you. You are important to me,’” continued Sister Mary Pat.
“Just very recently I heard this remark: ‘Joy is infallibly the sign of God’s presence.’ Certainly Sister Catherine Ellen lived in the presence of God.
“Of course, suffering and sorrow often invade our joyous spirit. This was not foreign to Sister Catherine Ellen. There were times of suffering and sorrow in her life of 90 years. But she was Sister Catherine Ellen JOY,” said Sister Mary Pat.
Helen Veronica Joy and her twin, Julia, were born Feb. 7, 1918, in Chicago to John and Julia (Weir) Joy. Julia died shortly after birth.
“Sister Catherine Ellen had told many sisters, not only now, but throughout her life, that she was longing to get to heaven to meet her twin sister, Julia, whom she never knew,” shared Sister Mary Pat.
Sister Catherine Ellen also had two other siblings. She attended Maternity BVM, Chicago, and Providence Juniorate, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. She entered the Congregation Jan. 11, 1936, and professed first and perpetual vows Aug. 15, 1938, and 1944, respectively. Sister Catherine Ellen earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.
Sister Catherine Ellen’s first classroom was at Assumption, Evansville, Ind. In Indiana, she also ministered at St. John, Loogootee; St. Patrick, Terre Haute; and St. Joseph, Jasper. In Illinois she served at St. Andrew, St. Genevieve, St. Angela and Immaculate Conception, Chicago; St. Athanasius, Evanston; and Immaculate Conception, Norwood Park. In 1986, Sister Catherine Ellen retired and returned to the Woods, serving on the Pastoral Care team in the Infirmary. She also ministered several years in the Resource Center in Providence Hall.
“One of Sister Catherine Ellen’s talents was her string art. How and when she began this beautiful work, I was not able to find out, but she surely mastered the art. In some of the schools where she ministered she taught the children how to do this meticulous procedure. Several years ago Sister Catherine Ellen was delighted — full of joy — that her work was recognized by a display of her art pieces. She was able to demonstrate to other sisters the ‘how to’ of her work. Sister Catherine Ellen had done a series of pieces on Mother Theodore’s life,” shared Sister Mary Pat.
“In her quiet way, Sister Catherine Ellen had that joy, joy, joy deep down in her heart. We can recall St. Peter’s words: ‘There is cause for rejoicing here’ — she has gone to God and now her suffering of many trials is over. She is now giving praise, glory and honor to Jesus in person,” said Sister Mary Pat.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Catherine Ellen was celebrated April 22, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She was preceded in death by all of her siblings.
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