Sister Marian Elizabeth Moriarty
“Jesus said to his disciples, ‘You are the salt of the Earth. … You are the light of the world.’” (Matthew 5:13a, 14a)
“This Gospel reading from Matthew was used at the Eucharistic Liturgy the day after Sister Marian Elizabeth’s death and I immediately knew it would be appropriate for her wake service. ‘Salt’ and ‘light’ — two realities of our daily lives that are so much a part of our day that we hardly notice them, and yet, how important, and in the case of light, how essential to life. As I reflected on Sister Marian Elizabeth and the way she went about living, it was clear that even though she was not noticed by worldly standards with positions of prominence or awards or noted in ‘Who’s Who,’ her life definitely had a special flavor to it and that flavor persisted to age 93. Her lamp gave light to the whole house, the whole school, the whole Infirmary — all those places of her family, community and ministerial relationships,” said Sister Ann Casper in her commentary for Sister Marian Elizabeth Moriarty, who died June 9.
One of six children of James and Elizabeth (Condon) Moriarty, Elizabeth Agnes Moriarty was born July 29, 1914, in Cicero, Ill. She attended St. Peter Canisius Grade School and Providence High School, both in Chicago. She entered the Congregation Aug. 21, 1933, and professed first and perpetual vows Jan. 23, 1936, and 1941, respectively. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.
Sister Marian Elizabeth began a long ministry of teaching elementary-school students in 1936 at St. Francis Xavier, Wilmette, Ill. In Illinois, she ministered at St. Mark, St. Sylvester, St. Mel-Holy Ghost, Our Lady of Mercy and St. Francis Borgia, Chicago; and St. Joseph, Downers Grove. She taught several years at St. Patrick, Fort Wayne, Ind., and four years in California at Gardena-St. Anthony, Gardena, and St. Therese, Alhambra. After nearly 50 years in elementary school, Sister Marian Elizabeth ministered as a student service secretary at Mother Theodore Guerin High School, River Grove, Ill. She returned to the Woods in 1990 and volunteered in a variety of ways.
“As her fourth-grade pupil, I can personally attest to her teaching skills and to her kind ways with children. Years later as we former students talked about our teachers, Sister Marian Elizabeth was noted by all of us as a favorite. None of us could actually give a list of why she was; she just was. She was like salt and light in our young lives. And, with her customary sense of humor, she was quick to remind me that I was her pupil,” shared Sister Ann.
“Sisters who lived with Sister Marian Elizabeth speak of her as ‘bubbly,’ as being ‘so much fun,’ as a delightful storyteller and a ‘wicked’ card player. She loved to read, especially the Chicago diocesan newspaper, The New World, where she kept abreast of the happenings in her beloved Chicago,” continued Sister Ann.
“She treasured her family and was very devoted to her nieces and nephews and their children. If you were Sister Marian Elizabeth’s family member or friend she kept in touch, writing, calling, wanting to know about you and your life. Like salt and light, her presence was never overwhelming. You just knew that she was there and that you could count on her,” said Sister Ann.
“In April of this year, Sister Marian Elizabeth agreed to be interviewed for an oral history project conducted by students from Indiana State University. They wanted to hear the stories of people of faith and, in particular, of women religious. Sister Marian Elizabeth was very enthusiastic about participating and sharing her faith journey. I wonder if the young interviewer caught the flavor of this 93-year-old who lived for others, who seasoned her relationships — whether young, old or in-between — with the salt of attentiveness, interest and kindness. I wonder if the student sensed the Source of the light radiating from within this 93-year-old who, for 74 years as a woman religious, put the lamp of her life on a lamp stand where everyone she encountered could be guided by its brightness and experience its warmth.
“And so, Sister Marian Elizabeth, we thank you for being salt and for letting your light shine in our lives these 93 years. We have ‘seen your good deeds and we glorify God,’” concluded Sister Ann.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Marian Elizabeth was celebrated June 17, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She is survived by one sister, Patricia Tuglus of Largo, Fla.
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Sister Marian Elizabeth was very kind and sweet to my family when I was just a 5th grader at St. Mel-Holy Ghost grammar school. I remember when my little sister died, how Sister came down the street to our house and ministered to my grieving family. She told me not to worry and comforted me on the day that President Kennedy was killed. Every time I pass the school on the west side of Chicago (my parents still live down the street) I think of her. I have so many stories to share. She was like a mother to me. I wish I had spoken to her before she passed. I will always love and miss her.