Sister Catherine Sienna Wire
“Be glad in the Creator, rejoice in Love Divine!” (from Jan C. Merrill’s “Psalms for Praying,” Psalm 149)
“This Psalm seems to fit Sister Catherine Sienna very well. I’m sure she is now glad in her Creator, rejoicing in Love Divine and praising God with dancing,” said Sister Rita Clare Gerardot in her commentary for Sister Catherine Sienna Wire, who died Oct. 28.
Helen Wire was born Dec. 13, 1911, in Decatur, Ill., to William and Nellie (O’Keefe) Wire. She was one of seven children. She attended St. Catherine Grade School and St. John Academy, both in Indianapolis. She graduated from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Academy.
Entering the Congregation Aug. 23, 1928, she received the religious name Sister Catherine Sienna. She professed first and perpetual vows Feb. 24, 1931, and Aug. 15, 1936, respectively. Sister Catherine Sienna earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.
Sister Catherine Sienna spent more than 50 years in education. She began her pedagogical ministry in Chicago at St. Genevieve in 1931. In Illinois, her other classrooms included St. Agnes, Our Lady of Mercy and St. David, Chicago; St. Athanasius, Evanston; St. Joseph, Galesburg; and St. Francis Xavier, Wilmette. In Indiana, she ministered at St. Catherine, Fort Wayne, and St. Anthony, St. Joan of Arc, Immaculate Heart and St. Jude, Indianapolis. She also spent one year at St. Ann, Washington, D.C., and four years at St. Joseph, Hawthorne, Calif. After retiring in the mid-1980s, Sister Catherine Sienna provided community service at St. Jude. She returned to the Woods in 1989.
“The psalmist reminds us to ‘praise the Holy One with dancing.’ Sister Catherine Sienna did this well as she loved to dance and to teach others to kick up their heels. Many of her students were taught the Hokey-Pokey and folk dances. Even after moving into Health Care, she loved to move her legs and feet even while wearing heavy braces on her legs. Speaking of those braces, I never heard her complain about them!” said Sister Rita Clare.
“Anyone who lived with Sister Catherine Sienna knew she was a very good teacher, and a strict one, but also one who loved a good time. I had the privilege of living with her from 1959 to 1965 in Wilmette. In 1959, she started the school year with 66 eighth graders. In February Sister Ann Margaret O’Hara arrived, so we were able to split the class with Sister Catherine Sienna taking the boys in her home room and Sister Ann Margaret the girls. She reminded Sister Ann Margaret more than once that she taught her all she knew. Another beginning teacher, Sister Joan Matthews, was helped by Sister Catherine Sienna,” continued Sister Rita Clare.
“Sister Catherine Sienna loved to roller skate and was always among the first to pin up her habit and put on the skates. Her tall, lanky frame with veil billowing out behind her was a joy to behold. Luckily she never broke any bones while careening joyously around the gym floor at St. Francis Xavier.
“Sister Catherine Sienna endeared herself to all who cared for her on Mother Theodore East — Sister Betty Donoghue, the nurses, aides, activity director and others involved in her care. She was quick with her quips! During these last months of her declining health, they have missed her quick wit and spirited remarks, especially, ‘Oh, fiddlesticks!’ That old spark they loved so much was gone, and it saddened them,” said Sister Rita Clare.
“Sister Catherine Sienna, during the 96 years of your ordinary life and your 80 years as a Sister of Providence, you have praised your Provident God with joy, laughter, praying, dancing, singing and teaching extraordinarily well and have made all who have known you better and happier. Thank you, Sister Catherine Sienna!
“As Ecclesiastes reminds us, ‘There is an appointed time for everything … a time to mourn and a time to dance.’ Your time of mourning and suffering are over, Sister Catherine Sienna. You have now entered into the dance of eternity!” concluded Sister Rita Clare.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Catherine Sienna was celebrated Oct. 31, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She was preceded in death by all of her siblings, including Sister Ann Gabriel Wire, SP.
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