Sister Mary Richard Griffith
“Jesus called his disciples together and said to them: ‘You know how among the Gentiles those who seem to exercise authority lord it over them: their great ones make their importance felt.’” (Mark 10:42)
“Can you in your wildest imagination see Sister Mary Richard as ‘lording it over anyone’ or ‘making her authority felt?’ I think not! Her greatness did indeed involve being a servant,” said Sister Ann Casper in her commentary for Sister Mary Richard Griffith, who died Oct. 18.
Born Mary Catherine Griffith on March 16, 1915, in Fort Wayne, Ind., she was one of eight children of Lauren and Theresa (O’Neil) Griffith. She attended public school before graduating from St. Jude Grade School and St. Augustine Academy, both in Fort Wayne. She entered the Congregation July 19, 1934, and professed first and perpetual vows Jan. 23, 1937, and Aug. 15, 1942, respectively. Sister Mary Richard earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.
For four decades, Sister Mary Richard ministered in education as either a teacher, principal or clerical assistant. She commenced teaching in 1937 at Our Lady of Mercy, Chicago. In Illinois, her classrooms also included St. Mel, St. Genevieve and St. Angela, Chicago; and St. Mary Carmelite, Joliet. In Indiana, she ministered at All Saints, Hammond; Cathedral Grade School, St. Andrew, St. Philip Neri, St. Joan of Arc and Ladywood-St. Agnes, Indianapolis; and St. Patrick, St. Jude and Central Catholic High School, Fort Wayne. Sister Mary Richard spent one year at Sacred Heart, Malden, Mass. She also spent several years in Missouri at Our Lady of Providence, St. Louis, and John F. Kennedy High School, Manchester.
From 1978 to 1981, Sister Mary Richard returned to the Woods and ministered on the general administration staff. For seven years, she served as the business manager and bookkeeper of Our Lady of Loretto Parish, Los Angeles. Considered “retired,” Sister Mary Richard spent four years providing parish service for St. Elisabeth, Van Nuys, Calif. She returned to the Woods in 1992 and provided volunteer service in various offices of the motherhouse, including several years with the Mission Advancement office.
“Sister Mary Richard’s love and kindness certainly extended to her family,” continued Sister Ann. “She thoroughly enjoyed the time she spent visiting in Fort Wayne and at the lakeside cottage with her siblings and their children.
“Sister Mary Richard had an artistic and a musical side to her. She loved oil painting and also enjoyed painting delicate flowers on china. She made many pieces of jewelry — earrings, brooches and pendants — which were sold in The Gift Shop at Providence Center — if they made it that far and were not given away or sold from her bedroom ‘studio.’ She mastered the violin and often played duets with Sister Jackie Hoffman, so you know she was good! She loved to sing and often hummed tunes while going from place to place,” said Sister Ann.
“Many have spoken of enjoying her humor and dry wit. She was always very quiet and reminded me many times that she was the only introvert in the family, saying that the rest of you were all outgoing and — I think the word was ‘boisterous.’ Of course, that term is relative! Sister Mary Richard was so laid back and unflappable that any show of excitement would seem boisterous by comparison! I never saw her ruffled or out of sorts; she always had a pleasant, even disposition and that gentle, sweet smile,” said Sister Ann.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Mary Richard was celebrated Oct. 21, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She is survived by her sister, Virginia Hannum, of Fort Wayne, and three brothers, James and Donald of Fort Wayne and Laurence of Syracuse, Ind.
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