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Sister Maureen Loonam

Sister Maureen Loonam

“God is faithful, and it is he who called you to fellowship with his son, Jesus Christ the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:9)

“This scripture passage was Sister Maureen Loonam’s favorite passage, and how well it sums up the many blessings and gifts she has received as she walked the Providence journey! How does one do justice to a life of such stature as Sister Maureen’s?” asked Sister Catherine Livers in her commentary for Sister Maureen Loonam, who died May 21.

Entering this world June 1, 1916, near the Canadian border in Freeport, Minn., Genevieve Marie Loonam was one of four children of Bernard and Ann (Schmutte) Loonam. The family later moved to Indianapolis where the children attended Cathedral Grade School. Genevieve attended secondary school at St. Agnes Academy, Indianapolis. There she met Sister Colette Wolf, “who had great influence on her life both spiritually and academically,” said Sister Catherine.

Sister Maureen entered the Congregation Feb. 10, 1934, and professed first and perpetual vows Aug. 15, 1936, and 1941, respectively. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree in education administration from Purdue University.

Sister Maureen commenced teaching upper elementary classes in 1936 at Sacred Heart, Evansville, Ind. In the Hoosier state, she either taught or served as principal at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Lafayette; St. Joseph, Jasper; and St. Simon, Indianapolis. She also spent six years at St. Agnes, Chicago.

“Sister Maureen was a kind and understanding principal, but she demanded excellence from those under her care. Consequently, many young sisters were sent to benefit from her training. How many sisters I have heard telling Sister Maureen that she was the best principal they ever had!” shared Sister Catherine.

After a sabbatical in 1976-1977 at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., Sister Maureen was asked to direct the Summer Institute at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. “She was responsible for engaging the finest speakers from around the country in the areas of spirituality, theology, psychology and, of course, the latest methods in education. Sisters from other congregations were invited to come and profited as much as we did, not only by the updating, but also the relationships that were formed. They were truly Camelot summers. Leading programs such as this can be tiring and sometimes wearying. Sister Ann Marie Boyce, who worked with her during the summer, said that Sister Maureen was always so grateful and a gracious lady,” continued Sister Catherine.

“During this time, Sister Maureen also began the Sports Camp for youngsters after the Summer Institute ended. It brought happy voices and hearts to the campus and was very successful,” said Sister Catherine.

From 1986 to 1989, Sister Maureen ministered in the library at the college. From 1989 to 2007, she served as the coordinator of the Sisters of Providence Resource Center. Additionally, she found time to visit prisoners at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind.

“One of the bright spots in these years was the visits of her niece Maureen and her husband, Stephen Baca of Albuquerque, N.M.  Her niece told me that Sister Maureen had been an important part of her life as long as she could remember. Maureen’s earliest memories are visiting her aunt in Lafayette, Ind., surrounded by the tallest women she had ever seen, all dressed in black. How happy Sister Maureen was when her niece told her that she wanted to become a Providence Associate!” shared Sister Catherine.

The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Maureen was celebrated May 25, with the Rev. Joseph Kern presiding. She was preceded in death by all her siblings. She is survived by several nieces and nephews, including Providence Associate Maureen Baca.

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