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Sister Marie Eleanor Shaw

Sister Marie Eleanor Shaw

“Jesus told his disciples this parable: ‘The reign of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.’” (Matthew 25:1)

“Sister Marie Eleanor Shaw died in the early hours of Aug. 27, the day this Gospel passage was read at the Eucharistic Liturgy later in the day. There is so much about the story of the ‘wise virgins’ that fits Sister Marie Eleanor’s life journey. Sister Marie Eleanor seemed always prepared,” said Sister Ann Casper in her commentary for Sister Marie Eleanor Shaw, who died Aug. 27.

“One could say the bridegroom was long in coming for Sister Marie Eleanor. She waited patiently into her 94th year of life and her 77th year as a Sister of Providence. We can only surmise that when the bridegroom came for her, she was awake and ready to meet him, her lamp full of the oil of her good works, dedication, faithfulness and love,” continued Sister Ann.

One of five children of Harry and Marie (Dawson) Shaw, Irene Mary Shaw entered this world Feb. 27, 1916, in Chicago. She attended St. Viator Grade School and Providence High School, both in Chicago. She entered the Congregation Aug. 22, 1933, and professed first and perpetual vows Jan. 23, 1936, and 1942, respectively. Sister Marie Eleanor earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree in education from Indiana State University.

For more than five decades, Sister Marie Eleanor ministered in education either as a teacher or an administrator. She began teaching in 1936 at Annunciation in Brazil, Ind.

Her other ministries in Indiana included St. Joseph, Jasper; St. John the Baptist, Fort Wayne; St. Anthony, Indianapolis; and St. John the Baptist, Whiting. Sister Marie Eleanor also spent time on both coasts at Holy Redeemer, Berwyn, Md., and St. Rose, Chelsea, Mass., as well as St. Joseph, Hawthorne, Calif. In Chicago she ministered at Our Lady of Sorrows, St. Columbkille, St. Mark, Our Lady of Mercy, St. Agnes and St. Francis Borgia. Sister Marie Eleanor returned to the Woods in 1993 and provided community service.

“Sister Marie Eleanor loved to travel, especially to shrines, going by bus to several in the United States and Canada. She delighted in making a trip to the Holy Land, a long-held dream fulfilled. Her sister-companion, who planned the trip as they went, remembers it well, marveling at Sister Marie Eleanor’s patience and acceptance when plans did not exactly work out — ‘she took everything in stride.’ The same traveling duo celebrated the bicentennial year by attending celebrations in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and the Eucharistic Congress in New York,” said Sister Ann.

“The staff members in Mother Theodore Hall especially appreciated her sense of humor, calling her very funny and quick-witted — a joy to be around. One aide said it well, ‘She was a real sweetheart.’ She knew which activities she wanted to attend and would tell them when she had no interest. She especially loved bingo and kept the caller on her toes if she were going too slowly; she always showed up for parties,” shared Sister Ann.

“As we know, Sister Marie Eleanor suffered from a neck injury, which caused her head to be turned sharply to one side. It was a condition that she lived with for more than 50 years and one for which she sought relief, always to no avail. Focusing on reading material and eating and doing ordinary tasks must have been very challenging for her. There are several ‘stories’ about the cause of her injury, but no one seems to know for sure. Some notes she left as autobiography made no mention of it. However, she did leave us a great example of peacefully accepting physical limitation and not complaining or feeling sorry for oneself or having a physical challenge curtail living life to the full.

“Sister Marie Eleanor, the seasoned traveler, must have delighted in her final journey when she welcomed the bridegroom and found that she was heaven-bound to the eternal wedding feast. I like to picture her walking that final journey erect, head held high and delighting in the presence of the one she served so faithfully, so long and so well,” concluded Sister Ann.

The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Marie Eleanor was celebrated Sept. 2, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She was preceded in death by all of her siblings.

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