Sister Florence Marie Maxwell
“And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience.” (1 Thessalonians 5:12)
“This scripture, it seems, is appropriate for the day. And I can almost hear Sister Florence Marie quoting it to us,” read Sister Joyce Brophy from a commentary for Sister Florence Marie Maxwell that was written by Sister Ruth Johnson. Sister Florence Marie died June 30.
Florence Maxwell was born on Feb. 11, 1928, in Joliet, Ill., to George and Rose (Vertin) Maxwell. She had one brother and one sister. She attended St. Patrick Grade School and Providence High School, both in Joliet. She entered the Congregation July 21, 1946, and professed first and perpetual vows Jan. 23, 1949, and Aug. 15, 1954, respectively. Sister Florence Marie earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.
Sister Florence Marie commenced teaching in 1949 at Cathedral Grade School, Indianapolis. In Indiana, she also ministered at Assumption Grade School, Evansville. She spent one year at St. Therese, Los Angeles. Most of her years of teaching were spent in Illinois at Maternity BVM, St. Mel and St. Andrew, Chicago; St. Joseph, Downers Grove; St. Joseph and Costa Catholic, Galesburg; St. Joseph, Joliet; and St. Dennis, Lockport. Upon her retirement from teaching, Sister Florence Marie gave convent and school service in River Grove, Ill. She returned to the Woods in 2010.
“Sister Florence Marie was a somewhat shy and retiring person in that if she had to speak in front of a group, she would try to find someone she thought would do a better job than she. This was also an indication of her humility,” shared Sister Joyce.
Sister Joyce noted that others indicated “she was a great teacher, so neat and organized and well-prepared. She loved the younger children and would often surprise and delight them by ‘magically’ becoming Mrs. McGillicutty, a woman with a big hat and a changed voice who would read to them in a fun way. She was a good disciplinarian, yet her threats were only about ‘lashes with a wet noodle.’ This symbol became so well known that one class presented her with a long, yellow piece of Styrofoam which would float in a pool. It represented her wet noodle,” continued Sister Joyce.
“While at St. Dennis, Sister Florence Marie taught her students the SP-version Grace Before Meals so by the time her third-graders reached eighth-grade, practically the whole school was saying it,” said Sister Joyce.
“Sister Florence Marie was a loving and compassionate woman who would light up when she heard of someone’s accomplishments and tear up when she heard of people’s troubles.
“She was intensely interested in the lives of her sister, brother and their spouses and families. She would share news about them and her beloved Joliet,” Sister Joyce said.
“Sister Florence Marie and Sister Lois Ann Stoiber shared their golden jubilee celebration at St. Dennis in Lockport, Ill. There, in a packed church, she saw a glimmer of how much she was appreciated by the school families and parishioners,” said Sister Joyce.
“In her last years of convent service at Guerin Convent in River Grove, Ill., she answered phones, did sacristy work, passed the mail and picked up lost coins from the parking lot!
“Sister Florence Marie valued the many loving relationships she made throughout her life and kept in touch with many friends by letter writing and phone calls. This was always part of her ministry,” continued Sister Joyce.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Florence Marie was celebrated July 9, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. Sister Florence Marie is survived by her sister, Lorraine Martis, of Leesburg, Fla.
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