Sister Charlotte Bruck
“Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.” (Matthew 1:18)
“You may wonder at the choice of this reading, usually associated with Christmas. Sister Charlotte once noted on a spiritual profile that the Holy Family was the most influential person in her religious development. A source of hope and strength, these approachable figures introduced her to the heart of Christian life: the profound mystery of the Incarnation. Further she looked to the Holy Family as a model in her role as parental counselor. Sister Charlotte said she first became aware of God’s presence when as a child she wakened from a severe case of scarlet fever. And much later she was convinced that an almost fatal car accident made her even more aware of the presence of God in every aspect of her life,” said Sister Alexa Suelzer in her commentary for Sister Charlotte Bruck, who died Oct. 28.
Muriel Eileen Bruck entered this world Sept. 30, 1917, in Peru, Ind., to Nicholas and Mary (Springman) Bruck. She was the youngest of three children. She attended St. Peter Grade School and St. Catherine Academy, both in Fort Wayne, Ind. Sister Charlotte entered the Congregation July 22, 1937, and received the religious name Sister Charlotte Marie. She professed first and perpetual vows Jan. 23, 1940, and 1946, respectively. Sister Charlotte earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree in guidance counseling from Marquette University.
Sister Charlotte began teaching in 1940 at St. Mel, Chicago. In Chicago she also ministered at Maternity BVM and St. Andrew. In Indiana, her classrooms were at St. Rose, Vincennes; St. John the Baptist, Whiting; St. Simon, Washington; St. Joan of Arc, Indianapolis; and St. Jude and St. John the Baptist, Fort Wayne. Sister Charlotte’s ministry focus changed in 1968 when she began ministering in guidance services.
“As a pioneer in the field of elementary guidance, Sister Charlotte developed a widely used series of books, ‘Discovery through Guidance.’ Being involved with writing books was somewhat unusual in the Community at the time, and her work occasioned misunderstanding and pain for Sister Charlotte. In 1968 she moved from teaching to full-time counseling and writing at the diocesan office in Fort Wayne. Subsequently, she moved to the diocesan office in Orlando, Fla., where she served for 10 years, chiefly in the office of education, always continuing her role of counselor, writer and lecturer,” said Sister Alexa.
“In 1981 a severe car accident in Florida resulted in life-threatening injuries. Her recovery was slow, and at 64 she was never able to return fully to the work she loved, although she briefly retained some private practice,” continued Sister Alexa.
In 1986, Sister Charlotte returned to the Woods and volunteered in art services. According to Sister Alexa, “Sister Charlotte had no professional training in art, but she painted easily and was one of best calligraphers in the Community.”
“I was a classmate of Sister Charlotte in high school, but our paths did not cross often in the Community. However, some years ago she entrusted to me a letter from Sister Mary Pius Regnier [general superior from 1966-1976]. She instructed me: ‘This is the best ‘eulogy’ I could have; so I want you to see that it’s part of the vesper commentary,’” shared Sister Alexa.
“Sister Mary Pius wrote birthday greetings to Charlotte on a Thanksgiving Day card (lettered by Sister Charlotte). I quote: ‘When I consider how God has ordered your life, this Thanksgiving Day card seems very appropriate. Your work at Marquette, in Fort Wayne and Florida all prompt a heartfelt ‘Thanks be to God.’ Then there was your tragic accident, along with the providential presence of a very skilled doctor who helped you recover in so very many areas. And if it were only for your years of teaching and counseling, this card would be fitting. But as a Sister of Providence you have also given loving service, working for justice and peace. And so on your birthday, I greet you with, ‘Thanks be to God,’” read Sister Alexa.
“Today let us echo that prayer of thanksgiving as we commend Sister Charlotte to God and let us rejoice that she now lives ever in God’s presence,” concluded Sister Alexa.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Charlotte was celebrated Nov. 3, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She was preceded in death by both of her siblings, Joseph and Sister Mary Carol Bruck, SP.
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