Sister Luke Crawford
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same God; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
1 Corinthians 12: 4-7
For each of us, life has memorable moments – times of great joy or sorrow, of amazement and wonder – moments which cause us to look with special attention at what we often take for granted. A friend’s death, Luke’s death, is one such moment. To follow her path of ministry sharply reminds us of the work of the Spirit, in Luke, yes, but in each of us, said Sister Nancy Reynolds in her prepared commentary for Sister Luke Crawford, who died Friday, April 25, at Union Hospital, Terre Haute, at the age of 88.
Kathryn Ann Crawford was born into a prominent Terre Haute, Ind., family on Nov. 6, 1925. She was the fifth and youngest child born to Frank J., and Cecilia P. Crawford.
Sister Luke attended St. Margaret Mary Elementary School, Central Catholic High School, both in Terre Haute, and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, graduating in 1947 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She later earned a master’s degree in English in 1961 from the University of Notre Dame.
On July 22, 1948, Sister Luke entered the Sisters of Providence and was received into the Novitiate on Jan. 23, 1949. Her first profession was Jan. 23, 1951, and her final profession was Jan. 23, 1956.
Sister Luke’s early years in the congregation were spent in high school teaching. In 1956, she taught eighth-grade at St. Philip Neri, Indianapolis, but immediately moved back to teaching high school. She taught at Our Lady of Providence, Clarksville; Washington Catholic, Washington; Central Catholic High School, Fort Wayne, and then moved to Washington, D.C., to teach at Immaculata Junior College, which began her career in the college ranks. She was Dean of Students and later Director of Admissions at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. She also taught at Mother Theodore Guerin High School, River Grove, Ill.
There was a deeply contemplative side to Sister Luke, and she spent two years at the House of Prayer started by the congregation in the former rectory of St. Mary-of-the-Woods Village Church. She spent the next two years working at Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis until she was elected as a provincial council member for Sacred Heart Province.
After serving seven years on the provincial team, she worked as a lobbyist in the state legislature for the Indiana Catholic Conference.
In 1985, Sister Luke left Indiana for a ministry as the Director of Communications for the newly established Diocese of Venice, Fla., and she served as editor of the Florida Catholic diocesan newspaper.
She also spent nine years as the public information officer of Senior Friendship Centers, Inc., Sarasota, Fla., before beginning her ministry at St. Michael’s Church, Sarasota, Fla., where she served as director of religious education, assistant coordinator for parish ministries, and coordinator of outreach.
In 2008, Sister Luke returned to St. Mary’s and served as a visitor in health care before beginning the ministry of prayer in Providence Health Care, Inc.
Sister Luke loved her family. During her years in Florida, she decided she was going to write a book about them. She titled the book, “1605, Parenting at its best.” That is a good book to read to find out all you ever wanted to know about Sister Luke. She never forgot the manners and courtesies she learned from her parents. She was always a gracious, polite and courteous person. One of the manifestations of these early learnings was when she was showing a visitor out when she was living at a nursing facility in Indianapolis, Sister Luke would always say, “Thank you for coming.”
Sister Luke’s siblings, Jean, Cecilia, Clem and Frank, all preceded her in death.
Although baptized Kathryn Ann, she was always known as Ann. In her later years while in the hospital, she was listed as Kathryn Ann. There was some confusion when Father Dan Hopcus went to the hospital to anoint her and he was told there was no Luke Crawford. They had a Crawford, but the attendant was sure that was not the one Father Dan wanted because Luke was assumed to be a male. After a little while, Father Dan found our Sister Luke and was able to anoint her prior to her death.
Sister Luke is described as having a wonderful community spirit. She was attentive to the members of her community, especially the older sisters. She was also quite a jokester. For example, the dining room of the ancient convent in Washington, Ind., had a mysterious door built high up on the wall – reaching the ceiling. With the help of an accomplice, Sister Luke climbed up there – waited there until the community was assembled – at which point she flung open the door and yelled, “Happy Feast!”
Everyone knows that Sister Luke loved dogs. Some of us will remember the Collie, Corporal. Possibly he belonged to Sister Luke’s sister, Jean, but most of us thought he was Sister Luke’s. She left Corporal behind when she moved to Florida. On one occasion, when she returned for a visit to the Woods, she asked Sister Alexa to drive with her to Illinois – presumably. When they turned into a country road, Alexa asked, “Where are you going?”
“The dog! To see Corporal, of course,” was Sister Luke’s response.
Another dog story comes from the time Sister Luke spent in Indianapolis at the Harrison Terrace Nursing Home. She had regular visitors while she was there. Sister Cathy Campbell went on Tuesdays. Sister Susan Dinnin went on Sundays. I went every week to 10 days and the three Dede sisters, Sisters Eileen, Mary Mark and Kathleen, went every Thursday. They always brought their dog for Sister Luke to enjoy.
The Dede sisters organized a birthday party each of the two years Sister Luke was there and on Nov. 6, 2012, when she walked into the birthday room, she looked at them and said, “Where’s the dog?”
That let all of us know where we stood and who was the most important. You can bet your life that the dog was there for the 2013 birthday party.
When Sister Luke was in the hospital in Indianapolis, the nurse tried to rouse her and since she was not responding, the nurse gave her a little pinch on the arm. When Sister Luke did not rouse, the nurse pinched her again. Suddenly, without opening her eyes or moving, Sister Luke came out strong with, “Stop pinching me (expletive)!” The nurse and I could only laugh.
Sister Luke was her own wonderful person at all times. She was comfortable with herself and a free spirit. She had her distinctive characteristics. If we think just for a minute now, we can see her walking the campus with her red hat and trench coat. That red hat was Sister Luke.
Last Monday, when the nurses were getting her ready for surgery, she was not responding, mainly, I think, because she could not hear. One nurse was working to put an IV in her arm and the other nurse was asking questions in order to fill out a form. She asked Sister Luke if she was having any pain. Just at the point, the nurse put the needle in the back of her hand and Sister Luke responded, “Not until just now.”
Sister Luke has not been herself for a couple of years now as her body and mind began to fail her. She never forgot her manners she learned at 1605 S. Center Street. She always thanked her visitors for coming to see her.
When the end came, Sister Luke went very peacefully home to God. There was no struggle. She is now with her beloved family and friends and enjoying eternal life.
We thank you, Sister Luke, for gracing our lives with your presence.
Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Luke Crawford was Tuesday, April 29, 2014, in the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
We welcome you to share your memories of Sister Luke in the comments section below.
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