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.
At this time, our site contains all Sisters of Providence obituaries beginning in 2009.
Looking for a sister?
Find her here! Photos, articles, obituaries of sisters you have known and loved.
I really liked Sr. Luke but we were a little afraid of her at times. I remember she had a little stool in the front of class that she occasionally stood on when she wanted to be seen. She was shorter than most of us. She commanded respect and she was a great and fair teacher. Wish the teachers today had her skills. When she was in Washington Sister Mary Pious was our principal. What a gem she was as well. I am a graduate of Washington Catholic High 1956.
Sister Luke was my hero and champion. She advocated, prayed for, counseled, and cherished my children and myself. We suffered a painful divorce and extreme financial hardship. Sister Luke affirmed my meager faith efforts with her wise words, example, and action. We saw a saint in action-here on Earth-and now I KNOW she is blessed to walk in heaven. So many thanks to God for sending her here to us. I cannot imagine her “resting in peace”… I sense she is using her super powers now- hand in hand with Jesus -to help our prayers be answered.
She did inspire fear and respect. When my children did readings at Mass- she made CERTAIN they pronounced each and every syllable correctly.
My encounter with Sister Luke occurred at Mother Guerin High School. She arrived my junior year. My senior year I took a film appreciation class which she taught. In that class I learned some of her “forbidden” words such as too and very. She was adamant that they were weak and useless. She also organized a trip to New York for a student film festival. What a great adventure. She also encouraged me to choose The Woods over a college in Chicago. She was Director of Admissions when I started my freshman year at the Woods so we could continue our relationship. I remember her as always being in a hurry.
She could put the fear of God in you, but her intentions were the best.
Our family, the O’Connell’s, have known Sister Luke since the late 1940s. My aunt, Sister Mary Olive, offen spoke very highly of her when my Grandparents, M J & Blanche O’Connell, and I visit with Sister Mary Olive at Saint Mary of the Woods. Sister Luke became a very good friend with Sister Mary Olive sister, my aunt, Blanche O’Connell and they did a lot of traveling together. One of my aunt Blanche favorates trips with Sister Luke was thier trip in 1998 to France and to the Vatican for Mother Theodore Guerin, Beatification. Durning that trip my Aunt Blanche was so proud that the Sister Luke and the Sisters of Providence asked her to be one of those, to receive Holy Communiom from Pope John Paul. One of my foundest memories of Sister Luke was when Sister Luke was in Florida, my Aunt Blanche would come down for a couple of months each winter, and my wife Kathy, son Joel, and I would visit the both of them, spending much time on the beach flying kites.
I knew Sr Luke at St Michael’s in Sarasita and had the privilege of working with her in ministry. What a great friend and sister in Christ. We maintained contact over the years until she things got the better of her. She was a friend and spiritual mentor and I am deey saddened by her passing.
Sister Luke didn’t grade your writing. She shredded it like a machine gun. Her red pen slashed your neatly typed journalism assignment until there was nothing left but your name and JMJ on top. We learned early that even invoking the Holy Family would not spare you if your writing was not up to Sister Luke’s standards. High school juniors and seniors, the know-it-alls of the world, quaked and blessed themselves before entering her classroom to turn in their articles.
We obsessed over our writing, double and triple checking it to be sure the lead was attention getting, that our facts were solid, and the progression logical. God forbid you inadvertently used any of her five forbidden words. Not like George Carlin’s forbidden word list, her verboten list included the five most meaningless words in the universe. From senior year to senior citizen, a span of nearly fifty years, I still cannot use the words “it”, “thing”, “quite”, “very” or” interesting” in my writing. These words were the proverbial third rail. Touch them and you were fried.
She cared. No, she was driven. Her passion was writing — YOUR writing. She was fixated on making all of us better writers. Sloppy, half-hearted, vague or lazy submissions provoked her well-deserved wrath, and were often crumpled and cast in the general direction of a wastebasket. Then you wrote it again. And again. And again, until she deemed it worthy of publication.
She knew us; knew who was capable of better. She demanded it and got it. Her name was not Sister Lukewarm.
Not that she remembered our names. 2/3 of our class was “Gwendolyn”, because remembering names only slowed her down. My name is Marianne, but she only knew me as Monica for some reason. (I used that to my advantage in class whenever she called on me and I didn’t know the answer. The real Monica, sitting several rows over, would pop up and confess she didn’t know the answer, while I hid my eyes behind my hand, ignoring Sister Luke’s steely glare boring in on ME. It was the ONLY way I could every get anything over on Sister Luke.)
She had one pace — staccato. Jousting with Sister Luke was like double Dutch jump rope. You’d better just duck your head, jump in and step lively. In its own terrifying way, it was exciting, challenging and fun. It made you grow up and realize the world was not going to say, “That’s all right, dear. You did your best.” You knew darn well you hadn’t and it wasn’t going to be good enough for Sister Luke. On the other hand, there was no better feeling in the world then to hear Sister Luke say, “Monica, this is more like it. Not bad at all. Let’s publish it.”
Her passing this year caused me to reflect seriously on my sixteen years of Catholic education. Sister Luke only taught at Guerin for a year or two in her long career in education but I was fortunate to be in the small group of Guerin grads who were in her classes and bound by her legacy. Her class was a rite of passage in our lives. We can distinguish our writing as BL and AL (Before Luke and After Luke… and there WAS a difference.)
We were blessed by her presence and permanently marked by her passion for excellence. Though we were all Gwendolyns or Monicas, we knew she loved us and we loved her. How lucky we were to have known her.
Marianne Porter Noble, MTGHS ‘68
4-15-2017. I am 73 yrs of age. I thought of Sister Luke today, googled her, and found this great tribute. I was in one of her classes at CCHS in Fort Wayne, Indiane circa 1960. She was indeed special. I never feared her, but I did respect her. She was bright, quick, and unintimidated. She took no prisoners. I had been a pain in the arse for teachers in prior years and was just coming out of it when I ran into to Luke. She never put me down, took me to task — and, made me better for it. Although not really difficult, my life was arduous for most of it — at least that is my pitiful excuse for not keeping up withe several great people in my life that were as great as Luke. I stared, like so many others, with little. I am not wealthy by any means but have done well thanks to the influence and help from Sister Luke and a few other special peeps. Thank you, Sister Luke, RIP.
Sister Luke taught film studies/appreciation at Mother Guerin High School. I loved her class and remember her fondly to this day. She passed on her passion for film to her students. What a gift we received. Thank you Sister Luke.
Mary Ann Randazzo Dowrick