Sister Lourdes Kline
“O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth: human beings – mortals for whom you care, the heavens – the moon and the stars, sheep and oxen, the beasts of the field, the birds of the air and the fish of the sea, and whatever passes along the paths of the seas … How majestic is your name in all the earth!
— Psalm 8 (adapted: The psalm translation is from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition: Lectio Divina Edition, New York: Paulist Press, 2008)
Sister Lourdes grew up on a farm which her father managed in Kensington, Maryland, for a distinguished Maryland family, the Sauls. She loved all creation; the fruits of the earth, and as our Constitutions say (18), she strove “to make the best use of things” to the delight of others, said Sister Marian Brady in her commentary of Sister Lourdes Kline, who died Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. She was 95 years old and had been a Sister of Providence for 74 years.
So we visited farms and picked berries which she turned into jelly for Christmas gifts. In her eyes, her ministry was to make others happy, to serve them in the best way she could, whether it was in a classroom or an office, in preparing a meal, or providing homemade Christmas gifts to benefactors.
God gifted her with a long life which she filled by doing this.
She had many talents. One was how to fix things. In her later years, she suffered from several debilitating diminishments, none of which caused her to retire. After she entered assisted living in Lourdes Hall in September 2014, she begged for something to do – a ministry. While she was hoping for this, God suddenly took her home.
She has three nephews in Maryland, all octogenarians, who with their wives would like very much to be here with us today. Bernard and Hilda Poss, James and Del Kline, and Eugene and Jeanie Kline. They deeply regret that they are unable to join us.
Sister Lourdes had a conflict between growing older and growing old. She had no control over growing older – no one does. But she was constantly saying to me mischievously, “don’t grow old,” as if it is under one’s control. Perhaps it is, somewhat. She tried her best not to grow old, but I think she realized she was losing control over that, and she was not happy about it.
Sister Lourdes and her twin brother were the youngest of the five children of Augustus Michael and Anna Margaret (Mulligan) Kline. Born in Kensington, Maryland, on Feb. 5, 1919, the twins were baptized Caroline and Carroll in Holy Redeemer Church, Kensington, a rural area north of Washington, D.C. Sister Lourdes was pre-deceased by her parents and all her siblings: Bernard J., Marguerite, Catherine and Carroll.
She loved many aspects of living on a farm. Her father made butter, which he sold in the area. As a young child, she helped him deliver it on Saturdays along with eggs. She told of Sunday dinners, which included homemade ice cream and a wonderful cake, which her mother made for family gatherings.
Caroline and Carroll walked to the public school they attended, not too far away. Caroline loved school. She was interested in learning about many things. She developed a love of poetry and her teachers encouraged her to memorize poems of English and American authors. Her elementary school principal recognized her talent for memorizing, and opened school assemblies with a poem recited by Caroline.
During her elementary school years, she learned to sew and made some of her own dresses. In later years in community, she made herself a wool coat and suits, all lined. She also learned all kinds of needle work. She could tat, crochet, knit and embroider and shared what she made with others, hoping to please them.
At the beginning of her senior year in high school, her class had the distinction of being the first to move into and graduate from a brand new Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School building and campus, one of the best high schools in Montgomery County, Maryland.
Then, she attended Immaculata Junior College and met the Sisters of Providence. Especially dear to her was Sister Mary Borromeo Brown, the author of the first volume of the History of the Sisters of Providence. She was the dean of the junior college, and that was where Sister Lourdes’ vocation was born.
After graduating in 1938, she attended Trinity College in Washington, D.C., for a year and then worked as a secretary in a law firm until she was 21. She entered our Congregation on Feb. 10, 1940, at the Maryhurst Novitiate in Hyattsville, Maryland, and soon was given the name Sister Lourdes.
Her mother wasn’t too happy about Caroline becoming a sister and hoped she would leave, but Sister Lourdes trusted in Providence, and persevered.
Her sister Catherine drove her to Maryhurst on Feb. 10, about 20 miles away. She loved being at Maryhurst, and it was also a farm.
She professed perpetual vows at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods on Aug. 15, 1948. That same year, she graduated from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. For a number of years, she ministered in our sponsored high schools across the country. Among them were Marywood, Anaheim, California; Providence High School, Chicago; Marywood, Evanston, Illinois; and at other high schools in Galesburg, Illinois, and Fort Wayne. She loved to teach math.
She earned a master’s degree in education from St. Louis University and also spent summers at a variety of colleges and universities to become certified to teach home economics.
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College was her place of ministry beginning in 1964. She was part of the college’s secondary education department for a year and then was appointed Registrar in 1966, a position she had for 11 years.
Her life as a Sister of Providence came full circle in the 1970s. She became my administrative assistant at Immaculata College of Washington, which closed at the end of 1978.
When Immaculata Preparatory School and Dunblane School closed in 1986, Sister Lourdes had the job of clearing out the main building where our sisters had served for 80 years. Our local community dispersed to wherever they could find a ministry. Monsignor William Curlin, who was pastor at Nativity Church in Washington, told Sister Lourdes he had a job for her. She she went to work for him and that job evolved to working at Nativity Catholic Academy as administrative assistant to the principal, which she was for a number of years.
As time went on and she grew older, she was not able to do all she wanted to do. Her disabling diminishments disheartened her, especially being deaf even with the best of hearing aids. A week before she came home, I asked her if she would like to receive the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick; she said she did. When I asked our pastor, he came that very Sunday afternoon. it seemed to fortify her.
When she came home, she was still looking for something to do – a ministry. She apparently waited long enough when God suddenly called her to His home. I like to think God had a ministry for her in heaven.
May our Provident God grant you eternal joy and peace.
Funeral services for Sister Lourdes were Thursday, Jan. 8, and Friday, Jan. 9, in the Church of the Immaculate Conception.
A wake took place from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., on Thursday, Jan. 8, with Vespers at 4:30 p.m.
Mass of Christian burial was at 11 a.m., Friday, Jan. 9.
We welcome you to share your memories of Sister Lourdes in the comments section below.
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