Sister Laura Ann McLaughlin
“By the grace given to me I tell everyone among you not to think of him or herself more highly than one ought to think, but to think seriously, each according to the measure of faith that God has apportioned. For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another.”
— A reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans
How fortunate we are to have had Laura Ann McLaughlin with us for these past 53 years. The reading that was chosen for her wake service tells us that “we are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another.” Laura is part of us and will remain so. How blessed we are to have her with us still, said Sister Patty Fillenwarth in her commentary for Sister Laura Ann McLaughlin, who died Dec. 26, 2014, in New Jersey. She was 74 years old and had been a Sister of Providence for 53 years.
Sister Laura Ann McLaughlin came into this world on Nov. 2, 1940, to the joy and happiness of her mother, Margaret Crimens McLaughlin and her father, Anthony McLaughlin.
Laura had two brothers, Joey, who was old, and David, who is younger. She had one cousin, Tom Tracey and his wife Connie, who were also like a brother and a sister to her. Tommy and his wife Connie had three children who have always been like nieces and nephews to Laura.
Both parents, and Joey and Tom have preceded her in death.
Her brother David lives in Florida and her cousin Connie and family live in the Boston area. We extend our sympathy to all of her family and friends, especially Sisters Marikay Duffy and Therese Whitsett, who loved her much and who were with her when she went to God.
In addition to her Sisters of Providence family, Laura had her Emmaus House family. We were happy to welcome three members of the staff of Emmaus with us: Program Director Peg Conlon, and staff members Sandy Butler and Pam Quirk. We also extend our condolences to them and to the entire Emmaus community. We know that Laura was loved and respected there and she was certainly appreciated for her generous and faithful service.
Laura was baptized Elizabeth Ann at St. Polycarp Church, Somerville, Massachusetts. It was there that she attended elementary school and then went on to graduate from St. Rose High School, Chelsea, Massachusetts, in 1959. Betty entered the community on Sept. 18, 1961, and she received the name Sister Laura Ann. She made her first profession on Aug. 15, 1964, and her final profession on Aug. 15, 1969.
Laura was educated in the Community, as so many of us were, as a teacher. She received her bachelor of arts in education in 1966 from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College and her master’s degree in education from the University of Illinois in 1980.
Laura’s first mission was as a teacher at St. Ann’s in Washington, D.C., where she worked for two years, and then she went to Blessed Sacrament School, Burlington, North Carolina, for two years. Following this, she went to Lima, Peru, to study Spanish and then to Colegio San Jose in Arequipa, Peru, to teach for five years.
Her next step was to Emmanuel College in Boston, where she received an MSW in Clinical Pastoral Counseling in 1987. She returned to Indianapolis and worked for three years in the Counseling Department and as Dean of Students at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis. Following this, Laura went to Emmaus House in New Jersey, where she ministered until the present time. She lived and loved it there for 26 years, working as a counselor and staff member in this treatment center for women religious.
It was my great good fortune to have lived with Laura three different times in her life with us as a Sister of Providence: In Washington, D.C., in Arequipa, Peru, and at Maternity BVM in Chicago. All three times were unplanned and turned out to be a blessing for us both.
As a teacher, Laura was wonderful. She always taught kindergarten or primary grades. Her classroom was always a happy place and children learned from her teaching and from her example. I visited her at Emmaus various times and it was quite obvious that she loved what she did there, and she did it very well. Laura always loved her students, her patients, her clients – wherever she was and whatever she did with them.
I feel so happy that I knew Laura. She was compassionate, patient, generous, prayerful and so, so funny. When you went some place with Laura, there were many things you could count on: She always had to finish one thing more before you could leave; You would leave late and in a rush; you would have at least one deep philosophical conversation such as the meaning of life or the value of change; she had a built-in GPS system and she never got lost; and you would laugh and laugh and come home happier than when you left.
Laura had so many gifts. She was artistic and creative; she was thoughtful and intuitive; she was intelligent and capable in so many areas; she was very giving and forgiving. And she shared these gifts with an open and happy heart.
Laura had many ailments over the years. Probably not many of us knew the extent of the seriousness of any of them and that they were gradually worsening. She was always the same and always more concerned about the person with whom she was with. Knowing Laura, it is probably better that she died as she did, right on God’s schedule, because she would never have been able to get ready to do it on time.
Laura lived in peace and now she rests in peace. We will miss her, our old friend, but we bless you as you go with the angels to live and rest in peace. Go and be with God.
A Vesper wake service for Sister Laura Ann took place at 4:30 p.m., Friday, Jan. 2, 2015, in the Church of the Immaculate Conception.
Mass of Christian Burial was at 11 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015.
We welcome you to share your memories of Sister Laura Ann in the comments section below.