Sister Eileen Clare Goetzen
“Who shall find a courageous woman? She is far more precious than jewels. She opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
The Word of God.
— A reading from the Book of Proverbs
Sister Eileen Clare lived the virtues described in this reading all of her life. She courageously remained on the west side of Chicago through the riots and the aftermath, because she wanted to support the people, especially the parishioners of Our Lady of Sorrows Church. After the gangs took over the convent, she and her friend Sister Frances, a Servite Sister, moved to Marillac House where they lived with the Daughters of Charity for five years. Then, the Servite Fathers added two apartments to their monastery, one for the Servite Sisters and one for the Sisters of Providence. While at Sorrows, Eileen taught religion to grades 3-6, and did parish work as well, managing the food pantry and also handling the Dollar-a-Month Club. If someone needed food at any time, she would get it for them, regardless of whether it was office hours or not. It was once said that she was so kind that she would give you the shirt off her back if you needed it, said Sister Ruth Ellen Doane in her commentary for Sister Eileen Clare Goetzen, who died Wednesday, July 26, 2017, at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. She was 94 years old and had been a Sister of Providence for 76 years.
Sister Ruth Ellen continued, “During her time on the west side, Eileen was robbed at gun point at least twice – by a man named June Bug. She was also robbed at knife-point on 86th Street, possibly while at Guerin High School. During one of those robberies, she told the thief, “Sir, I’m going to give you my purse so you won’t be guilty of robbery.” He looked at her in utter disbelief. When some teenaged boys told her, “This is a stick-up,” she replied, “Oh, for heaven’s sake!”
At Guerin, she was the Attendance Officer and did such a good job tracking down students that they called her Dick Tracy. She wrote that she always tried to be compassionate to the parents and all students.
Sister Eileen Clare Goetzen
Teacher for 40 years in schools in Indiana, Texas, Washington, D.C., and Illinois
In Indiana: Aspirancy, Motherhouse (1961-62); St. Agnes Academy, Indianapolis (1961-66).
In Illinois: St. Columbkille, Chicago (1955-57); Providence High School, Joliet (1958-61); Providence High School, Chicago (1966-69); Our Lady of Sorrows, Chicago (1969-83); Mother Theodore Guerin High School, River Grove (1983-2005).
In Texas: St. John, Robstown (1949-55);
In Washington, D.C.: St. Ann (1944-49).
Mary Jane Goetzen was born to Richard and Adeline Keefe Goetzen on March 8, 1923. She attended St. Genevieve Elementary School in Chicago and then Providence High School. She entered the Sisters of Providence Novitiate on July 22, 1941, receiving the name Sister Eileen Clare. She professed first vows on January 23, 1944, and final vows on August 15, 1949.
Eileen received a bachelor’s degree in social studies from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in 1962, and a master’s degree in education from Indiana University in 1970. She also spent two summers studying at Catholic University in Washington D.C. She taught elementary and high schools in Washington D.C., Texas, Illinois and Indiana. She was very loved and respected as a teacher. She was a great storyteller and kept all of us – and her students at times – entertained with stories of her unusual experiences.
Eileen felt a special bond with her niece Patti, and nephews (Dan?), Richard and Michael. Their mother, Adeline, died at a young age, leaving her husband, Dan, with three small children. Eileen and her mother helped out as much as they could. When her mother was dying, she asked Eileen to keep close contact with them. As long as she was able, she would, from time to time, travel to the farm in Michigan where they lived for a visit.
In addition to her family, Eileen loved Chicago, the people at Sorrows, and birds. She was so fascinated with birds that, here at the Woods, they didn’t move her room into health care until the bird cage had been moved. She named all the birds, and they would come to the front when she mentioned their names. Earlier, she had a pet parakeet, Oscar, who surprised her by laying an egg! She liked to sing with a group, as well as singing “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” with Sister Mary Rita Griffin. An excellent cook, she planned the meals at the convent at Guerin for years. No doubt they were served dill pickles from time to time. Eileen also enjoyed attending the concerts in Grant Park in the summer, and shopping, especially if she was purchasing a gift for her niece or for one of her nephews. Usually, she would take the gift back to Marshall Fields the next day, and then the day after that, until it felt right.
Above all, Eileen was hard-core Irish. She conveniently ignored the German part of her ancestry. She had an Irish wit and was fun to be with.
This delightful, kind, prayerful, woman went very peacefully home to her God on Wednesday. She ran a good race, kept the faith, and now there is a crown laid up for her in heaven. We shall miss her.
Funeral services for Sister Eileen Clare took place on Monday, July 31, and Tuesday, August 1, at the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
A Wake tool place from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., on Monday, July 31, with Vespers at 4:30 p.m.
Mass of Christian Burial took place at 11 a.m., on Tuesday, August 1.
We welcome you to share your memories of Sister Eileen Clare in the comment section below.
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