Sister Louise Schroeder (formerly Sister Edward Louise)
No one who knew her will be surprised to learn that Sister Louise Schroeder requested the first reading of this Mass, in which Paul reminds us that “Love is patient, love is kind.” For these are the qualities for which we will remember her. And she also embodied the qualities she once recommended to us all: “To accept yourself – gratefully; be yourself – truthfully; trust yourself – confidently; give yourself, enthusiastically; express yourself – radiantly,” said Sister Janet Gilligan in her commentary for Sister Louise Schroeder, formerly Sister Edward Louise, who died Saturday, January 19, 2019, at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. She was 93 years old and had been a Sister of Providence for 76 years.
Sister Janet continued: Margaret Ann Schroeder was born in 1925, on November 4, to Theresa Reyling Schroeder and Edward Schroeder in Jasper, Indiana. An older brother, Joseph, died in infancy, and her sisters Calista (Sunny), Pearl, Helen, and Bernadine preceded her in death, as did her only brother, Roman. One older sister, Mary Catherine, now Sister Marie David, is with us here today. Many of her nieces and nephews and their children have also joined us to remember and celebrate Sister Louise’s life.
Margaret, who came to be known as Marky, attended St. Joseph School in Jasper. She later claimed that “The example and dedication of my grade school teachers at Saint Joseph’s – after my mother’s inspiration – influenced my decision to become a Sister of Providence.” One of these sisters was Sister Bernard Therese, a happy, caring, prayerful woman who put the desire to become a Sister of Providence in Marky’s heart. Many years later, at the 75th anniversary of her entrance into the community, Sister Louise said, “Through my grade school and high school years, I admired the patience, kindness, and loving care of the sisters – never dreamed of the vocation for me! Until I read or heard, ‘Do not be afraid – all things are possible with God.’”
When she was 14, she joined her older sister Mary Catherine in Providence Juniorate at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. She entered the Sisters of Providence in 1943, taking the name Sister Edward Louise. She professed first vows in 1945 and final vows in 1950. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in 1963, and a master’s degree in education from Indiana State University in 1969.
For 40 years, Sister Edward Louise taught primary grades, at seven schools in Indiana, four schools in Illinois, and two schools in California. Ten of those years were spent in her hometown of Jasper. Those who worked with her remember her as a wonderful teacher. Her students always seemed to be happy. She had excellent discipline because she treated her students with great respect, and they respected her in return. During those years, although she and her sister were never on the same mission, Sister Marie David remembers that they were always together but not quite together – often working in nearby ministries.
Everywhere she ministered, Sister Louise seemed to have embodied the characteristics of the Sisters of Providence that had drawn her to the Congregation: Patience, kindness, and loving care. When, after serving there for 85 years, the Sisters of Providence left the school of Saint John the Baptist in Whiting, Indiana, where Sister Louise had taught from 1975 to 1986, she promised a continuation of love and prayers for the people of God at St. John’s from the Sisters of Providence, and the Congregation responded with a standing ovation.
In 1991, she realized it was time for her to retire from teaching, knowing God would provide her with a new ministry. “I left myself open to whatever jobs were available or where I was needed.” She came to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods and worked in the Transportation Office, arranging transportation and companions for sisters in health care. She also worked in the Mail Room and Phone Room and served as treasurer for the sisters in health care from 1997 to 2003, and for the sisters in Lourdes from 2003 until 2015. Of her work with her sisters at Saint Mary’s, she said “We are a blessing to each other!”
During the last 15 years of her life, Sister Louise struggled with serious illness. She fought for a long time and the staff and doctors who cared for her loved and respected her. Although she accepted her illness courageously, she had a strong desire to live and to continue to serve. She never ceased being concerned about others, and she was always gentle and kind. In 2011, she moved to Lourdes Hall and had to give up her many ministries – “I truly miss them,” she said – but she served as treasurer for the sisters in Lourdes Hall until 2015.
She is remembered as a gentle, loving person with a delightful sense of humor. She always had a twinkle in her eye; she was always kind, concerned about people, easy to get along with, and nice to be around. She was patient in her dealings with others and generous with her energy and talents. When she worked with sisters in health care, she was always considerate of their needs, very patient, most helpful, and never annoyed or upset.
In an article for a community magazine in 1985, Sister Louise wrote: “Values are caught, not taught. As a religious teacher, I feel a very real responsibility to be a witness of joy, happiness and goodness. Sometimes it takes courage and generosity to respond to the needs of others, but the challenge to help build God’s kingdom and spread his message is ours! My philosophy? Life is a precious gift to each of us – a short time – to bring to the fullest the fruits of the seeds of hope and love implanted in our souls and the souls of those entrusted to us in our teaching profession. When the good Lord calls us to ‘give an account of our stewardship,’ we want no regrets.”
We can be assured that as Sister Louise Schroeder is called to give an account of her stewardship, she will have no regrets. For we can testify that for her whole life, she has given witness to joy, goodness, generosity, and courage, and to the unconditional love of the God who now calls her to her eternal reward.
Funeral services for Sister Louise took place on Thursday, January 24, at the Church of the Immaculate Conception.
Memorial contributions in Sister Louise’s honor may be made to the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
We welcome you to share your memories of Sister Louise in the comment section below.
Sister Louise Schroeder, formerly Sister Edward Louise
Teacher for 46 years in schools in Indiana, Illinois and California.
In Indiana: Sacred Heart, Evansville (1954-56); St. John the Baptist, Fort Wayne (1956-59); St. Joan of Arc, Indianapolis (1959-62); St. Joseph, Jasper (1965-69); Holy Family, Jasper (1969-71); Precious Blood, Jasper (1971-75); St. John the Baptist, Whiting (1975-86).
In Illinois: St. Andrew, Chicago (1945-48); St. Joseph, Galesburg (1948-50); Maternity BVM, Chicago (1962-65); Immaculate Conception, Chicago (1988-91).
In California: St. Therese, Alhambra (1950-51); St. Joseph, Hawthorne (1951-54); St. Elizabeth, Van Nuys (1986-88).
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