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Sister Mary Adrian Jaroch

A reading from Matthew 11-28

Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

And from the (original) Perpetual Calendar of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, Oct. 3 (the morning Mary Adrian died)

“Thus does life pass, now calm, now agitated, but at last the end is attained. Happy, ah, thrice happy are they who can look forward to the eternal future with calm and confidence, who can throw themselves with love into the bosom of God, the center of felicity!”

Both readings seem appropriate with which to begin this commentary on the life of Sister Mary Adrian Jaroch, which seemed to fluctuate between calm and agitation; who seemed to carry burdens whose origins were unknown to many of us, her sisters, said Sister Ann Casper in her commentary for Sister Mary Adrian Jaroch, who passed away on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019, at Winfield, Illinois. She was 85 years old and had been a Sister of Providence for 63 years.

Sister Ann continued: It seems that as life came to an end for Sister Mary Adrian, calm won out, as is evident from this memory shared by General Officer Sister Jeanne Hagelskamp:

“Mary Adrian certainly experienced some difficult health challenges throughout her life, and especially during the past three years. She wanted to stay in the Chicago area since that’s where her friends were. A couple of weeks ago, as she began to fail rather quickly, her health care representative, Sister Betty Smigla and I, went to ask her what her desire was: To move to a hospice facility on the north side closer to friends, to stay where she was, or to come home to the Woods. She indicated she wanted to come home to the Woods. As we left Winfield Woods Healthcare that day, she gave us the biggest smile I think I have ever seen on her face.

“Providence Healthcare and hospice were in the process of preparing for the move when we got word that her condition had taken a dramatic turn for the worse and that a transfer was not advised. I was so sad that she didn’t make it home in her last days … but I am consoled that now she IS home here at the Woods, where we celebrate her new life in her REAL home, in the arms of her God who has always loved her and will continue to love her unconditionally forever and ever.”

And personally, to my way of thinking, Mary Adrian received the next best thing to coming to the Woods, having Mother Theodore (whose Woods these are) come for her in the early morning of her feast day!

Bernadette Marie Jaroch was born April 8, 1934, in Chicago to Stanley and Margaret Koroleski Jaroch. Sister Mary Adrian is survived by a sister, Patricia Maher, of Oak Park, Illinois, who wanted very much to be here but could not make the trip because of poor health, and nieces and nephews, some of whom are here. She is preceded in death by three brothers: Norbert, Eugene and Stanley, and a sister, Mary Banner.

Bernadette attended St. Andrew Grade School and St. Michael Center for high school, both in Chicago, and graduated from the latter in 1952. Bernadette entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence on July 1, 1956, received the name Sister Mary Adrian, and professed first and perpetual vows on August 15, 1958 and 1963, respectively.

Sister Mary Adrian Jaroch

She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and in 1974, a nursing degree from St. Joseph Hospital in Joliet, Illinois. During her 63 years as a Sister of Providence, she ministered as a teacher for seven years in schools in Indiana. As a registered nurse, she served mostly in Illinois, and for a number of years, at our Motherhouse infirmary, as well as in hospice care in Connecticut and Cook County, Illinois. She had various roles as a nurse: School nurse, nursing supervisor, geriatric nurse, hospice nurse, director of nursing, nurse educator and nurse consultant. After her retirement from active nursing, she continued serving sisters in the Chicago area who needed care when they were ill and served in St. Zachary Parish in Des Plaines for many years as visitor and Communion Minister to the Sick. In 2017, she herself became a health care resident and dedicated herself to the ministry of prayer.

Sister Jeanne Hagelskamp came to know Sister Mary Adrian as a novice, some 43 years ago.

“When I was a novice, I often worked in the infirmary on weekends and was almost always assigned to the fourth floor, where Sister Mary Adrian was supervisor. Not having worked in a healthcare facility before, I was definitely a neophyte. I appreciated that Sister Mary Adrian always took the time to show me exactly how something should be done, so that I could deliver the best possible care to the patients and provide patient notes that were concise yet accurate. I learned so much about healthcare during that year. It was a real blessing of the year to work closely with Sister Mary Adrian and to have the opportunity to experience her at her best … her dry wit, her compassion to patients, and her kindness and gratitude to me for helping out.”

Brother Matthew Zemel of the Society of the Divine Word, who has been a friend for 30-plus years and is with us today, spoke of Mary Adrian’s ministry at their health care residence in the late 1980s.

“If a nursing employee could not come to work because of car trouble, Mary Adrian would go and get the individual and bring them to work. If the weather was bad outside, let us say snow, she would come to work to make sure that someone was here to take care of the elder members of my community. One of my older members liked a beer and burger, and she would take him out and treat him to that once a month,” Brother Matthew said.

The sisters who lived with Mary Adrian at Guerin recall her as looking forward to the weekends – a nice dinner, an occasional trip to the casino. Her favorite dessert on such occasions was a flaming cherries jubilee. She was also proud of her Polish heritage and celebrated it with others when she could. Our Polish General Superior, Sister Dawn Tomaszewski, often greeted Mary Adrian with the three words she knew in Polish.

As a very early riser, Mary Adrian would make the morning coffee for the house. One former sister-housemate recalled getting up earlier than usual (for her), going to the fairly dark kitchen and heading toward the automatic coffee maker, the kind that could accommodate a pot on the top burner and another pot, usually, the fresher of the two, on the bottom burner. The sister, not quite awake, reached for the bottom pot only to have Mary Adrian’s voice boom from the darkness. “Take it from the top pot!”

Sister Mary Adrian Jaroch chats with Sister Lisa Stallings.

If nothing else, Mary Adrian liked to take control of any situation that were her responsibility, and, on occasion, a few that were not. She also kept her own persona “controlled and well-guarded,” so much so that many sisters, especially, feel that they really did not know her. I would have to count myself among them, even though I entered the Congregation with her 63 years ago. As I wrote this commentary and heard people’s memories, not really knowing Mary Adrian as her friends and family knew her, is definitely my and our loss.

Persons to whom she ministered in hospice care in Connecticut years ago knew her as a kind and loving presence. An article in her file included these comments. “I am writing (Hospice) to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking care of my grandmother, Etta Rose . … Please tell Sister Mary Adrian we send love and thanks. My grandmother was Catholic and sister made my grandmother’s day very happy. …” As one man wrote to Mary Adrian, “Your compassion and your strength helped me live through Helen’s last few hours far better than I could have managed alone. … I know that I received no more than you give so generously to others, but I felt your concern concentrated on me. I am grateful. …”

Brother Matthew also shared information about Mary Adrian’s hospice ministry. “She worked as a hospice nurse in Connecticut and to this day she and a family there have remained very close. The wife told me ‘she is considered a member of our family.’”

Brother Matthew continued, “She also worked as a hospice nurse in Cook County, and had a patient whom she would visit in his apartment. One day she received a call to go to his home; the man was dying. When she arrived, she was surprised to find Cardinal Bernardin there, visiting the man and comforting him. Shortly after Mary Adrian arrived, the gentleman died.”

Mary Adrian was a faithful friend to many and formed long-lasting friendships. One particular friend had this to say when told of her passing: “I cannot tell you how this breaks my heart. She was such a special person to me.” Here with us today is Bernadine Reckert, who has been Mary Adrian’s friend for 75 years and Father Dan Coughlin, another life-long friend, whom she taught in first grade.

Mary Adrian now has been reunited with her parents, siblings and friends who have gone before her. She now knows the fullness of God’s love. May she indeed rest in peace and finally enjoy health and find wholeness.

Funeral services for Sister Mary Adrian took place on Wednesday, Oct. 9, and Thursday, Oct. 10, at the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

We welcome you to share your memories of Sister Mary Adrian in the comment section below.

Memorial contributions in Sister Mary Adrian’s honor may be made to the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

Sister Mary Adrian Jaroch

Complete Ministry

In Indiana: Teacher, Good Shepherd, Evansville (1960-61); Teacher, St. Catherine, Indianapolis (1961-67); Infirmary Staff, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (1967-70); Infirmary RN, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (1976-78); Foster Parent/Nurse Educator, Providence Self-Sufficiency Ministries, New Albany (1995-96).

In Illinois: Nursing, Mercy Center, Aurora (1974-75); Nursing, Maryhaven, Glenview (1978-79); RN, Whitehall North, Deerfield (1979-81); RN, Edward Hospital, Naperville (1981-83); Geriatric Nurse, Whitehall North, Deerfield (1986-88); Director of Health Care, Divine Word Residence, Techny (1989-91); Home Hospice Nurse, VNA North, Evanston (1991-92); Nursing Supervisor, Colonial Manor, La Grange (1992-93); Nursing Supervisor, Plymouth Place, La Grange (1993); Nursing Supervisor, Chateau Village, Willowbrook (1993-94); Nurse Consultant, Chicago (1996-97); Wellness Center Nurse, Brighton Gardens, Prospect Heights (1997-98); Staff Nurse, New Perspective, Wheeling (1998-2000); Staff Nurse, Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital, Hoffman Estates (2000-02); Ministry of Care/Convent Service, River Grove (2002-2015); Convent Service, Mother Theodore Guerin Convent, River Grove (2015-17); Prayer, Winfield (2017).

In Washington, D.C.: School Nurse, Immaculata (1975-76).

In Connecticut: RN/Hospice, Connecticut Hospice, Branford (1982-86).

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  1. Nora O’Gorman on October 4, 2019 at 9:04 pm

    Sister Mary will be greatly missed by the staff and residents at Winfield Woods Healthcare. May she Rest In Peace with the angels.

  2. Larry Maher and Kathy Gibbons on October 4, 2019 at 11:10 pm

    We wish to extend our condolences and let you know that she is in our prayers. She has cared for many people throughout her life. May they remember her now.

  3. Julia Jaroch on October 6, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    Sister Mary Adrian was also my beloved Aunt Bernie. She was my Father’s youngest sibling and he and our Mother remained close to Sister throughout their lives. I treasure the memories of our times together from Sister caring for us as children to the most recent trips my husband and I made to visit her in River Grove.
    Sister will live in our hearts forever.

  4. Joseph Jaroch on October 6, 2019 at 3:50 pm

    Most will remember her lifetime of dedicated service to so many. She was my father’s sister and my Aunt Bernie, I will remember a woman of good humor, full of love for her family and she will be missed.
    Always her nephew, Joseph Jaroch

  5. Mary Ann Simpson on October 10, 2019 at 8:07 pm

    I remember her well from Immaculata. Kind and competent. My condolences to her sisters, family, and other friends.

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