Sister Marie David Schroeder
Sister Marie David, baptized Mary Catherine, was born on Jan. 12, 1923, in Jasper, Indiana, to Edward and Theresa Schroeder. She was the middle child of seven and outlived all her siblings, said Sister Betty Hopf in her commentary for Sister Mary David Schroeder, who passed away on Monday, March 30, 2020, at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. She was 97 years old and had been a Sister of Providence for 79 years.
Sister Betty continued: As Sister Mary Ann Lechner said, she “had a lot of grit!” She was able to travel to Jasper this past summer to attend a family reunion, which meant a great deal to her and to her family. Now, she’s having a different kind of reunion with her parents and her six siblings. She was particularly devoted to Sister Louise, and I have heard over and over how attentive she was to her around the time of Louise’s dying and death. Marie David stayed in close contact with her family through the years with phone calls and by mail. Since her parents had six girls and one boy, she always thought her dad hoped that there would be more boys in the family. One of her early memories was that her mother taught the three older girls to cook, but she told Marie David that she could do the dishes. However, she would go out to play with her little brother, and never did learn how to cook. She enjoyed caring for her brother and the two of them became very close.
After graduating from St. Joseph’s Grade School in Jasper, Marie David went to the Juniorate at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods and then entered the Community in January 1941. She took final vows in January 1949. Marie David received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. Her teaching career started in 1943 and she taught in elementary schools for the next 45 years in Indiana, Illinois, and California. It appeared that she enjoyed teaching the lower grades, but she was told that she was too tall to teach little children, so she got assigned to the upper grades, and throughout her teaching career, she taught all eight grades. Virginia (Rojo) Johnson had Marie David in eighth grade. She felt like Marie David tried to instill in her students a sense of responsibility. She would often give long lectures to the class, but the students didn’t mind if she went on and on if it got them out of a class or something else that they didn’t like.
In one of her folders, Marie David had kept a compilation of remarks from students in one of her fourth-grade classes. Here are a few of them: “You’ve helped me in subjects I didn’t even like.” “I feel I’ve come closer to Jesus.” “In third grade, we just read out of the book. In fourth grade, we talked about God out loud.” “You always cared for us.” ‘”You never gave up on us.” “The best year yet!”
Marie David’s ministries did not stop after 45 years of teaching. In 1988, she moved back to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods from California so that she could be closer to her mother, who had cancer, in case she was needed to help out. The next 30 years were some of her happiest years. Sister Lawrence Ann spoke about Marie David as a “giving” person. She always wanted to help out and do her part. In one of her papers left behind, Marie David had jotted down a message obtained from Joan Chittister that said, “You don’t DO what you did before, but don’t just sit. DO and enjoy what you CAN do. Don’t MILDEW!!!” Marie David took this message seriously.
For the next five years, Marie David enjoyed working in the Medicare Office until she had to stop due to eye problems. For the following 12 years, she helped in the Providence Center Gift Shop and also served as the local treasurer in Owens Hall. These jobs ended when she had knee surgery. After Marie David moved from Owens Hall to Providence Hall, she helped with residential services, picking up all kinds of little jobs that she took as seriously as her teaching ministries. In one of her logs, she listed five small part-time jobs and was pleased that she could offer her services. She didn’t really retire until a couple of years ago when she was assigned to pray for sick Sisters and their families. Little did she know that she would be praying for Louise and for herself. She made “smiling” her special little service to others. She couldn’t converse as she wished, but she spoke love and joy and happiness to all she met each day through her smile. Around this time, she wrote, “Physical problems caused me to slow down and that gave me more time to grow in another way.”
I feel like it was a sacred privilege to be able to have access to Marie David’s folders of notes and her personal items which spoke to me about what a beautiful, loving person she was. Because she was such a quiet and private person, her deep spirituality came through in her writings, her personal belongings, (or should I say, lack of personal belongings), her kindness to others, her graciousness and her daily spiritual practices, especially the Rosary.
At age 97, Marie David took only three pills a day – two of which were over the counter. She had many notes on natural remedies and was into holistic means even before that was fashionable. She required hardly any care from the health care staff and was very independent. She had a routine each day and stuck to it. This schedule included sitting outside her door every morning to greet the incoming staff, prayer time, Mass, meal times, relaxation activities and naps. Her favorite relaxation activities were playing cards, games on the computer and TV.
Marie David was genuine! She was a woman of determination. She was not afraid to speak her mind when she disagreed with something. Although she found change in the Community difficult, she would eventually come to acceptance. She also had a sense of humor and a precious little laugh.
Marie David would go the Chapel often to pray. One day, she found herself dozing and then praying and then dozing off again As she left the Chapel, she said: “Sorry, Jesus.” Then, suddenly an image of the Laughing Jesus came to mind and she felt like He was laughing about her visit.
Sister Martha Wessel remarked how impressive it was that Marie David always made an effort to go to the Church for Mass rather than watch it on TV. She loved the Eucharist. It would be hard for her now not to be able to go to Mass, but we know that she now has eternal Eucharist. She would go to Church early to pray. Every day, she would pick a phrase from the Office Book and that would be her thought for the day. Her favorite one was “Open the gates of heaven that I may thank and praise you forever … Forever will my soul proclaim the goodness of God.” Marie David wrote the following about her life these past couple of years: “Now I’m looking forward to my next change when the gates of heaven will open and Jesus will invite me to an unbelievable NEW way to live!” On Monday, March 30, the gates of heaven were opened for Marie David and now she is praising and thanking God. May her smile radiate God’s love through each one of us.
Funeral services for Sister Marie David took place on Friday, April 3, at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
The Funeral Liturgy Outside Mass took place at 11 a.m., on Friday, April 3. It was closed to the public.
We welcome you to share your memories of Sister Marie David in the comment section below.
Sister Marie David Schroeder
In Illinois: Teacher, Maternity BVM, Chicago (1943-47); Teacher, St. Francis Xavier, Wilmette (1951-52); Teacher, St. Mel, Chicago (1954-57); Teacher, St. Sylvester, Chicago (1973).
In Indiana: Teacher, St. Patrick, Fort Wayne (1947-48); Teacher, St. Jude, Fort Wayne (1949-51); Teacher, Assumption, Evansville (1952-54); Teacher, St. Benedict, Terre Haute (1957-59); Teacher, Good Shepherd, Evansville (1959-62); Teacher, St. Joseph, Jasper (1965-66); Teacher, St. John, Vincennes (1966-69); Teacher, St. John the Baptist, Fort Wayne (1969-71); Teacher, Catholic Central, New Albany (1971-72); Teacher, Sacred Heart, Whiting (1973-81); Assistant, Providence Medicare Service SHP, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (1988-89); Medicare, Central Business Office, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (1989-92); Retired/Providence Center Gift Shop Service, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (1993); Retired/Gift Shop Service/Owens Hall Local Treasurer, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (1994-2004); Residential Services, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (2005-2017); Prayer, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (2017-2020).
In California: Teacher, St. Elisabeth, Van Nuys (1962-65); Teacher, St. Elisabeth, Van Nuys (1981-88).
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