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Sister Marianne Mader (formerly Sister Ann Eugene)

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew (11:25-30)

At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, O God, Ruler of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; truly, O God, such was your gracious will. All things have been delivered to me by you; and no one knows me except you, and no one knows you except me and anyone to whom I choose to reveal you. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly of heart, and you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Sister Marianne Mader, who labored long and well in the service of God’s people, was burdened for much of her life by ill health. But although her burden may have been at times heavy, her heart was always light, said Sister Janet Gilligan in her commentary for Sister Marianne Mader, formerly Sister Ann Eugene, who passed away on Sunday, June 7, 2020, at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. She was 73 years old and had been a Sister of Providence for 53 years.

Sister Marianne Mader

Sister Janet continued: She found rest and comfort in her faith and her unflappable, buoyant hope She once said, “Two things I live by: I can do all things in God who strengthens me. And the other is, nothing can separate me from the love of God. In my dark moments, that what I pray.” She lived until she died, joyously, and hopefully, saying “My philosophy of life is to try to create joy every day of your life.”

Marianne Agnes Mader was born on Jan. 15, 1947, to Eugene Mader and Frances Ley Mader in North Vernon, Ind., the second of six children. Of her entrance into the world, Marianne wrote “I think from early on, my life really was providential. I was not supposed to even be here. I was very premature at birth. I weighed 3 pounds and 13 ounces. I kept losing weight. My mother desperately wanted to make sure I lived.” At Marianne’s baptism, the priest said to her worried mother, “You never know. She might grow up to be something after all.” And we are here to proclaim that she did.

Marianne had three sisters: Jeannette, who died in 2016, Roseanne, and Catherine (Kitty); two brothers: Eugene and Gerald; and 14 nieces and nephews. She had a happy childhood, playing outside, singing in choirs, playing with paper dolls, and above all, reading. She loved the library and taught herself to read when she was only 5 years old so she could get a library card. From an early age, she was determined to become a librarian. Her sister Kitty writes, “Marianne always loved books. I can remember walking to the library several days a week to get out the latest books and then sitting side-by-side on the glider on the porch and reading together. I also remember playing ‘church’ with Marianne. When we were lucky enough to have a nickel to buy Necco wafer candies, they would play the role of Communion and Marianne was the priest!”

Marianne had fond memories of staying at her grandparent’s farm in the summers, of her grandmother going to Mass every day, praying from a German prayer book, and writing in her journal. Marianne herself made journaling a central part of her life, and when life got difficult, she would image her grandmother’s porch and go there to calm down and rest.

All her life, Marianne cherished her close-knit, supportive family. She was there for every baptism, birthday, graduation, first communion, wedding and holiday. She was always concerned for any family member experiencing problems; family always came first for her. When their mother was dying of cancer, the family decided she should remain at home as she wished. One social worker said, “You realize it’s around-the-clock car? Which one of you is going to be able to do this?” And al six immediately said, “All of us.” Their mom got her wish and died in her own bed with all of her family around her, a pivotal moment in their lives.
Marianne grew up in the shadow of Saint Philip Neri Convent in Indianapolis and knew the Sisters well. She helped out in the convent and sacristy and loved hearing the Sisters chant their prayers. She says, “All my life I wanted to be a sister. I was attracted to the sisters. I was drawn to a life of prayer that would lead to an outreach of service.” Her only concern was that all the Sisters were teachers, but when a Sister assured her Sisters could be librarians too, she never looked back.

She attended Saint Philipp Neri School, Saint Mary’s Academy in Indianapolis, and Providence Aspirancy at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. She entered the Sisters of Providence in 1967, and she received the religious name Sister Ann Eugene. She professed first vows in 1970, and final vows in 1975. She earned a degree in elementary education at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in 1971, and although she was still eager to be a librarian, she realized this would require a master’s in library science, so Marianne found herself teaching primary grades at St. Catherine and St. Philip Neri in Indianapolis from 1972-77.

After taking final vows, Marianne was hopeful that she would be able to now earn that coveted library of science degree and become a librarian. By chance, or by Providence, she was asked to join in a workshop for Sisters seeking new careers. She was surprised when she had very high test scores not only in library education but also in medicine. “Well,” Sister Anne Doherty said, “I don’t know how to put these things together, but there is such a thing as a medical librarian.” So Marianne was soon to be found at Rosary College in River Forest, Ill., training to be a medical librarian. Her teachers were skeptical at first because Marianne had little background in science, but they changed their minds when she easily earned A’s in medical classes.

Sister Marianne Mader & Sister Mary Lois Hennel

After receiving her degree in library science in 1978, she worked for 15 years in various positions in the medical library at Community Hospital in Indianapolis She recalls, “They gave me an award at Community one time called Super Sleuth because I would go to the bitter end to try to find the information someone needed.” During this time, she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and became interested in helping patients understand their medical conditions. She said, “It became even more apparent to me how important it is for people to know what they are dealing with and to get an education and how to handle their diagnosis.” She was a great resource to her Sisters, too, helping them understand their illnesses, find the right treatment, and the doctors they needed, earning the nickname of Doctor Marianne.

In 1993, Marianne’s burden became too heavy to bear when she developed clots in her leg and had to have several surgeries. She was diagnosed with lupus and forced to take a medical leave for two years. To try to recover from her serious health issues, she moved to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. This difficult event proved to be once again Providential when Marianne was asked to use her research skills to help establish the authenticity of the miracle that would lead to the beatification of Mother Theodore.

“Other people feel, and I do too, that it was providential that I had no other job at that point. Sister Nancy Nolan asked me (to research the miracle) and Sister Emily Walsh said, ‘Boy, am I glad we have you. I would not have known where to begin.’ I had to resign at Community Hospital because of my health issues. I thought that it was going to be the end of my medical research. How ironical!”

In what Marianne felt was the most important achievement in her life, she found evidence for the credentials of the attending physician, Doctor Leon J. Willien, and answers for questions raised about the diagnosis and treatment of Sister Mary Theodosia Mug in 1909. Marianne later wrote, “If you were going to do my obituary, the crowning thing would be the medical research for Sister Mary Theodosia.” This research into events from 1909 involved very old boxes of files and tattered books. Finally, in the bottom of a filthy box in the basement of the Indiana University Library in Indianapolis, Marianne discovered documentation that proved Dr. Willien had two medical degrees She gathered other information – including an article written by Willien and his obituary – that established beyond a doubt that he was a reputable physician.

Eventually, she provided answers to all the Vatican’s questions and with unusual alacrity, her responses were approved unanimously by the medical commission. Sister Marianne said to Sister Nancy Nolan, “If I never do another thing in my life, that is the pinnacle of my whole medical librarian career, to be able to do something like that.” She marveled, “Just when you think your life is about over, and you’re not going to get to do something, God plays tricks on you. It happened for a reason and my being here was supposed to happen.”

Eventually, as always, Marianne bounced back and recovered enough to return to work. In 1997, she became a Medical Information Assistant at Crossroads Rehabilitation Center in Indianapolis, then an Instructional Assistant at Holy Spirit, and a Librarian at Holy Angels School, Indianapolis, helping them to receive a grant for the library. In 2006, she came back to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods to work in the Archives as a researcher and in 2017, became the coordinator of the Archives. She loved exploring the history of the Community and was an active partner in Wabash Valley Visions and Voices.

While working in the Archives, Marianne acquired a second job as a patient advocate with a specialty pharmaceutical company called BIORX. The company hired only those who had the same disease as the patient. “The coolest thing about it is, all my life I tried to hide the fact that I had rheumatoid arthritis or that I had anything wrong with me. I would go to work feeling just absolutely horrible. I didn’t want anybody to know I was sick because I was afraid of losing my job. This job, I was hired because I was sick. The day she offered me the job, I started crying. I explained to her that I had never been given a job because I was sick.”

Marianne’s family and profession were central to her life but equally important to her was belonging to the community of Providence. She found that the support of Community helped her achieve her potential. She valued prayer, both private prayer and community prayer. “I don’t think I could do the things I do without being God-centered and without praying, not (just) by myself, but with other sisters too.”

Marianne’s love for the Providence Community and her family coalesced when she was a companion to four family members who became Providence Associates.

Marianne is remembered as smart, determined, long-suffering, generous, giving, happy, kind, friendly, and always positive. Although she described herself as an introvert, she loved to be with people. And we will always remember her cheerfully zipping along in her amigo, clutching her beloved Vera Bradley handbag.

Sisters Mary Ryan and Marianne Mader, both of the Sisters of Providence Archives Department, are pictured with Saint Mother Theodore Guerin’s journal, in which the saint wrote her first entry on Oct. 22, 1840, the first day of arriving with five companions sisters at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

The last few years have been increasingly difficult for Marianne, as her health deteriorated and she was confined to health care. But she somehow held on to her optimism and her sweet smile. Her good friend, Sister Mary Ryan, would visit Marianne when she herself was having bad days because Marianne was always positive and never gave up. “She gave me hope.” A few weeks ago, Marianne said to her “I know you’ll be with me until the end.”

On June 7, with her Sisters of Providence by her side, the frail child who did grow up to be something after all finally reached the end of her strength. Providence guided her life and enabled her to share her gifts and her joyous spirit with many people – doctors, patients, colleagues, her community, and her family.

Now the God of Providence has taken her home to a place where pain, illness, and sadness no more have dominion, and she can rest in eternal peace.

Funeral services for Sister Marianne took place on Friday, June 12, 2020, at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana.

A Wake took place at 10:30 a.m., followed by Funeral Liturgy Outside Mass at 11 a.m.

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

Sister Marianne Mader (formerly Sister Ann Eugene)

Complete Ministry

In Indiana: Teacher, St. Catherine, Indianapolis (1971-72); Teacher, St. Philip Neri, Indianapolis (1972-77); Medical Librarian, Community Hospital, Indianapolis (1978-85); Library Coordinator, Community Hospital, Indianapolis (1985-86); Staff Librarian and Research Analyst, Community Hospital and Hand Surgery Association of Indianapolis (1986-88); Reference Librarian, Community Hospital, Indianapolis (1988-93); Medical Information Assistant, Crossroads Rehabilitation Center, Indianapolis (1997-98); Instructional Assistant-Computers, Holy Spirit, Indianapolis (1998-2002); Librarian, Holy Angels School, Indianapolis (2002-06); Archive Researcher, Sisters of Providence, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (2006-16); Archives Coordinator, Sisters of Providence, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (2017-19); Archives Consultant, Sisters of Providence, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (2019).

In Ohio: Patient Advocate, BIORX, Cincinnati (2010-17).

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5 Comments

  1. Jeanne Frost on June 8, 2020 at 10:16 am

    It’s hard to know where to begin. Sister Marianne was always so easy going, even tempered, kind, spoke to me whenever she saw me. We were both librarians and had that in common. She will be missed.

  2. Barb Kovats Tuttle on June 8, 2020 at 6:58 pm

    I am so, so sorry to hear that S. Marianne has passed. I knew she had a number of serious health issues, but did not realize that her passing was so imminent. I only saw her when I trekked up to the Woods (from Florida), but we always got together when I was there. Marianne was a very giving person who will be missed by many — and we will definitely miss her at the (COVID-19 delayer) 2021 aspirancy reunion. Rest in peace, ol’ friend….

  3. John Hall on June 11, 2020 at 9:25 am

    Aunt Marianne did indeed have a good sense of humor. Back in the early 80’s, Marianne let me borrow one of her old habits on Halloween. I was a grill man at Steak N’ Shake and worked an entire shift wearing Marianne’s habit along with a name tag that said “The Frying Nun”. I didn’t look much like Sally Fields but my outfit was a big hit with customers and employees. I apologized later to Marianne for the Steakburger smell that I am sure stayed with that habit for a long, long time thereafter.
    Years later, my family and I visited The Woods fairly often and Marianne always welcomed us and spent a lot of time showing us around the lovely campus. She clued us in to an auction several years ago when one of the buildings was repurposed. Our large dining room table came from that auction and we think of Marianne and The Woods often when we are having family dinners.

    John Hall and Family

    • Ezra Kyle Meadors, PA on June 12, 2020 at 3:26 pm

      I had quite an interesting relationship with Marianne, but I’m grateful to have known her. She enhanced my understanding of Providence.

      I had interacted with Marianne over the years as she located items for me in the archives, but I never knew if she liked me or not. I just couldn’t tell. But she was always quick to locate exactly what I needed.

      In 2016, I moved to the Woods to spend a year at White Violet. Marianne came up to me in the dining room shortly after I arrived at the Woods and told me I should come over and see the archives in person. She set a time, and I walked over. She remembered some of my previous requests, and she had physical items relating to some of those Sisters laid out on the table.

      Marianne and I both saw the world through different political lenses, and, unfortunately, I allowed that to temporarily interfere in our friendship.

      One evening, I walked over to the Express Hall to get a Dr. Pepper out of the pop machine. As I was putting my quarters in the machine, the elevator doors opened and out rolled Marianne in her nightgown. Without even skipping a beat she said “Now Ezra we’ve got to be friends since you’ve seen me in my nightgown!” We had the greatest laugh, and she proceeded to her her selected soda from the machine.

      I walked back to Marian Hall with feelings of guilt that I had allowed politics to come between me and Marianne. We were both faces of God’s Providence, and I was ashamed that I had perhaps allowed the face of God’s Providence to be obscured to her.

      We had a mutual friend in Donna Kehoe, PA. I was close to Donna here in Chicago and Marianne had been with her in the aspirancy. I knew Donna always visited Marianne anytime she was at the Woods. When Donna died, Marianne was unable to come to Chicago for the funeral. The day of the funeral, I mailed Marianne the funeral program and one of Donna’s memorial cards. When Marianne saw me a few months later at the Annual Meeting she came up to me with tears in her eyes and thanked me for sending Donna’s memorial card. She hugged me, and I felt true friendship from her.

      My life has been incredibly enriched by Marianne, and my understanding of Providence has been deepened because of her.

      Rest in peace, Marianne.

  4. Paula Sprigg on June 12, 2020 at 4:09 pm

    You were a lovely soul, and I am glad that our paths crossed at The Woods – particularly in the St. Ignatian 30-day prayer retreat! My heart hurt when I heard of your passing. I am happy to have known you, and hope that one day we will meet again. Until then, rest in peace Friend.

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