2013 In Memoriam

We remember our sisters who entered into eternal life in 2013:

Sr. Thomas Batten, OSU
Sr. Gertrude Becker, OSU
Sr. Christine Bramlet, OSU
Sr. Michael Marie Driscoll, OSU
Sr. Mary Magdalen Fearon, OSU
Sr. Mary Agnes Hermes, OSU
Sr. Virginia Marie Killam, OSU
Sr. Mary Margaret Maher, OSU
Sr. Angela Murphy, OSU
Sr. Lucy Spinner, OSU
Sr. Lourdes Suarez, OSU


 St. Thomas Batten, OSU

Sr. Thomas Batten, OSU
July 27, 1913 - June 4, 2013

Sr. Thomas Batten died peacefully June 4, 2013, at the Ursuline Queen of Peace health care center in Alton, Ill.  She was 99. 

Sr. Thomas was born Flora Catherine Batten on July 27, 1913, in Oak Park, Ill. She was taught by the Ursuline Sisters at St. Joseph Parish Grade School in Downers Grove, Ill.; after eighth grade she was a boarding student at Ursuline High School in Springfield, Ill. One of nine children, she entered the Ursuline order in 1933 and made her religious vows in 1936.

“In my novitiate, the prayer, ‘Jesus, be Jesus to me,’ became a significant part of my life,” she wrote in an autobiography. “It was not difficult for me to practice the vow of poverty. I came from a family that was always poor and we all had to make sacrifices to survive. Obedience was not difficult either. I learned that from my mother and father. I was taught that the vow of chastity means that we love everyone, and this was easy for me, especially with the loving heart that I have.”
She studied at Springfield Junior College in Springfield, Ill; Cardinal Stritch College in Milwaukee, Wis., and Webster College in St. Louis. Her ministries ranged from cooking to teaching to pastoral care, and her service took her to Kirkwood, Jennings Arcadia and Crystal City, Mo.; Springfield, Decatur, Oak Park and Alton, Ill; and Frontenac, Minn.

Sr. Thomas was known as an excellent primary teacher. During a ministry assignment to Springfield, Ill., in 1944, Sr. Thomas began cooking for school children. “It was my first experience being close to children and I loved it,” she wrote. “In 1947, a new life began for me when I was asked to open and teach a kindergarten. This began for me many happy years of teaching in the primary grades."

She retired first to Loretto Center in Springfield and finally to Queen of Peace health care center in Alton. She participated in the Southern Illinois University Alzheimer’s research program.

Of her time at Queen of Peace, community leader Sr. Chabanel Mathison said “she delighted us with her comments and her beautiful smile until she went home to God.”

 Sr. Gertrude Becker, OSU

Sr. Gertrude Becker, OSU
Dec. 31, 1910 – Nov. 13, 2013

Sr. Gertrude Becker died peacefully Nov. 13 at the Ursulines’ Queen of Peace health care center in Alton, Ill.  She was 102.

The daughter of Henry Gansforth and Gertrude Pfeifer, she was born Helen Gansforth Becker on Dec. 31, 1910, in St. Paul, Minn. She is preceded in death by a sister, Anna Marie Catherine Becker, known as Sister Andre Becker, OSU, and a brother, Anthony.

Sr. Gertrude received a Bachelor of Science degree in economics from Fontbonne University in St. Louis and a Master of Business Administration in economics from DePaul University in Chicago. She entered the Ursuline Novitiate in Alton in July 1933 and made her religious vows in 1936.

Her decades of ministry took her to Springfield and Alton, Ill.; Kirkwood, Mo.; Texarkana, Texas; Boulder, Colo.; and Thibodaux and New Orleans, La.  Besides teaching at the elementary and secondary levels, she served the Ursuline Sisters of the Central Province as provincial secretary and treasurer, playing a major part in introducing computerized accounting in the province.  She also did parish work in adult education and volunteer work for the Louisiana State Museum and the New Orleans Symphony. She retired to St. Joseph Village in Dallas, Texas, in 2004 and moved to Queen of Peace in 2010.

Known as a great storyteller,  Sr. Gertrude had been working with a local librarian on an oral history of her life during the past few months.  After listening to the first three CDs she had recorded,  she remarked,  “I’m 102 and I never knew how loquacious I am!”

Sr. Christine Bramlet, OSU

Sr. Christine Bramlet, OSU
Sept. 24, 1930 – Feb. 15, 2013

Sr. Christine Bramlet, known for her gentle and caring spirituality, died peacefully Feb. 15 in Alton, Ill. She was 82.

She was born Loraine Lucy Bramlet on Sept. 24, 1930, in Springfield, Ill., and grew up thinking she wanted to be a religious sister. She entered the Ursuline order upon graduation from Ursuline Academy in Springfield in 1948 and made her religious vows in 1951. She earned a bachelor's degree in math and a master's degree in education from The College of New Rochelle in New Rochelle, N.Y.

Sr. Christine shared her gifts throughout the Ursuline Central Province. She taught young children in Arcadia and Kirkwood, Mo., and secondary students in Jenings, Mo., and Springfield, Ill. She served as Ursuline community treasurer Dallas and Laredo, Texas; Ursuline comunity leader in Jennings, Mo.; and business manager in Decatur, Ill. In 2005 she moved to the Ursulines' Queen of Peace infirmary in Alton.

"Sr. Christine was a lover of all living things. There was not a dog or cat, a bird or a flower, or a single person that did not know this. It was symbolic of her gentle and caring spirituality.

"Where she ministered or what work she did was not as important to her as the people she came to know and love while doing it. She carried her friends in her heart for the rest of her life, remembering them at birthdays and Christmas time. Her generous heart, full of love for friends and family, finally gave out . . . but her love and the legacy of wonderful memories she has left us will remain."

Sr. Chabanel Mathison
and Ursulines of Alton

 Sr. Michael Marie Driscoll, OSU

Sr. Michael Marie Driscoll, OSU
Jan. 30, 1930 – Sept. 29, 2013

Sr. Michael Marie Driscoll, OSU, also known as Elizabeth Ann Driscoll, died peacefully on Sept. 29, 2013, at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Alton, Ill. She was 83 years old.

The daughter of Louis Henry Driscoll Sr. and Grace D. Sanford Driscoll, she was born January 30, 1930 in Laredo, Texas.  Her parents and siblings George Howard, Frances Howard Warner, and Louis Henry Driscoll Jr. preceded her in death.  Sr. Michael Marie is survived by her sister-in-law, Doris Driscoll, a niece and two nephews.

Sr. Michael Marie received her secondary education at Austin High School in El Paso, Texas, and Ursuline Academy in Laredo, Texas. She pursued her college education at Laredo Junior College and Incarnate Word College in San Antonio, Texas.

During her long and active ministry, Sr. Michael Marie served in many different capacities.  She taught first-, second- and third- grade students in Laredo and Falfurrias, Texas; Arnold, Mo; and Oak Park, Ill.; for 25 years.  For the next 10 years, Sr. Michael Marie taught physical education (one of the loves of her life).

After retiring from teaching in 1978, Sr. Michael Marie worked in maintenance and community service in San Antonio and Laredo, and at the Villa Maria Retreat and Conference Center in Frontenac, Minn.  She lived at St. Joseph’s Village in Coppell, Texas, from 2005 to 2011, then moved to the Ursulines’ Queen of Peace health care center in Alton, Ill.

 Sr. Mary Magdalen Fearon, OSU

Sr. Mary Magdalen Fearon, OSU
July 24, 1918 – Nov. 14, 2013

Sr. Mary Magdalen Fearon, OSU, died peacefully Nov. 14, 2013, at the Ursulines’ Queen of Peace health care center in Alton, Ill.

The daughter of Charles Walter Fearon and Rose McKay Fearon, Sr. Mary Magdalen—one of 11 children—was born Anna Mae Fearon on July 24, 1918, in Chicago. She received a bachelor’s degree in history from The College of New Rochelle in New Rochelle, N.Y.; a master’s degree in history from DePaul University in Chicago, Ill.; and a master’s degree in religion from Providence College in Providence, R.I.  She entered the Ursuline Sisters in July 1941 and made her religious vows in January 1944.

Sr. Mary Magdalen is remembered as being very well read and always up to date. Her gift for teaching served her well not only in the education of elementary and secondary school children but also in her second career in adult education. She spent many decades of ministry in Oak Park, Springfield, Decatur and Collinsville, Ill; Arcadia, Arnold and Kirkwood, Mo.; Galveston, Texas; and Frontenac, Minn. She also served as an Ursuline community councilor and prioress in Arcadia.

Already in her sixties, in 1985 she accepted an assignment to serve SS. Peter and Paul Parish in Collinsville, Ill., where she ministered with great devotion until 2005. She retired to Queen of Peace in 2006.  Among her remembrances of a life well lived, she spoke often about the opportunities she had been given to travel to Alaska and Ireland.

 Sr. Mary Agnes Hermes, OSU

Sr. Mary Agnes Hermes, OSU
Nov. 25, 1922 - June 13, 2013

Sr. Agnes died peacefully June 13, 2013, at the Ursuline Queen of Peace health care center in Alton, Ill. The daughter of Edward Andrew Hermes and Gertrude Agnes Bergschneider, she was born 90 years ago in Jacksonville, Ill.

Sr. Agnes grew up in Alexander, Ill., on the family farm, got her early education at Prairie College Elementary School and graduated from Ursuline Academy in Springfield, Ill. She entered the Ursuline Sisters in 1940 and professed her religious vows in 1943. She received a bachelor’s degree in English from The College of New Rochelle in New Rochelle, N.Y., and a master’s degree in education from DePaul University in Chicago. She also did post-graduate work at the University of Dayton in Ohio and at St. Louis University.

A long list of teaching assignments, supervisory responsibililties, leadership positions and nearly 20 years as provincial secretary for the Ursulines of the Central Province took her to Springfield and Oak Park, Ill.; Galveston, Texas; and Festus, Crystal City, Kirkwood and Arnold, Mo. 

In 2011 she retired to the Ursuline community in Alton, where she served as assistant archivist until her death.

Sr. Virginia Marie Killiam Sr. Virginia Marie Killam, OSU
July 14, 1920 – May 22, 2013


Sr. Virginia Marie Killam, recognized by her sisters as a truly global woman, died peacefully May 22, 2013, at the Ursuline Queen of Peace health care center in Alton, Ill. She was 92.

Born July 14, 1920, in Denver, Colo., Sr. Virginia Marie entered the Ursuline Sisters in 1937 and made her religious profession in 1940. She studied for her bachelor’s degree in New Orleans and at Fontbonne University in St. Louis, and for a master’s degree in Spanish at Universidad de la Habana, Universidad Catolid de St. Tomas de Villanueva, and the University of Dallas. For more than 30 years, she ministered in Hispanic countries: Cuba, Mexico and Spain. In Havana, Cuba, she taught English for 10 years and later guided the novices in a Spanish-language novitiate. Her service in Cuba and lifelong ties to the alumnae earned her the beloved title, “Madrina,” or god mother.

She continued to use her gift with the Spanish language by working 10 years as an immigration caseworker and counselor for Catholic Charities in Dallas. Of her time there, Sr. Virginia Marie said, “These years helped me learn about other worlds: the Arabic, Asian, Indian, Ethiopinan, and made me feel more ‘Ursuline’ and more ‘Catholic’ in the truest sense.”

She then served in the offices of her alma mater, Ursuline Academy in Dallas, for another 12 years before retiring to Queen of Peace in 2009.

Sr. Chabanel, Queen of Peace community leader, shared the following: “While it seems that Virginia Marie did not necessarily seek other shores, they certainly called to her over and over again throughout her colorful and given life. She responded with a generous heart. . . . Although Spanish was not her first language, it was the language of her heart, and she prayed in Spanish rather than in English for most of her religious life. . . . Having just been released from the hospital, she was still concerned about catching up on the e-mails from her Cuban alumnae the day she died. May God welcome her to Eternal Life in whatever language speaks to her heart!” 


 Sister Mary Margaret Maher, OSU

Sr. Mary Margaret Maher, OSU

Sept. 13, 1918 – July 11, 2013 

Sr. Mary Margaret Maher died peacefully June 11, 2013,  at the Ursuline Queen of Peace health care center in Alton, Ill. She was 94. 

Born in Assumption, Ill., Sr. Mary Margaret graduated from Ursuline Academy in Kirkwood, entered the Ursuline Sisters in 1935 and made her religious vows in 1938. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Fontbonne University, a masters’ degree in education from St. Louis University and a master’s degree in pastoral studies from Loyola University in Chicago. 

When asked for thoughts about her life, she once shared the following: 

“Though we grew up during the depression, my parents never let the seven of us know that times were hard. My grandparents and aunt and uncle ran the family farm. They brought in food so we were never hungry, and we shared with neighbors which we thought was wonderful. We were fortunate to go through the depression without the pain that some experienced. 

“We had Dominicans for school, and I loved them, but the Ursulines had foreign missions so I became an Ursuline. I did get to go to China, and it was the work I enjoyed most until the Communists came and we had to leave.” 

In the 1940s, in addition to serving in Swatow, China, where she was lovingly known as Mother Stanislaus, she served in Havana, Cuba. 

Through her long career, Sr. Mary Margaret also taught and served as principal at many Catholic schools throughout the Ursuline’s Central Province, including in Jennings, Kirkwood and De Soto, Mo.; and in Decatur, Springfield and Alton, Ill. In Laredo, Texas, she taught elementary school and adult education while serving the poor. She also worked among the poor in Oak Park, Ill., and taught Continuing Catholic Education in Frontenac, Minn.  


Sr. Angela Murphy, OSU

Sr. Angela Murphy, OSU
March 12, 1916  - Nov. 25, 2013

Sr. Angela Murphy died peacefully Nov. 25, 2013, at the Ursulines’ Queen of Peace health care center in Alton, Ill.  She was 97.

The daughter of Daniel Francis Murphy and Isabella Lees Hayes, Sr. Angela was born Patricia Arlene Murphy on March 12, 1916, in Galveston, Texas.  She entered the Ursuline Novitiate in Alton in July 1934 and made her religious vows in January 1937. She received a bachelor’s degree from Xavier College of Chicago and a master’s degree in library science from Rosary College in River Forest, Ill.

Her years of service in Catholic schools took her to Springfield and Oak Park, Ill.; Jennings and Arcadia, Mo.; Galveston, Texas; and Metairie, La.

Her longest ministry assignments included teaching elementary grades at St. Patrick’s in Galveston from 1938 to 1951 and at Ascension School in Oak Park from 1954 to 1973.  Her last ministry assignment was at the National Votive Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor in New Orleans, where she served as the beloved sacristan until her retirement.

Friends of Sr. Angela, the Maceo family of Galveston, Texas, shared the following:

“Sr. Angela Murphy was truly sent to us from God. Her life was a true depiction of what it is to totally belong to our Savior and His Blessed Mother. She was the keeper of the Shrine, but she was more—she was the keeper of so, so many people.

“Her kind smile is what I remember the most. Through her sweet eyes shined faith; faith that through prayer, most assuredly, Our Lady would take care of us all.

“Sr. Angela touched my family, my heart and my life. In recent conversations she promised to continue to pray for us from wherever she may be. How comforting. How eternal—becoming of our Saint, Sr. Angela Murphy.”

Sr. Mary Anne Holmes adds, "Sr. Angela was my music/singing teacher when I was in fourth grade at Ursuline Academy. She was delightful, and I enjoyed her class. Sr. Angela also taught at St. Patrick's School in Galveston, and one of my high school classmates always asked about 'her most favorite teacher, Sr. Angela.'

"A few days after we learned of sister's death, I was having supper with another high school classmate and told her that Sr. Angela had died. Her response was 'she was such a loving and kind person.' What wonderful memories we have of her."


 Sr. Lucy Spinner, OSU at age 100

Sr. Lucy Spinner, OSU
July 26, 1909 – Sept. 15, 2013 

Sr. Lucy Spinner, also known as Anna Gertrude Spinner, died Sept. 15, 2013, at the Ursulines’ Queen of Peace health care center in Alton, Ill, at age 104. She ministered as a teacher and principal at catholic elementary schools in Decatur for more than half a century. 

The daughter of Louis Spinner and Pauline Mast Spinner, she was born July 26, 1909, in Coffeen, Ill. She graduated from St. Teresa High School in Decatur, Ill., in 1925 and entered the Ursuline Sisters in Decatur in 1927.  She made her religious vows in Alton in 1929.  Fontbonne College in St. Louis granted her a bachelor’s degree in education in 1957, and Rosary College in River Forest, Ill., granted her a master’s degree in library science in 1966.  All of her years of service as a teacher and principal were in elementary schools in Decatur, where she is well known for the countless young lives she influenced.  Sr. Lucy spent 35 years at St. Patrick’s School and served 20 years at St. Thomas School. She retired to the Queen of Peace Community in Alton in 2003.


 Sr. Lourdes Suarez, OSU

Sr. Lourdes Suarez, OSU
Sept. 19, 1937 – April 14, 2013
Sr. Lourdes Suarez, died peacefully April 14, 2013, at the Ursuline Queen of Peace Infirmary in Alton, Ill.  She was 75.

She was born Maria de Lourdes Suarez, the first of 14 children of Manuel Suarez Carreno and Eloisa Gaston de Suarez, on Sept. 19, 1937 in Havana, Cuba. When Lourdes wanted to pursue religious life, her mother helped her research various possibilities from which Lourdes chose the Ursulines as the match for her call and aspirations. She entered the Ursuline novitiate there in 1955 and made her first religious vows in 1956.

She came to the College of New Rochelle in New York with the Cuban novitiate community in 1960 when the future of religious orders was being threatened by the Castro regime. There she earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish. She earned a second bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree and a doctorate in education from the Catholic University of Peru. Her teaching career led her to Mexico City, Mexico; Lima, Peru; and New Orleans. She moved to Queen of Peace in 2003.

Sr. Lourdes also was an accomplished pianist with an exquisite voice. For two summers, she and some of siblings were flown by their parents to the Von Trapp Family Music Camp in Vermont, and Sr. Lourdes not only sang with the Von Trapp family but came to know them personally.  Toward the end of her life, one of the things she enjoyed most was watching “Sound of Music.”

Sr. Lourdes is survived by all 13 of her siblings: brothers Jorge, Xavier, Charlie, Melchor, Manolito and Fernando Suarez; and sisters Teresa Bernardo, Eulalia Mooney Margarita Suarez, Eloisa Hidalgo, Manela Diez, Rosa Maria Garcia and Maria Dolores Hamm. Her family speaks of her as “having a special quality of kindness and peace,” which touched each one of them. “We Cubans are very high strung,” her sister Lala said in reflecting on this, “and she was always an oasis of peace and very at ease with herself. She was artistic and like a window to beauty for us, setting the pace for easy relationships in the family.”

She was indeed a “window of beauty” for all of us with her lovely voice and her serenity as she made her final journey home to God. We can still hear her saying, when she did not know how else to respond, “Oh my goodness!” and we wonder if those were not her first words as she entered into the mystery of eternal life.

Sr. Chabanel Mathison
with the participation of the Suarez siblings