On the Feast of Mary’s Assumption, August 15, 2013, the day when we traditionally remember our departed Sisters, our whole community went in pilgrimage to St. Peter’s Cemetery. Here twenty of our Sisters are buried.
A short biography of each Sister was prepared and we prayerfully remembered each one in turn. A rose was placed on each grave. These are the Sisters who have gone before us, who began our community here in London and who made it possible for us to be here today. May their dear souls rest now in God’s peace.
Below are the Short Biographies of the Early Sisters of the London Monastery.
Sister St. Michael
From childhood, Irene Hickey, in Religion Sr. St. Michael, had wanted to become a Sister Adorer of the Precious Blood. However, her dream was not realized until after her mother’s death, as her mother was opposed to the idea. Sister entered in London and, as a novice, became ill with tuberculosis. As it became evident that she would soon pass away she was allowed to take her vows early, dying only 8 days later on July 1st, 1916. She was the first to be buried in this plot which was a gift to the community from Bishop Fallon.
Sr. Mary of the Precious Blood
When Louisa Alexandria Lanphier, in Religion Sr. Mary of the Precious Blood, decided to follow in her sister’s footsteps (Mother Mary Teresa) and become a Sister Adorer of the Precious Blood. She kept her wish to herself and entered in Toronto without her parents’ knowledge. They had strongly opposed her sister’s entrance and Sister knew that they would not be pleased with her chosen vocation. Years later, she was chosen, along with her sister and a small group as a foundress of the London monastery. Among her tasks were those of Pharmacist, Infirmarian and Portress. Sister was gentle and meek and possessed a wonderful sense of humour. She was privileged to be a Sister Adorer of the Precious Blood for over 50 years dying on June 21st, 1942.
Mother Mary Teresa
At the age of 21, Mary Ann Lanphier, in Religion Mother Mary Teresa, entered in Toronto despite strong opposition from her parents who thought the life to be much too severe and viewed it as a slow suicide. She was sent as the Foundress and first Superior of the London foundation, a position she held for 28 years. One of Mother Catherine Aurelia’s associates once said, “My daughter, you will be a pillar of our institute”. Not only was she a pillar, but Mother was also known as a “Tower of Patience”. She spent many years in a wheelchair and was later confined to bed, but never did anyone hear her utter a word of complaint. Mother Mary Teresa passed away, quite fittingly, at 3 o’clock on a Friday afternoon at the age of 90, the date was May 18th, 1951.
Sister Mary Joseph
Winifred Madden, In Religion Sister Mary Joseph, entered in Toronto and was pleased to receive the name of Joseph as both she and her father had a great devotion to this Saint. In 191 3, she was chosen to be one of the foundresses of the London monastery. Sister spent most of her time working in the sewing room as she was a gifted seamstress, she was also able to contribute as Infirmarian, Councillor and Mistress of Novices. On Sundays, she could be found spending most of her time in the chapel before the Blessed Sacrament. She had such a longing to be close to Jesus and to offer herself completely to him. Sister passed away on January 21st, 1951, the Feast of the Espousals of Mary and Joseph, both of whose names she bore.
Sr. Mary Cecilia
Mary Caroline Ryan, in Religion Sister Mary Cecilia, was greatly devoted to her family, taking care of her mother for many years. It was only after her mother’s death that Sister entered the monastery. At this time she was 35 years old and was so accustomed to her independence that she struggled with obedience. She later learned to cherish this virtue, realizing that all virtues were gathered under its umbrella. From an early age, Sister suffered from a speech Impediment which she graciously accepted. She was very intelligent and was always eager to help. Upon her death on October 27th, 1955, her head was surrounded by light that everyone present had the privilege of seeing. They also observed that her eyes were beautiful. It seemed as though they were full of light! Those present thought it was a reflection of the joy of her being in heaven.
Sister St. Martin
It was while visiting Martyr’s Shrine in Midland that Frances Corkery, in Religion Sr. St. Martin, first heard the call to religious life. At the time she was 40 years old and for this reason was not accepted at first as a Sister Adorer of the Precious Blood. However, a couple of years later the doors opened wide for her and she was able to enter the London monastery. Sister had the gift of being detached from all material things as well as from her own self-will. God alone sufficed. She was always at the service of others in a hidden way. After being in London for 2 years, she was sent as foundress to the monastery in Bellevue, Ohio. Five years later, only months after taking her Final Vows, Sr. St. Martin died of cancer, accepting her last sufferings without complaint. Her date of death was March 27th, 1955. Her body was transferred to St. Peter’s Cemetery in London when the Bellevue monastery closed.
Sr. Mary of the Eucharist
Matilda Herzog, in Religion Sr. Mary of the Eucharist, first became a Sister Adorer of the Precious Blood in Toronto before being sent as foundress to the London monastery. She spent her years of service at the Brooklyn, Peterborough, Winnipeg and London monasteries. On the occasion of her Golden Jubilee, Sister wrote a beautiful letter in which she mentioned how grateful she was to have her family with her for this special occasion and how at the time of Communion each one there was closely united to her In Christ. She suffered a great deal from diabetes and had both of her legs amputated. Shortly after her second leg was amputated, she passed away at St. Joseph’s Hospital in London on March 4th, 1961.
Sr. Mary Gerarda
Mary Ellen Higgins, in Religion Sr. Mary Gerarda, entered the monastery in Toronto and was sent as foundress to London, and later as foundress to Bellevue. She was devoted to Mother Teresa, spending 10 years taking care of her. Sister was always cheerful and loved to recount stories from her childhood especially that she had been born amidst the excitement of a bush fire! True to character, her last moments on earth were also cheerful ones. It is recounted that in the last 20 minutes of her life, while in the hospital, she was quite happy when all of a sudden she exclaimed “I think I am dying – My Jesus mercy”. No sooner had she said these words than her soul took flight. She passed away on March 13th, 1965 in Bellevue. Her body was transferred to St. Peter’s Cemetery in London when the Bellevue monastery closed.
Sister Mary St. Anthony
Catherine Summers, in Religion Sr. Mary Anthony, was born In Dublin, Ireland and moved to Canada at a young age. Although she could have had a career in the theatrical world, she chose instead to become a Sister Adorer of the Precious Blood. She was sent from Toronto as a foundress to the London monastery. Sister worked hard in the kitchen and garden for many years giving of herself in many ways. She spent 52 of her Religious years here in London. She added much to community life and had a special fondness for novices. She passed away In London on May 30th, 1965.
Sr. Mary Stanislaus
Rita Mary Brophy, in Religion Sr. Mary Stanislaus, entered in London and was later sent as foundress of the Winnipeg monastery where she spent 21 yews. She then moved back to London before spending time in both the Bellevue and Hamilton monasteries. Although she had been ill for some time, her death on September 27th, 1966 was unexpected. The priest who was giving class to the novices just across the hall only had time to anoint her before she died.
Mother St. Patrick
Mary Cecilia Doyle, in Religion Mother St. Patrick, was born In Sydenham Township near Owen Sound. After assisting at her sister’s Religious Profession (Sr. Mary of the Angels), she decided to enter in Toronto. Mother had a gift for leadership. Only 3 years after making her profession she volunteered for the London foundation, later drawing plans for the monastery on Talbot Street. She was foundress as well as the first Superior in Winnipeg and later helped with the foundation in Hamilton. In 1947, Mother St. Patrick was appointed as the first Superior General of the new Federation which within a year became our present Generalate. Among her many virtues, she had a love of prayer and a humble heart, she forgave easily and was charitable to all. Mother passed away on March 6th, 1966.
Sr. Mary of the Angels
Margaret Mary Doyle, in Religion Sr. Mary of the Angels, entered the Toronto monastery in 1906 and spent most of her religious life there. She always strove to do whatever God wanted, even when it meant large sacrifices. At the age of 82, she left Toronto, the only monastery she had ever known, in order to move to London. In her new home, Sister would often say “Take me up to our Lord” at which point one of the Sisters would bring her wheelchair into the chapel. This request could be heard several times a day. A little less than a year after her move, on October 8th, 1967, Sr. Mary of the Angels went to be with her Lord for all eternity. As per her request, she was buried next to her sister, Mother St. Patrick.
Sr. Mary Catherine
Mary Carmel Theresa Romanelli, in Religion Sr. Mary Catherine, was born in Philadelphia and entered the London monastery in 1914. She was a lay Sister and worked very hard all her life doing manual work to keep the community functioning. She was always very cheerful and willing to help out in any way she could. She had a ready smile for everyone, especially novices. Sister Mary Catherine passed away on April 9th, 1968.
Sr. Mary of the Sacred Heart
Rose Clarke, in Religion Sr. Mary of the Sacred Heart, was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. and came as a postulant to London where she made her profession. She gave all that she had to being a Sister Adorer of the Precious Blood, but after only 7 years she became ill and later needed permanent hospitalization. She spent many years hospitalized in Iowa where she passed away on March 6th, 1968. Her body was brought back to London in order to be interred at St. Peter’s Cemetery.
Dorothy Catherine Fitzgerald, in Religion Sr. Philomena, was born in Ottawa and entered in London. She spent the last years of her life confined to her bed as she suffered greatly from arthritis. However, she had the privilege of having Mass said in her room on several occasions. Sister loved her community and enjoyed the time she spent with those who came to visit her. She was always so appreciative of all they did for her. The Sisters, on their part, were happy to spend some time in her presence where so much love and fun could be found. Before dying, Sr. Philomena was able to renew her vows and receive the Papal Blessing. She passed away on November 3rd, 1970, a month so special to her. It was in November that she was born, entered the monastery, made her Profession, and finally went to be with God.
Sr. Mary Gregory
Frances Verna Morrissey, in Religion Sr. Mary Gregory, was born in Roxbury, MA and entered in Manchester before moving to Hamilton and taking her first vows there. Sister was no stranger to travel as in her years as Religious she was asked to move 11 times! She was privileged to serve in Manchester, Hamilton, Bellevue, London, Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Winnipeg, serving in some monasteries more than once. Sister suffered very much during her religious life and passed away at the young age of 44 on February 11th, 1970.
Sr. Alice Raphael
Alice Victoria Thurston, in Religion Sr. Alice Raphael, was born in New Jersey and moved to Cobourg with her family at a young age. She had a business education and thought of entering the Sisters of St. Joseph but upon the advice of her Director she entered the Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood instead. Sister spent 40 years in the Toronto monastery, having as her principal duties work in the kitchen and in the studio. In 1966, she moved to London where she spent the remainder of her years.
Sr. Alice Raphael was admired for her spirit of poverty as well as her sense of humour and constant smile. She passed away on May 13th, 1972.
Sr. Mary Alphonsus
Mary Jane Dionne-Murphy, In Religion Sr. Mary Alphonsus, entered in London and had many duties in her time as a Sister Adorer of the Precious Blood. She was Superior in Vancouver, London and Hamilton and also spent several years as Infirmarian. Christmas 1974 was special for Sister as the Pope was opening the Holy Year. It was a wonderful day for her and she enjoyed the festive atmosphere and the company of her fellow Religious. However, that night she suffered a heart attack and a little less than 12 hours later, on December 26th, 1974, was able to celebrate the Christmas season in Heaven. Sister Mary Alphonsus was a kind person, able to make the sick in her care laugh. She also had a true appreciation for benefactors.
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Sr. Mary St. Clare
Anna Krauskopf, in Religion Sr. Mary St. Clare, had originally planned to follow in her sister’s footsteps and become a Sister of St. Joseph. However, she was refused because of her health. After speaking with Mother St. Patrick and being encouraged by her she decided to become a Sister Adorer of the Precious Blood. She served for many years in London working in the kitchen and laundry and was later asked to continue with these duties as foundress of the Bellevue monastery. It is told that one day she cooked for 100 pilgrims who had planned on coming to Bellevue but never showed up! Sister was a hard worker throughout her 63 years of service. When she passed away on September 30th, 1980, so many wanted to come to her funeral that, to her sister’s pleasure, it was held in the Sisters of St. Joseph’s Motherhouse Chapel.
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Sr. Marie Bernadine
Sr. Marie Bernadine Uhlenkott was born in Oregon and later took her vows in Vancouver before spending time in both the Bellevue and London monasteries. She was a very gentle and quiet person who enjoyed making others laugh, especially through her play on words. She was able to serve the community as Mistress of Novices and as Secretary General. She was very kind to her novices, and gave them an example of generosity and self-sacrifice. Sister Marie Bernadine suffered from cancer and in her last days on earth she was privileged to have the Blessed Sacrament in her room. On April 23rd, 1986, Fr. John Comiskey came to give her the Church’s blessing. She passed away only 30 minutes later.