In Memoriam


(1923-2021)

When Mary Ellen McGuire, the future Sister Marie Therese Emery, was still an infant, both of her parents were killed in a car crash and she was placed in St. Ann’s Orphanage in St. Louis, Missouri, the city where she had been born on September 27, 1923. 

Mary Ellen was adopted at the age of three by Miss Blanche Emery, who had previously adopted eight other children, and was renamed Marie Therese after St. Therese of Lisieux. She was raised in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where Blanche was an English professor at the Normal College (later Eastern Michigan University) there and the first in the nation to teach children’s literature.

According to Sister Marie Therese’s autobiography, Blanche, who was forty-five years old when she adopted her new daughter, was condemned by many in Ypsilanti because she had adopted all those children. But she was “strong in mind and resolute in any task she decided to fulfill,” yet at the same time “beautiful, gentle, kind and thoughtful.” She built the first ranch-style home in the city so her children had plenty of space – complete with child-sized tables and chairs until they were big enough for the adult furniture – and created a library of more than two thousand children’s books for them to read.

Read more about Sister Marie Therese (pdf)

make a memorial giftMemorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221. 

 

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(1932-2021)

The Laier family farm in Lima Township, Michigan, near the city of Chelsea, was the birthplace of Helen Zita Laier, the first daughter and third-oldest child of Gustave and Rose (Merkel) Laier.

Helen was born on August 10, 1932, joining her brothers Carl and Edward. She was followed by five more siblings: Thomas, Lawrence (who died in infancy), Robert, Teresa, and Donald.

Gustave was a native of Boden, Germany, while Rose was born in Sylvan Township, Michigan, which adjoins Lima Township. The couple bought their farm in 1927, and as a child Helen explored every inch of the property with its two large barns.

She and her brothers attended a one-room schoolhouse a mile down the road, where she was the only child in her class. “In the eight years I attended that school there were never more than twelve students,” she wrote in her autobiography, adding that she was never “academically inclined” and enjoyed recess more than any school subject. “This, I think, was due to the fact that at home we didn’t play – we had to help with the work,” she wrote.

Read more about Sister Helen (pdf)

make a memorial giftMemorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221. 

 

 

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(1923-2021)

Of all the women who entered the Adrian Dominicans after having experience in the working world, at least one, Margaret Ann Swallow, can lay claim to being a real-life “Rosie the Riveter.”

Margaret Ann was born on September 30, 1923, in Alpena, Michigan, to Arthur and Mary (Mulavey) Swallow. She was the couple’s only child – a second child, a boy, died very early – although she said in an interview for her life story that she never considered herself an “only child” because many of her father’s brothers and sisters lived with her family off and on over the years once the Swallows moved to Detroit.

Arthur worked for the power company in Alpena and then was a line supervisor for Detroit Edison. The family came to Detroit when Margaret Ann was two years old, living first in St. Francis Parish and then in Gesu Parish, where she attended elementary school. She got to know two separate groups of women religious in those years: the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters who taught at Gesu and the cloistered nuns at Mary Reparatrix Convent, across the street from the school.

The Gesu schoolgirls visited the cloistered nuns, some of whom came from abroad, every Wednesday for needlework and sewing, and “on one occasion we were asked to accompany two French nuns to the dime store,” Sister Margaret Ann said. “That was an adventure for us, since the sisters could not speak English well.”

Read more about Sister Margaret Ann (pdf)

make a memorial giftMemorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221.

 

 

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(1926-2021)

In 1926, only around 830 people lived in the small town of Shepherd, Michigan, located in Isabella County about an hour north of Lansing. Among those residents were the Wischmeyer family, to which Alfreda Mary Irene, the future Sister Mary Irene, was born on August 24 of that year.

Edward and Irene (Siefker) Wischmeyer had five surviving children: Mary Irene, who was the second oldest, and four boys, Maurice, Melvin, Norman, and Amos, who would go on to become a priest. Another daughter was stillborn.

When Mary Irene was three years old the family moved to Lansing, where Edward became a foreman at the Motor Wheel Corporation. Her file does not record when he actually got this job, but a short biography written in 1989 mentions that during the Depression years her parents refused welfare benefits, choosing instead to work in the fields alongside migrant workers.

But whatever her family’s circumstances, Mary Irene had a happy childhood. “Our family was almost a community in itself, a close, loving community,” she said in a 1995 interview that served as her autobiography. A self-described tomboy, she loved sports, playing tennis and softball and enjoying ice-skating as well. Her competitive streak also showed up in the times she and one of her brothers carried buckets of cucumbers through the neighborhood, vying to see who could sell the most.

Read more about Sister Mary Irene (pdf)

make a memorial giftMemorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221. 

 


Leave your comments and remembrances (if you don't see the comment box below, click on the "Read More" link).


Cemetery of the Adrian Dominican Sisters

Our Adrian Dominican cemetery with its circular headstones is a beautiful place of rest for women who gave their lives in service to God — and a peaceful place for contemplation and remembrance. 


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