In Memoriam


Sister Thomas Leo Monahan, OP

(1929-2020)

When we reflect about our Aunt, three words seem to stand out:
-selflessness
-leadership
-kindness

Her selflessness made her the amazing and unforgettable nun we all know. Her strong leadership as a principal was proven over her 38-year tenure at Visitation and [she had a] kindness and ability to make everyone she met feel comfortable and important.

Colleen Monahan Hoffman and Kathy Monahan Brannon were describing their aunt, Sister Thomas Leo Monahan, in a remembrance for Sister’s wake service in November 2020. They also shared fond memories of their “Aunt Toots” coming for visits at their grandparents’ summer home in McHenry, Illinois, her love of cats and McDonald’s hamburgers, and the way she “always wanted to hear what you had to say.”

“Toots is an unusual name for a nun and we’re not sure where it came from, but its uniqueness fits the woman we all know and love,” the two nieces’ remembrance concluded. 

Kathleen Alice Monahan, the future Sister Thomas Leo, was born on September 20, 1929, in Chicago to Roy and Kathryn (Devine) Monahan. She was one of seven children in the family, along with four brothers – William, James, Robert and John – and two sisters, Jean and Lois.

Read more about Sister Thomas Leo (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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Avatar  Yvonne Valentino 2 months agoReply

I am deeply saddened by the loss of Sr Thomas Leo. I was a graduate of Visitation and always felt loved, cared for and well educated under her care. She personally took the time to know all of her students and our families. I remember going into the convent and playing with the cats while my mother and Sister would talk. She always had an open door to all of her students and we all knew that. She gave the structure and discipline to her students that lacks nowadays. She kept all of us kids in line without ever raising her voice. We knew she deserved respect and that all she wanted was her students to be the best possible young adults after they left her school. I remember being in cheerleading and we had to have our routine approved by Sister before we could perform it to the parents and fellow students. She always wanted us to act like children of God while still having fun. We represented her and our Lord. I was blessed to be a student during the time Father Dominic Valentino served as our Pastor. The two of them were a dynamic duo. They laughed a lot, loved their parish and school, made both a warm and welcoming place to worship and learn and made all of us feel like we were one big family in Christ. She taught us so many lessons that I still carry to this day. She was an amazing person and the world has lost a true Catholic, a saint on Earth, who helped the less fortunate of our parish, cared for the stray cat that would roam the area just looking for a meal. There isn’t enough that I could write to express how truly selfless Sister Thomas Leo was in life. I tell my children all the time how lucky I was to have nuns lead and teach in our school growing up. Sister showed us how to have faith stronger than fear and compassion that knows no limits. She loved our Blessed Mother and with the help of Fr. Valentino made a glorious May Crowning that I still remember to this day participating in prior to graduating. I’m sure when she was welcomed home to Heaven our Blessed Mother was there with open arms.

Avatar  Yvonne Valentino 2 months agoReply

I am deeply saddened by the loss of Sr Thomas Leo. I was a graduate of Visitation and always felt loved, cared for and well educated under her care. She personally took the time to know all of her students and our families. I remember going into the convent and playing with the cats while my mother and Sister would talk. She always had an open door to all of her students and we all knew that. She gave the structure and discipline to her students that lacks nowadays. She kept all of us kids in line without ever raising her voice. We knew she deserved respect and that all she wanted was her students to be the best possible young adults after they left her school. I remember being in cheerleading and we had to have our routine approved by Sister before we could perform it to the parents and fellow students. She always wanted us to act like children of God while still having fun. We represented her and our Lord. I was blessed to be a student during the time Father Dominic Valentino served as our Pastor. The two of them were a dynamic duo. They laughed a lot, loved their parish and school, made both a warm and welcoming place to worship and learn and made all of us feel like we were one big family in Christ. She taught us so many lessons that I still carry to this day. She was an amazing person and the world has lost a true Catholic, a saint on Earth, who helped the less fortunate of our parish, cared for the stray cat that would roam the area just looking for a meal. There isn’t enough that I could write to express how truly selfless Sister Thomas Leo was in life. I tell my children all the time how lucky I was to have nuns lead and teach in our school growing up. Sister showed us how to have faith stronger than fear and compassion that knows no limits. She loved our Blessed Mother and with the help of Fr. Valentino made a glorious May Crowning that I still remember to this day participating in prior to graduating. I’m sure when she was welcomed home to Heaven our Blessed Mother was there with open arms.

Avatar  Lisa Porter Clark 3 months agoReply

So very sorry to hear that Sr. Thomas Leo has recently passed. I remember her well as my teacher at St. Columbanus school back in the late 1960's. Great teacher. She was strict, fair, and she was so dedicated to her students. I spoke to her about 28 years ago when she was principal at Visitation. I was amazed that she was still in education instead of having retired. Beautiful lady, rest in peace.

Avatar  Paul Carney 3 months agoReply

I remember sister as a very kind person with a keen sense of humor and clever wit. I knew her for 13 years as the Elmhurst Police DARE Officer at Visitation. She always supported the program even when some questioned its value. She always made me feel part of the Visitation Family which I will always cherish. She is gone from our sight, but never from our hearts. RIP Sister.

Avatar  Peggy Noldan 3 months agoReply

Sister Thomas Leo was wonderful. MY younger daughters Jenny and Maggie graduated from Visitaion Grade School. While attending our family experienced a tragic loss. My niece Annie passed away suddenly from an undiagnosed brain tumor at the age of 12 years old. Our family for 17 years ran a 5K run to raise money for a chilren's center for kids who have been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Sister Thomas Leo rallied the kids of Visitation and their families for years to become a major component of the success of our run!
Her love for children was endless!
God Bless you Sister!
Peggy Noldan

Avatar  The Ryans 3 months agoReply

The Ryan family sends our sincere condolences to the family of Sr. Thomas Leo along with our gratitude for her 40ish years of service to Visitation school, parish and community. She taught Two generations of Ryan’s and truly made a lasting impression on our family. We consider Sister to be our modern day saint as she truly performed miracles on a daily basis. I spent a lot of time with her during my grade school years, mainly in her office due to my insatiable mischief, and really learned so much about life. She pulled me from the wrong path and showed me the way to the right path. I honestly believed she SAVED me and I owe her so much in return.

I have so many great memories of her so I will only share this. One of my favorite memories of Sister was the time when she was able to convince our pastor, now Bishop Siegel, to allow the Men’s Club to have our Annual March Madness Party on Holy Thursday. This fundraiser generated significant proceeds which were used to provide the faculty a supplement to their salaries. Father Siegel called Rich Frolik and I into an abrupt meeting once he saw our ad in the church bulletin for the fundraiser. He stated that “you do know it’s Holy Thursday “ and asked if we could change the date or not have the Event. In walks Sister who calmly explained to Father the importance of the fundraiser and simply stated “If Jesus can have his wine then why can’t the men have their beer”. With that Father said ok.

Sister was a remarkable person who spread her love and life lessons to all of us fortunate people who chose Elmhurst and Visitation as their home. I hope and pray that she continues her great work while looking down upon us and wish her all of the happiness and joy of eternal life. Thank you!!

Avatar  Carole Staunch 3 months agoReply

I had the fortune of teaching at Visitation School under Sr. Thomas Leo’s leadership from 1978-1985. After leaving Vis and moving east and then back to Illinois, we kept in contact throughout the year. She inspired me to get a master’s degree in Ed. Administration. She was very gracious and giving of her time and wisdom. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

Avatar  Jon m jensen 3 months agoReply

Greetings*! It would be so nice if you werevto post of the sisters as they pass with a picture in their habit! I was educated by the Adrians beginnibg 62 years ago! Would help us recognize them! I owe much of what i did in life to you! I received a super education st. St. Pats in St. Charles. Livef three houses from the mount! Would always go and help! Thank you all! Blessings!

Avatar  Elaine Foley 3 months agoReply

Sr. Thomas Leo was my 8th grade teacher 1963/64. She opened my eyes to the love of history. A love I have to this day. No one could ever hope to be as much of a baseball fan as Sister, but she did teach me a little Math after school one day by showing me how to figure out Earned Run Average and lifetime batting average. However I never did become much of a Baseball fan. God Bless you Sister,, and thank you.



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