Sister Christelle Conway, OSB
September 14, 1931 - June 21, 2010
Sister Christelle Conway, OSB, 78, a Benedictine Sister of Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison, Kans., died Monday, June 21, 2010, at the monastery. The vigil service will be Friday, June 25, at 7 p.m in the monastery chapel and the Mass of Resurrection will be offered there Saturday, June 26, at 10:30 a.m.
Born to Francis Michael and Clara Elizabeth Boschert Conway September 14, 1931, Sister Christelle grew up in a family of eight children in Chillicothe, Mo. There she attended St. Columban's School and St. Joseph Academy. After graduation she entered the Benedictine Sisters in June, 1949, and made monastic profession Jan. 1, 1951. At Mount St. Scholastica College, she earned the Bachelor's degree in education with a minor in mathematics. Sister Christelle taught in Panama, Iowa; in Corning, Wamego, and Horton, Kans.; in Omaha, Nebr.; and in Clyde and Kansas City, Mo. (Guardian Angels). For over 35 years she taught math either at Bishop LeBlond High School, St. Joseph, Mo; or at Mount St. Scholastica Academy, Atchison. As dean of students at both high schools and assistant to the principal, she was known for her sense of humor and sense of justice.
Sister Christelle was preceded in death by her parents; by her brothers John, Lawrence, Mike, and James Patrick; and by her sister Mary Elizabeth (Connie) Smith. She is survived by her sisters Mary Louise Haynes, Chillicothe, Mo.; and Caroline Jeffries, Kansas City, Mo.; by nieces and nephews, cousins, and by her monastic family.
Memorials may be sent to Mount St. Scholastica.
Let us remember her gratefully in our prayers.
S. Christelle's memorial card
"Sing a new song to the Lord
Who has done marvelous deeds.” Psalm 98:1
Sister Christelle Conway was the daughter of Francis Michael and Clara Elizabeth Boschert Conway and grew up in Chillicothe, Mo. Just after graduating from St. Joseph Academy there, she entered the Mount community in 1949, and made monastic profession in 1951. At Mount St. Scholastica College she earned the Bachelor’s degree in education with a minor in mathematics. She liked math, liked to see it at work, and taught it that way. She had a great love of her family, for her Irish heritage and its music, and for her monastic vocation. A faithful, witty, and compassionate friend, she was always willing to help. She spent over 35 years either at Bishop LeBlond High School in St. Joseph, Mo., or at Mount St. Scholastica Academy where she taught, was dean of students and assistant to the principal. Sister Christelle is known by her friends in community as someone who was never bored; she had the art of making things happen in community life and in the schools she served. Each year she organized an all-city Mass in St. Joseph, an event that was an example of her inclusiveness and sense of justice. A former student, now in professional life, characterized Sister Christelle by saying, “She was a teacher youwanted to please.” Let us remember her in grateful prayer.
Reflection for the Vigil Service
by Sister Constance Krstolic, OSB
1 Peter 1:3-9
This evening two families gather here to thank God for the gift of Sister
Christelle. You, Christelle’s immediate family and we, her Benedictine family. Together we comfort one another in our loss and offer this same comfort to all who loved her.
Our scripture this evening helps us to recall our friend’s role in the many schools where she ministered especially at Leblond and our Academy. Yes, she was a teacher and disciplinarian. Yes, she taught...but more than that she educated the students with whom she came in contact.
Math they learned. Life skills they embraced because of their experience with one who inclusively cared about them.
Never raising her voice, she could quiet a gym full of talking teenagers by simply raising her arms. This was exemplified in the merger of LeBlond with Christian Brothers. Boys and Christelle what a match! Even in her Dooley Center days, she was always concerned with ‘ the boys’ and who would drive the bus to get them to their game. Her spirit of gentle concern was always with her in memory of the past or in the reality of years gone by.
In our reading from Sirach, Wisdom is personified as a concerned mother who teaches her children and corrects them. This Wisdom is equated with fear of the Lord, with reverence. As Benedictines, we reverence everything in the monastery as vessels of the altar….everything….everyone. Christelle had a knack for searching out the lost, the slower students, those whom we might call a ‘hand-full.’ Once she found them, she offered them her time and concern. Always being a positive influence, she educated them in one of the basic truths of living, namely, that one can never attain wisdom without the pain of discipline and trials.
She believed that young people carry a message just by the way they are, and it is a message that needs to be heard. She listened to them with her heart and they knew it.
A story is told of an Academy student who was dismissed from school. She searched out Sr. Christelle to tell her that she was being sent home. After her visit, the girl was heard saying…. “Sister cried and said that she really liked me. She was sorry that I had to leave.” ...an experience of compassion that this young student, now adult, fondly remembers and, most likely, has passed on to others.
Being a prayerful woman of faith, her spirit was joy-filled. She heard and relied upon this joy, this echo of God’s presence within her heart.
Prayer was her life-line. And with Jesus as her Master Teacher, she allowed
herself the freedom to be firm, fair, friendly, flexible and consistent in and out of the classroom.
A few years ago, Sister Christelle was assigned the task of getting all the sisters to complete their Power of Attorney documents. Remember when she came searching for us to sign “the” papers? We had our own Hound of heaven!!
Whether it was decorating the trees at Lights of Love and cooking chili for the sisters or camping out, Christelle made life happen. It was in her nature to have fun and to organize. She enjoyed every minute of making events happen.
For her, nothing was as strong as gentleness and nothing as gentle as real strength.
Those piercing blue eyes could correct in a flash and smile with a twinkle….and speaking of smiles, she had one that would not stop!
We, here at home, walked with her as she began to walk away from us.
She taught us to be patient, to be at peace, to be together as family and friends. Throughout her life, even during these last months, she taught us that wherever there is a human being there is an opportunity for kindness.
As she walked closer to Jesus, she and we knew that the only ‘rest’ to be received was that which He could offer.
We simply waited with her. We waited and watched.
The invitation was given throughout her life to ‘come’ into the presence of God.’ She quietly responded step by step. Nothing fancy. Always simple. Trusting that in the genuineness of her faith, all would be well. And…. it is!