Sister Mary Cecile Ihle, OSB

August 16, 1924 - May 6, 2016

Sister Mary Cecile IhleSister Mary Cecile Ihle, OSB, 91, a Benedictine sister of Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison, Kan., died Friday, May 6, 2016, at the monastery. The vigil service will be Monday, May 9, at 7 p.m. in the monastery chapel, and the Mass of Resurrection will be celebrated there Tuesday, May 10, at 10:30 a.m.

Sister Mary Cecile was the second of three children born to Bernard and Wilhemina (Minnie) Kleba Ihle in Paris, Ark.  After graduating from St. Scholastica Academy in Fort Smith, Ark., she earned a music degree at Mount St. Scholastica College. She made her monastic profession in 1948 and then taught in parish schools in Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado and Iowa. After receiving a master’s degree in Spanish from the University of Kansas, she taught Spanish at Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kan., from 1963 to 1971. She pursued further studies at universities in Spain and Mexico and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Later she served as a parish minister and musician at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Topeka, Holy Cross in Overland Park, Kan., and St. Pius X in Mission, Kan. From 1984 to 1994, she was assistant director of the Intensive English Program at Donnelly College. After returning to the monastery, she was a piano instructor at the Mount Conservatory of Music for several years.

Sister Mary Cecile was preceded in death by her parents, her brother Robert Ihle and her sister, Sister Eugenia Ihle, O.S.B. She is survived by a niece, Janice Roark of Linn Creek, Mo., cousins, and her monastic family. Becker-Dyer-Stanton Funeral Home  is in charge of arrangements. Memorials may be sent to Mount St. Scholastica or made online at the Mount’s web site.

Reflection for the Vigil for Sister Mary Cecile Ihle, OSB

May 9, 2016

By Sister Elaine Gregory, OSB

As we come together to celebrate during this Easter time, the life of Sister Mary Cecile Ihle, we offer in the name of the Mount community, sympathy to her relatives and friends and also to the sisters of our community.

Margie Ihle was born in Paris, Arkansas, to Bernard and Kathryn Ihle, and joined her sister Mary Kathryn and her brother Robert to complete the family.

As a newborn baby, Margie was baptized at St. Joseph Church in Paris, Arkansas. She began her nearly ninety two years of life as a beloved child of God and temple of the Holy Spirit, a special friend of the Risen Lord.

Last March 17, following the funeral of Father Kieran McInerney, Sister Mary Cecile and I had a short visit in which I shared details of the funeral service. She recalled that as college students, she and the then Jim McInerney were dance partners in the joint college presentation of the operetta “The Merry Widow.” She concluded with, “We looked forward to the practices.” This was a glimpse of the genteel, gracious, southern lady we knew as Sister Mary Cecile.  The lilt in her voice, the spring in her step, and her enviable posture are part of our memory of her.

Following her early education in the Catholic schools in Paris and Fort Smith, Arkansas, Margie attended Mount St. Scholastica College.  

Upon graduation she took ‘the road less traveled,’ and entered in 1947 the novitiate of Mount St. Scholastica, where her sister, Sister Eugenia, was a member.  Thus began her 69 years of prayer and work as a Benedictine sister.  Following her profession of vows in 1948, she began her ministry of teaching music and Spanish and working in the ESL Program at Donnelly College.  She inspired her students by her prayerfulness, her quiet voice, and her gracious ways.

Jesus did not tell us that we would not have problems, pain, or suffering but that he would be with us in the midst of it all.  

Times of overwhelming sorrow came in Sister Mary Cecile’s life.  Within the two-year period of 1964 and 1965 she experienced the deaths of her mother and father as well as the tragic drowning accident of her brother Bob.

Years later her sister, Sister Eugenia, suffered a debilitating disease and died, leaving her as the only surviving member of her immediate family.

Sustained by prayer, the strength of the Bread of Life, the Risen Christ with us, and with the love of friends she continued to live the dying and rising, the Paschal Mystery.

Jesus told us, “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him will have eternal life and I shall raise him up on the last day.” (Jn 6:40).

Throughout the years Sister Mary Cecile heard and lived the words of St. Benedict summarized in the Prologue of the Rule: “We shall run on the path of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing as we progress in the way of faith with inexpressible delight of love.”

We are reminded of the words of Luke’s Gospel, “Were not our hearts burning within us as he talked with us,” as they we walked with the Risen Jesus on the road. 

St. Benedict further says in the Holy Rule, "Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ and may He lead us all together to everlasting life."

Caryll  Houselander said, "The only condition for finding and recognizing the risen Christ today, is that we love him:   not power, chance, or virtue but only love."

We pray in the words of the poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, "May we let God easter in us – be a dayspring to the dimness of us."

A few weeks before her death, Sister Mary Cecile spoke to one of the sisters of the glory of heaven. "How wonderful heaven must be, there to join my mother and daddy, my sister Genie, and Bob."

On the evening of Ascension Thursday, Sister Mary Cecile began the last lap of her life’s  journey. The sisters kept vigil with her through the night. The following morning she breathed her last and entered into eternal rest.

From the second reading of this evening the words of Paul: "We know that Christ, being raised from the dead will never die again."

And so we are comforted that with Christ, Sister Mary Cecile will never die again, but is enjoying eternal life.