Sister Mary Lourdes was born on July 4 and named Janet Marie. Her older sister Carol entered the Sisters of Mercy in 1955 and Janet followed in 1957. At her reception, Janet received the name Sister Mary Lourdes, a name she treasured because of her special devotion to Mary. When she made perpetual vows in 1965, she chose “Let me sow love” as her motto. In countless ways, her life truly reflected it.
Sister Mary Lourdes earned degrees in history from Mercy College of Detroit and Eastern Michigan University and enjoyed the ministry of education as a teacher and principal. She served in Michigan’s Catholic schools for over 40 years and as principal at St. Maria Goretti School in British Columbia, Canada, a special experience she loved to share.
In the midst of those 43 years, she enjoyed two years coordinating the community vacation house in Battle Creek. There, her gifts of hospitality and her love of nature re-energized her as well as her guests.
When it was time to slow down, she and Sister Jeanette Schneider enjoyed three years of semi-retirement in Midland. They visited homebound parishioners and brought them Communion. They enjoyed times for short trips, fishing, reading, and prayer. Many years later, she shared how hard it was to give away her fishing pole and gear.
Next, she became an assistant caregiver at McAuley Life. She soon required the use of a walker and, in time, a motorized chair, which did not limit her energetic spirit, and she often led guests through the halls with her Tigers’ pennant flying permanently attached to her motorized vehicle.
Cherished memories of Sister Mary Lourdes include her excellent cooking and abundant love for all of creation, which can be seen in her original paintings, each reflecting her free spirit.
She would sometimes rise early, pick up breakfast sandwiches and coffee at McDonalds, return to McAuley Life Center and share the meals in the gazebo, all the time watching for deer or a gaggle of Canadian geese to pass by. Visiting sisters often asked, “Where is Lourdes?” The response might be “She’s out on the grounds or down at the bridge feeding the fish,” “She’s in the chapel” or “She’s visiting a sick sister.”