sister alice hein, csj


(S. John Chrysostom)

June 13, 1921 - October 17, 2017

Gentle, kind hearted, accepting of difficulties

Alice Hein was born June 13, 1921, the oldest of seven children of John and Martha (Powers) Hein of Unity, Wisconsin. Alice attended school in Unity until her family moved to Ringle, Wisconsin, where she completed seventh and eighth grades. Her mother was not well at the time, so Alice stayed home to help her family for the next three years.  She completed one year of high school in Wausau, “and then I had the privilege through my mother’s uncle of going to St. Joseph’s Academy in Green Bay as a border. So, I finished my high school there.”  She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph on September 15, 1941, and was received as Sister John Chrysostom on March 19, 1942. Her bachelor’s degree in home economics was from Fontbonne College (1960) and she received a master’s in elementary education administration from St. Louis University (1966).

Sister Alice’s ministry in education began with the Menominee Indians at St. Joseph Indian Industrial School in Keshena, Wisconsin (1944).  Sister Alice said, “It was a boarding school, so we not only taught the kids, but we lived with the kids. We got up with them; we took care of them; and we taught them in school, and took care of them after school; put them to bed at night.”

In 1953, she moved to St. Louis where she taught at Holy Name School, followed by St. Anthony of Padua (1958).  For her next two assignments, Sister Alice was both teacher and principal at St. Rita in St. Louis (1960) and St. Mary’s in Hannibal, Missouri (1963). 

The following year, she taught in O’Fallon, Missouri, at St. Barnabas. At St. Patrick’s in St. Joseph, Missouri, (1965), she was again both teacher and principal, returning to full-time classroom teacher at St. Louis in Englewood, Colorado (1968). Her next 20 years of teaching were spent in Kansas City, Missouri at: Northeast Consolidated Catholic School (1971) and St. Stephen’s Academy (1984). 

Sisters Paulette Gladis and Joan Tolle, who lived with Sister Alice in two different cities over 20 years apart, remember S. Alice as a very good cook.

 Sister Marilyn Peot remembers:

How caring and sensitive she was. After over 35 years, I still have a vivid memory of her standing at the top of the stairs. It was 11 p.m. and I was just getting home. I presumed she was disturbed, possibly angry, when I heard, ‘It is very late!’ I reminded her that there were times my ministry would take me out in the evening. And then she added, ‘But I've been worrying about you.’ The rest of the year a special something developed between us.

Sister Alice retired in 1991 and remained in the Kansas City area. She volunteered at St. John’s Center. Sister Marion Renkens shares: 

Knowing that S. Alice had a green thumb [since] she had a great garden in her backyard, I asked her to keep the indoor plants at St. John’s alive. The plants thrived under her care and attention … I was deeply appreciative of her dedication to St. John’s. When S. Alice celebrated her 50th jubilee in 1998, I invited her to join the St. John’s staff for Mass and lunch.  Little did she know that we were honoring her 50 years as a CSJ. S. Alice was very surprised, especially since I invited a dear priest friend of hers to celebrate the Mass.

In 2001, she moved to Nazareth Living Center in St. Louis to carry out her ministry of prayer and presence.  While she was there, Sister Patricia Murphy noted how "accepting she was of her limited vision and her aching body. I never heard her complain.”

By Sister Helen Oates

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