sister maria joseph walsh


March 19, 1933 - June 26. 2012

A Life Lived for God's Glory

No doubt S. Maria Joseph Walsh was destined to become a Sister of St. Joseph, being born on March 19, 1933, in Atchison, Kan. Baptized Georgia Josephine, she was the youngest of five children, two of whom had died very young. Family life revolved around school, where she excelled as a student at St. Benedict Parish. Taught by the Benedictine sisters, she had thought about becoming one of them, but was dissuaded by her parents.

Prior to entering the Sisters of St. Joseph, this bright young woman attended Mt. St. Scholastica College and received her degree in English. College life and its aftermath were exciting years, a time when she enjoyed dating and dancing. With her degree in hand, she taught briefly at Bishop Ward School in Kansas City. At age 23, and after having turned aside two marriage proposals, she entered the community in 1956. On March 19, 1957, she was received as S. Maria Joseph. 

After profession, S. Maria Joseph finished out the academic year at St. Agnes grade school in St. Louis. An English teacher, she taught for the next 15 years secondary students in schools throughout the province. Ever the scholar, she took a speed-reading course at St. Louis University while teaching at Rosati-Kain because she had many books to read for her English classes. She would speed read her class assignments while riding the bus to the university.

S. Maria spent 10 years at St. Teresa’s Academy in Kansas City, (1972 – 1982) serving as assistant principal and teaching English. Her work with faculty development caught the attention of the diocese of Kansas City/St. Joseph. Thus in 1982, she was tapped to become spiritual development coordinator for 50 schools. Creative and organized, she assisted principals to develop faith communities and, with the backing of the National Catholic Education Association, authored books: Inviting the Faculty to Prayer and To Bring the Good News: Spiritual Development for School Faculties. Her creative ideas were adapted by many other high schools in Kansas City.

After these productive years, God beckoned her to a different path. In 1988, after having become interested in the charismatic movement, S. Maria enrolled as a theology student at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. After earning her master’s degree, she accepted the invitation of the university to become a full-time faculty member. Thus her heart centered itself in Steubenville, where she thrust herself into teaching theology and administering the healing arts through her prayer. 

In 1997 she opened Annunciation House for women religious who wanted to study, pray and live together. She had battled cancer during those years and accepted it as an opportunity to give God glory and praise. But after 19 years in Steubenville, she was happy to hand over her responsibilities to another. S. Maria Joseph retired to Nazareth Living Center in 2007.

Always, S. Maria lived poverty and then some. She traveled lightly and could put all her belongings into one small bag. God was the center of her being. With this richness, she lived life fully and generously in relationship, whether it was traveling to the Holy Land with sisters, family, and friends; sharing her love of scripture with a candidate; accurately synthesizing information at community meetings; praying for healing; or interacting with her many students. Her life was totally given for God’s Glory. Her faith was real and strong. May she rest in peace.


S. Kathleen Karbowski

S. Rita Louise Huebner

S. Ruth Stuckel

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