sister mary reinhart

February 28, 1932 - March 3, 2016

Compassionate, welcoming, cheerful

Aloysius and Irene (O'Neil) Reinhart of Green Bay, Wisconsin welcomed their daughter, Mary, February 14, 1932.  Though she was well acquainted with the Sisters of St. Joseph through attending St. John’s School and St. Joseph Academy, she also had an aunt in the Community, Sister Margaret Reinhart.  Her aunt was on the faculty of St. Teresa College in Kansas City which Mary attended for a year before entering the Sisters of St. Joseph September 15, 1951.  March 19, 1952, she received the habit and the name Sister Ann Irene.  For a few months in 1954 Sister Ann Irene taught Primary at St. Louis School, Englewood, Colorado.  In 1955 she was sent to Immaculate Conception School in Montgomery City, Missouri.  She continued teaching primary at Sts. John and James, Ferguson, Missouri (1958).  Sister earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Fontbonne (1961).

In Houston, Texas, Sister taught junior high math at St. Rose of Lima (1962-1969).  “I had two marvelous superiors there, Sister Ludmilla [Gansmann] and Sister Francis Clare Buergler.  And it was very good for me to go down there to the south in Texas.  It was beautiful….  I loved it down there.”     S. Ann Landers lived there with S. Ann Irene for three years (1966-69).  “We hit it off immediately!  She helped me with ideas for primary and art, and she came to my classroom several times to teach an art lesson.  We worked through the change into regular clothes, had laughs making our veils, etc….  Ann was present at my final vows at my home parish in Peoria… and many other events too numerous to mention. She was a good friend.”

Receiving a master's degree in guidance from St. Mary's University, San Antonio (1970), she then became a guidance counselor at the Academy of Our Lady, Peoria, Illinois.  After some time in transition in the early 1970s, Sister Mary served as a parish visitor for St. Peter's Parish, Kirkwood, Missouri (1974).   In 1980 she volunteered at St. Vincent and Bellin Hospitals in Green Bay, returning the following year to St. Louis as a patient representative/counselor at Lindell Hospital.

Sister Mary’s early community years were burdened with a number of family deaths: in 1952, an aunt, her 23 year old brother and her mother.  Over the next several years this continued with her grandmother, an uncle and then her dad.  Getting help to work through her grief enabled her to tap into her own reservoir of empathy and compassion.  She discovered within herself the capacity to be attentive to others in their grief or anxiety, setting the course for her next ministry.  Completing requirements for CPE certification (1983), Sister Mary became a chaplain at St. John’s Mercy Hospital, Washington, Missouri until she took a sabbatical in San Francisco (1991).  Then she became Chaplin at Province Hospital in Columbia, South Carolina (1992-2007).  

Although I lived with Mary only a brief time in 1994… I remember both her friendliness and her ‘cheerful outspokenness’.  Mary was fearless in making her own view known if she thought someone was speaking unjustly.  With no rancor or without an opinionated remark, she would simply state what she thought a more just interpretation of what was being spoken about.  She had a cheerfulness about her that was always welcoming whenever we met.” – S. Ida Berresheim

Retiring in Augusta (2007), she continued in volunteer ministry at Trinity Hospital.  “Mary lived in Columbia South Carolina … and worked at a hospital there doing pastoral care.  She really enjoyed it and would come to the sectionals in Augusta.  She eventually came to live in Augusta … [And] also worked in pastoral care there….  Mary could be great fun and had a very dry sense of humor.” – S. Francis Rita Voivedich

In 2009 she moved to Nazareth Living Center to minister in prayer and presence.

Helen Oates, CSJ

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