sister michael white

July 14, 1924 - September 22, 2016

A compassionate woman, an empathetic listener, keen to learn, prayerful

Reed and Mary Agnes (Burke) White, of St. Louis, Missouri, welcomed their second daughter, Patricia, July 14, 1924. In time, two more daughters and two sons also arrived. Needing space, the growing family moved frequently. In fact, Patricia went to six different grade schools—five staffed by CSJs.

Her maternal grandparents, born in Ireland, greatly influenced her life, partly because when Patricia was nine, her mother was killed in a tragic accident. During a rare trip, her parents traveled to Chicago with friends. Their car was broadsided by a car of robbers trying to get away. Mrs. White was badly injured and died 10 days later. Mr. White was left to raise six children, ranging in age from 12 years down to 11 months.

Patricia began high school at St. Mark’s, then switched to boarding school at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in
St. Charles. When she graduated at age 16, she wanted to enter the Religious of the Sacred Heart. The postulant mistress told her she was too young. She went to Maryville College for a semester before deciding it wasn’t for her. Eventually, she went to secretarial college and found work. She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph (Sisters Anne Loyola and Regina Clare were her aunts) on September 15, 1944. She received the habit and the name, Sister Michael Josephine, on March 19, 1945. Her bachelor’s degree in elementary education was from the University of Dayton (1959) and her master’s in elementary education from
St. Louis University (1967).

Sister Michael taught elementary grades at Assumption,
St. Louis and at St. Matthew, Mobile, Alabama, (1947). In 1953, she went to St. Theresa in Honolulu, Hawaii and then to Holy Rosary, Paia, Maui (1958). She taught at St. Elizabeth, Kansas City, Missouri (1959); St. Agnes, St. Louis (1960); St. Mary on the Hill, Augusta, Georgia (1962); and St. Philip Neri, St. Louis (1964). Sister Michael served as principal as well as teaching at St. Edward in St. Louis (1966) and did the same at St. Louis in Englewood, Colorado (1968).

In 1973, she ministered as a staff member at the Carondelet House of Prayer in St. Louis. After that, she served as administrator at St. Joseph Convent in Marquette (1976). She was in campus ministry at Michigan Tech University, Houghton in 1979 and at the Catholic Student Center, Marquette (1981). Returning to Hawaii in 1983, she was a pastoral associate at Holy Trinity Parish, Honolulu. After a brief sabbatical, S. Michael became secretary at St. Cecilia School, St. Louis (1988). She retired in 1998, but in 1999, she responded to a need at Nazareth Living Center (NLC) for a community life bookkeeper. After a bout with cancer, she moved into the ministry of prayer and presence at Nazareth Living Center (2005).


My mother, Marie McDowell, lived in McGovern Commons … for approximately five years. Mom had Alzheimer’s disease and would not wear her shoes ... I was trying to find the socks with the rubber tread soles so Mom would not slip. Sister Michael gave me a pair and Mom wore them constantly ... I also remember Sister Michael holding my hand as I exited the chapel at the end of Mom’s funeral ... Her love touched my mom’s life and mine.
—A. Patrick McDowell

Michael was a great bridge player. She played every Wednesday afternoon here at NLC. She only stopped playing just a few months before her death when she could no longer tell the difference between the diamonds and hearts or the clubs and spades. She felt she was slowing down the game too much by having us tell her which card had been played.
—S. Audrey Olson

I experienced her as such a gentle and loving person.
—S. Ann Pace

Sister Helen Oates

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