sister mary lou mckinney


August 2, 1931 - November 10, 2010

Sister Mary Lou McKinney, bright, cheerful, outgoing, sad at times, friendly and, as she described herself, "perky," is an elusive personality in some respects. She loved the Sisters of St. Joseph and her religious vocation, but her life at times was filled with deep sadness, especially with the loss of her parents and some troublesome misunderstandings. But she also knew joy in teaching and her outgoing personality endeared her to those she served.

S. Mary Lou was born in Columbia, Mo. Her parents, Roy and Margaret Schoenauer McKinney, were very young when she, their only child, was born. For most of her childhood, S. Mary Lou lived in Jefferson City. She had a Catholic upbringing, attending Immaculate Conception Elementary School and St. Peter High School. She loved the sisters who taught her, the Incarnate Word Sisters and the School Sisters of Notre Dame. But her childhood dream of wanting to become a sister led her to the Sisters of St. Joseph, and quite by accident.

After considering a possible long-term relationship with Jack; after taking and passing an entrance exam to nursing school, and even after considering the Maryknoll Community, she settled finally on becoming a Sister of St. Joseph, to whom she was introduced by her spiritual director who happened to be the brother of S. Rose Adele Schuerman, the postulant mistress for the Sisters of St. Joseph. S. Mary Lou entered the community on September 15, 1950. On March 19, 1951, she received the habit and name Sister Margaret Michael.

S. Mary Lou's life as a Sister of St. Joseph put her in touch with all kinds of people and took her to many places. She was an elementary teacher, a religious education coordinator, and a community service organizer and volunteer. These three aspects of her life filled her days with joy, some difficulty, a variety of experiences, travel, and other opportunities for growth and grace.

S. Mary Lou loved teaching, especially primary grade children. It was her first love, at which she spent over 20 years. Most of her teaching was in St. Louis at parish schools, but she also taught in Peoria. A significant number of years, beginning in 1972, she spent as a religious education coordinator, again mostly in parishes in the St. Louis area, but also in Denver, and in Alton and Litchfield, Ill. Part of these years S. Mary Lou lived in Rolla while traveling to five rural parishes. For her, that mission was exciting and wonderful as she instructed adults about what it means to be a religious educator.

The last years of her active ministry were certainly varied. She took on the role of job developer for an inter-congregational endeavor in St. Louis; she was a training specialist for the St. Louis Re-employment Services program; as rapid response coordinator, S. Mary Lou informed recently unemployed persons about the Worker Re-Entry Program in Kirkwood; in Denver she directed the Colorado Regional Development Office for the St. Louis province; later she volunteered for the Literacy Program in St. Louis and offered her time and service in several capacities as needs arose. 

S. Mary Lou's life was filled with ups and downs, with great joy, as well as sorrow and difficulty. Her friend, S. Maureen Langton, greatly appreciated the time S. Mary Lou spent with her and her willingness to help out at the time of S. Maureen's moving. S. Mary Lou had wanted to volunteer with S. Maureen in the Home Care Program for Deaf Elderly, but her own health concerns prevented her from doing so. She retired to Nazareth Living Center in 2008.

Summarizing her life S. Mary Lou said, "I did so many different things, and I thank God daily for being with me and helping me." May S. Mary Lou enjoy eternal happiness in God and with her beloved parents.

S. Rita Louise Huebner

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