Sister Kathryn Callahan, CSC

(November 25, 1930 - May 10, 2012)

Word has been received of the death of Sister Kathryn Callahan, who died at 12:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 10, 2012, in Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana.

No matter whom you talk to — sister, priest, brother, nurse, friend, housekeeper, secretary, doctor or CEO — all describe Sister Kate as a kind, loving and compassionate religious woman. Though she was always warm, gracious and generous with everyone, at her core she was a very private person. Being a self-described introvert, she was relaxed and comfortable within her own person. This deep calm was evident in the manner in which she dealt with the many challenges she met in the multiple responsibilities placed on her shoulders during her 60-plus years of dedicated religious life.

With grace and integrity Sister Kate exercised her numerous congregational leadership roles, as a regional superior, a member of the General Council and an area coordinator. Sister Joan Elizabeth Johnson was a member of Sister Kate’s regional council and praised her for “honesty, forthrightness, clarity, concern, faithfulness and a sense of humor” in dealing with the responsibilities of the office. This was reflected in Sister Kate’s paramount concern for the peace and happiness of the sisters, and they were grateful for her empathy. Her skillful leadership in implementing the greater use of technology in the congregation’s archives department led to the development of more comprehensive and retrievable records. She also was an active member of the Holy Cross History Association and served as co-secretary-treasurer for many years. She used her organizational talents to compile the collection of all the presentations given at the annual conferences.

Nursing was Sister Kate’s first love. Her skills as a nurse and then as a director and teacher in the various schools of nursing greatly benefited each hospital where she served. The young nursing students under her care became dear to her and she nurtured them with gentle guidance. She became their mentor and friend, frequently offering a shoulder to cry on or a hug of reassurance. They loved her and depended on her support and counsel.

Creativity and motivation belong in any description of Sister Kate. She was a self-taught enthusiastic learner in many areas. She was intrigued with the capabilities of modern technology and taught herself computer skills and programs that many others would find daunting. Learning the intricacies of quilting, such as stitching, selecting fabric and color harmony, was another enticing challenge she enjoyed. This, as with other skills, was not a passing fancy; her beautiful quilts were works of art that were snatched up at the Christmas boutique. Her generosity in sharing any and all of these talents was part of her charm. However, her dry sense of humor added even more to her delightful and warm personality. Her wit was so subtle that the joy of unlocking her humor might sometimes be missed without sharp ears and close observation to catch the twinkle in her eyes or the meaning of a clever remark.

Sister Kate’s compassionate nature and deep spirituality were reflected in her special devotion to three saints: St. Anne, mature, tender and caring; St. Therese of Lisieux and her “little way,” with attention to detail and her humility; and St. Teresa of Avila, a woman whose prayer life had great depth resulting in an intimate union with God — these qualities were mirrored in Sister Kate’s life. She now takes her myriad talents and endearing personality traits to the heavenly kingdom where she reaps her well-deserved reward. May she rest in peace.


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