Sister Leo Joseph Koester, CSC

(March 13, 1926 - August 20, 2012)

Word has been received of the sudden death of Sister M. Leo Joseph (Koester) who died at 4:55 p.m. on Monday, August 20, 2012, in Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana.
Sister Leo Joseph was a dedicated religious and felt strongly about faithfulness to her vow of obedience.  She was always willing to go wherever she was sent.  Her goal was to be of service no matter what the ministry might be, and she approached each one with loving zeal that endeared her to all she served.
Sister Leo Joe, as her friends lovingly called her, was also nicknamed “Twin” as was her sister, Sister Mary Margaret (aka Sister Leo Irene, now deceased).  The twins entered the congregation together and received a combination of their parents’ names at reception:  Leo Joseph after their father and Leo Irene after both mother and father.
The twins had a very close and special bond, not unusual for twins, their devotedness to each other and to the members of their close-knit family was a joy to see.  However, when it came to personalities, the twins were the opposite sides of the same coin.  Sister Leo Joseph was introspective and retiring while Sister Mary Margaret was light-hearted and outgoing; they were truly a complement to each other. When Sister Mary Margaret died in 2008, her loss was felt deeply by every family member, but none felt it as acutely as “the other twin.”  Even recently, Sister Leo Joseph spoke of how she missed “Twin” but said she often felt Mary Margaret’s presence especially at prayer.
Because of Sister Leo Joseph’s strong inclination to be of service to others, the field of nursing was certainly an appropriate ministry for her.  Her first 34 years were spent as a registered nurse in health care in the hospitals and infirmaries of the Midwest.  But even after leaving health care she continued to give her time and talents to serve the needs of the congregation in various internal ministries.  She never put herself forward, but was quietly efficient and organized.  Whether serving in the sacristy of the Church of Our Lady of Loretto, overseeing the housekeeping staff in the Solitude Retreat Center, working in the congregation development office or coordinating the duties of the information desk, which including greeting guests and taking care of their special needs, she was always gracious and cordial.  In all, she was at her best in a one-on-one relationship.
Sister Leo Joseph was a good listener and kept any confidence shared with her as a sacred trust.  The depth of her personality was often obscured because of her unassuming nature.  Her empathy and caring gave wonderful support and consolation to each of the sisters who, in their last illness, felt the strength of her presence and prayers as she sat with them in their last hours.  What a gift of giving.  She was a gem.
Saint Joseph was her spiritual friend and patron.  The many statutes and pictures she had attest to that, but she got her own inner strength from her great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.  Love of the Eucharist and hours spent in prayer in the chapel were her spiritual reservoir of energy.  The rosary was her lifeline to the Blessed Mother and it was rarely out of her hands.  When she could no longer minister actively, her prayer was her gift though which she continued to serve others; a hallmark of Sister Leo Joseph’s generous spirit.
Funeral arrangements for Sister Leo Joseph are as follows:  reception of the body and wake on Wednesday, August 22, 2012, at 4 p.m.  The Mass of Resurrection will be on Thursday, August 23, 2012, at 10:30 a.m.  All of these ceremonies will take place in the Church of Our Lady of Loretto.  May Sister rest in peace.


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