Tuesday, October 10, 2023
Memorial Mass: 10:45 a.m.
Church of Our Lady of Loretto
Notre Dame, Indiana
Visitors are welcome.
Friday, September 22, 2023
Prayer Service: 1 p.m.
Church of Our Lady of Loretto
Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana
Immediately followed by the Gathering to Receive the Body with Final Commendation
Sister M. Charles Allen, CSC
(Alma Madelon Reynolds)
May 18, 1933 — September 21, 2023
We share news of the death of Sister M. Charles Allen (Reynolds), CSC, who died at 3:40 a.m. on September 21, 2023, in Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana. Sister Charles Allen entered the Congregation from Danville, Illinois, on September 7, 1951. Her initial profession of vows took place on August 15, 1954.
Please join us in prayer for Sister as we renew our faith in the resurrected Jesus and strengthen our hope that all the departed will be raised to eternal life.
While Sister M. Charles Allen (Reynolds) felt ready to begin her eternal life in heaven, she was hopeful to be alive for Christmas and hold her nephew’s infant son one more time. Even in the night prior to her death, Sister Charles Allen was confident that come the holiday season, she would get to see her grandnephew. She died just a few hours before sunrise on September 21, 2023. She was surrounded by sisters and staff who lovingly supported her in presence and prayer as she was welcomed into God’s arms.
Born to James and Alma (Bailey) Reynolds, Alma Madelon Reynolds began her journey of life on May 18, 1933, in Danville, Illinois. She was named after her mother, but preferred to be called by her middle name as she grew older. She most likely inherited this trait from her father, as he was known throughout his life by his middle name, Allen. Madelon had one older brother, James Allen Jr., and one younger brother, Jon. As an independent and imaginative child, she sought adventure through books that sparked her imagination, such as the Limberlost series by Gene Stratton-Porter. She spent much of her childhood creating her own adventures in her backyard, where she would wander through the myriad flowers and plants and imagine she was running through a jungle.
After attending a public elementary school, Madelon went to the newly built Schlarman High School in Danville. In addition to being on the girls basketball team, she is remembered by teachers and classmates for her performance in the school’s production of I Remember Mama. Madelon discerned her vocation throughout her teen years. She immediately knew upon meeting her Holy Cross teachers that she wanted to become a sister like them. On September 7, 1951, three months after graduating high school, Madelon entered the Sisters of the Holy Cross in Notre Dame, Indiana. Upon reception of the holy habit, she became Sister Mary Charles Allen. She was named in honor of her father and Father Charles B. Motsett, the pastor of her parish and a family friend.
For the first 12 years of Sister Charles Allen’s ministry, she was an elementary school teacher. She was missioned to teach second through seventh grades at schools in Indiana, Illinois and Arizona. During this period, Sister Charles Allen earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, in 1966. Of all her assignments, she found her time at St. Cyril School in Tucson, Arizona, to be a particularly special adventure. She loved being able to see the mountains, desert and unforgettable sunsets. Despite being a Midwesterner at heart, she definitely enjoyed the experience of sunny and 70-degree weather on Christmas.
In 1972, Sister Charles Allen was called to serve as treasurer for what was then called the Midwest Elementary Region. After a three-year term, she resumed her graduate studies at Northeast Missouri State University in Kirksville, Missouri, where she graduated in 1976 with a master’s degree in aesthetic education.
Sister Charles Allen’s active imagination from childhood continued into adulthood, as she served as an avid art teacher for 18 years. After completing her graduate studies, she taught art in parochial schools across Illinois and Indiana. She was passionate about teaching art to her young students. She believed that learning art was necessary, and “the expression of art is part of being fully human.” For more than 15 years, Sister Charles Allen taught art to children in kindergarten through eighth grade at St. Paul’s School in her hometown of Danville. She garnered a reputation at Saint Paul’s for creating elaborate art exhibits, which were anticipated and loved by students and faculty alike. As a testament to her lasting impact on the school, other art teachers continued these exhibits after Sister Charles Allen had left the school in 1992.
Sister Charles Allen remained in Danville from 1992 to 2010. At St. Paul’s Parish, she coordinated the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and the parish’s food pantry, as well as assisted with pastoral care. As a result of her many years of spiritual work and service to the community of Danville, she received the papal medal, Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, from Pope Benedict XVI in 2007. She was honored by the award, and reflected that “this award is really meant for all of the Holy Cross sisters who have ever served Danville.”
After more than 30 years of being missioned to Danville, Sister Charles Allen moved to the motherhouse at Saint Mary’s in 2010. She had been assisting with pastoral care to elderly sisters until her passing. Sister Charles Allen was grateful for her blessed life as a Holy Cross sister and for the ability to spend the last years of her life in community at Saint Mary’s. In A Girl of the Limberlost, Gene Stratton-Porter writes, “With some people it makes a regular battlefield of the human heart—this struggle for self-expression. You are going to do beautiful work in the world, and do it well.” Sister Charles Allen did not struggle to live by this quote. She did beautiful and meaningful work throughout her long life, and she will be greatly missed by those who were fortunate to know her.
We invite you to donate to the Ministry With the Poor Fund in Sister’s name.
Written by Madisen Toth, archivist
Sisters of the Holy Cross Archives and Records