Monday, December 23, 2019
Church of Our Lady of Loretto
Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana
Visitation: 9:15 a.m.
Prayers in the Presence of the Body: 10:15 a.m.; Mass of the Resurrection to follow
Sister Estelle Marie (Farrell), CSC
(Stella Eleanor Farrell)
September 8, 1918 – December 19, 2019
Word has been received of the death of Sister Estelle Marie (Farrell), CSC, who died at 4:30 a.m. on December 19, 2019, in Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana. Sister Estelle Marie entered the Congregation from Los Angeles, California on July 30, 1946. Her initial profession of vows took place on February 2, 1949.
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.
Sister Estelle Marie (Farrell), CSC, went home to God just before dawn during the third week of Advent when the Catholic community anticipates with joy the coming of Christ into human history—past, present and future. Sister will be enjoying Christmas with her family of birth and with those Sisters of the Holy Cross who preceded her in death. Sister M. Agatha Ann (Farrell), CSC, her sibling, died at the beginning of this year on January 25th.
Stella Eleanor Farrell was born in Warren, Arizona, on September 8, 1918, the third of seven children born to Jeremiah Farrell, an auditor, and Louisa Huston Farrell, a homemaker and bookkeeper. In 1923, the Farrells moved to Los Angeles, California, where they set down roots in Saint Agnes Parish.
Prior to entering religious life, Stella lived through the Great Depression of the 1930s, and was employed at the War Department during the 1940s while also working in the business world as a personnel manager, administrative assistant and secretary. At the age of 27, Stella Farrell heard God’s call and entered the Sisters of the Holy Cross in July 1946, having been educated by the sisters in her home parish. Upon reception of the holy habit on February 2, 1947, she received her name in religion, Sister Estelle Marie. In her first years of ministry she used her clerical skills in Holy Cross hospitals in Fresno, California and Salt Lake City, Utah.
In 1950, she began 30 years in elementary education as either a teacher or principal in Holy Cross schools in California and Utah. It was said that Sister Estelle Marie really understood the needs of the children. Long after her retirement, Sister Estelle Marie was delighted when a visitor arrived with a baby in arms. She was equally an excellent master teacher for those she mentored. “She was always the valiant lady, always kind and helpful; one of my Holy Cross models,” one sister remembers. Sister Estelle Marie responded immediately to the renewal of the Second Vatican Council, and provided her faculty and parents with ongoing education and formation in the spirit of the council, opening new opportunities for teachers to teach and students to learn. Her interest in a sabbatical when she was in her eighties was based on her desire for “holistic balance” in life. She was ever the learner herself.
In an autobiographical note, Sister Estelle Marie wrote: “I do not see myself as a visible leader but have found I do influence people more by what I do and say.” Her quiet influence was apparent to those who assigned her to leadership roles in education and later in healthcare. In the 1970s, Sister Estelle Marie had an increasing sensitivity to the needs of families dealing with the illness of loved ones. Her experience, along with that of her siblings in caring for their father, planted a seed for her to change from education in 1980 to becoming a pastoral care intern in Saint Agnes Hospice, Saint Agnes Medical Center, Fresno, California. The internship confirmed her initial interest and sustained skill in hospice ministry in Fresno and later in North Hollywood where she directed a facility now known as Providence St. Elizabeth Care Center.
Sister retired in 1999 to Saint Catherine by the Sea, Ventura, California, moving to Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana, in 2004 where she lived out her ministry of prayer until her death at Saint Mary’s Convent at age 101. Sister Estelle Marie was a quiet, reserved woman who found it easier to write her truest feelings. She did not want a memento or eulogy at her funeral. While still very vibrant she wrote, “My passages of life have gone by quickly…. I look back in time and realize that there is an invisible thread which unites each one of life’s episodes … somehow related to preparing me for the future. As a future event becomes the present moment, I am in some way better able to accept—to adapt—to grow and change. I am anticipating the future with interest and hope.” Sister Estelle Marie had always fully embraced her future, one filled with hope, who is God-with-Us, Emmanuel.
We invite you to donate to the Ministry With the Poor Fund in Sister’s name.
Written by Sister M. Adria (Connors), CSC