Thursday, September 1, 2022
Mass of the Resurrection, 10:30 a.m.
Church of Our Lady of Loretto
Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana
Visitors are welcome; please adhere to mask and social distance guidelines while in the church.
You may view the livestreamed Mass on YouTube.
Read the memories shared at Sister John Margaret's funeral.
Sister M. John Margaret, CSC
(Mary Frances Dietzen)
January 25, 1943—August 25, 2022
We share news of the death of Sister M. John Margaret (Dietzen), CSC, who died at 5:25 p.m. on August 25, 2022, in Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana. Sister John Margaret entered the Congregation from Danville, Illinois, on September 4, 1960. Her initial profession of vows took place on August 15, 1963.
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.
On August 25, 2022, the Gospel reading at Mass opened with Jesus saying to his disciples, “Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come” (Matthew 24:42). These words rang true for Sister M. John Margaret (Dietzen), as God unexpectedly came for her later that evening. She was a faithful and prudent servant for almost 60 years as a vowed Sister of the Holy Cross, one who expressed her love for God every day through her ministries involving education and retired sisters.
Mary Frances Dietzen’s life began on January 25, 1943, in Danville, Illinois, as the youngest of John W. and Margaret (Leven) Dietzen’s five children. Her Catholic family was loving, kind and strong in their commitment to God. They would spend almost every evening praying the rosary together for their family, those who were ill, and people around the world. Mary Frances could not remember a time when her parents turned away someone in need. When a Hungarian refugee came to their door, the Dietzens did not hesitate in letting him reside with them until he was able to find work and a place to live. Mary Frances inherited her parents’ generosity, which influenced the trajectory of her life.
The thought of becoming a sister circled Mary Frances’ mind throughout her early teenage years. Due to her older brother, Father John, being ordained in 1954, and her older sister, Sister Catherine Dolores, CSC, entering Holy Cross in 1950, Mary Frances’ interest in the religious life started at a young age. She began discerning her vocation during her junior year at Schlarman High School in Danville. After much prayer, Mary Frances knew that God was calling her to become a religious. She liked the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart teachers at her grade school, St. Joseph’s in Danville, but she felt particularly drawn to the Sisters of the Holy Cross, who taught her at Schlarman High School. She found the Holy Cross sisters to be warm, friendly and inviting, and it resonated with her that the sisters were always around if a student needed help.
A few months after graduating high school, Mary Frances entered the Sisters of the Holy Cross, Notre Dame, Indiana, on September 4, 1960. Upon reception of the holy habit, she became Sister Mary John Margaret, in honor of her parents.
Sister John Margaret dedicated 27 years of her life to teaching second through fifth grades at schools in Indiana and Illinois. She was the principal of Holy Cross School in South Bend, Indiana, from 1980 to 1983, and then from 1983 to 1988 at Saint Joseph School in Harvard, Illinois. In addition to teaching religion, language and literature at St. Monica School in Mishawaka, Indiana, Sister John Margaret aided the school administrator as assistant principal from 1988 to 1992. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education in 1965 from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, and a master’s degree in education from Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana, in 1973. Inspired by her Holy Cross teachers, her desire to always be present to help her students shaped her into an exemplary educator.
After studying gerontology for a year, Sister John Margaret began her ministry with retired sisters in 1993. She coordinated activities such as parties, outings and exercise programs for a year at Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, before serving as superior of Rosary Convent from 1994 to 2000. She also assisted residents and staff in whatever capacity was needed for six years at St. Paul’s Retirement Community in South Bend. After a year of transition, Sister John Margaret maintained a presence on the oncology floor of St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, South Bend, as well as provided help to sisters at Saint Mary’s Convent from 2008 to 2010. She served as the Angela Area Coordinator for four years before volunteering her service to the community at Saint Mary’s. Since 2015, she had been spending 10 hours a week ministering at the Sister Maura Brannick Health Center in South Bend.
When Sister John Margaret had time to relax, she could often be found reading, listening to music, or walking, especially around the local mall. Her love for music endured throughout her life. She could play the violin, piano and organ, the latter of which she performed on at her hometown parish as a teenager. When time allowed, traveling and seeing new places was one of Sister John Margaret’s favorite things to do. Considering herself “not too risky of a person,” she surprised herself while on sabbatical in Australia in 2001 by standing at the rim of a volcano and venturing into the glow-worm caves. She lived her life as fully as possible, grateful for every day that God gave her.
Even though Sister John Margaret’s death came as a shock, despite failing health, she was ready to meet her God face to face. He gave her the strength to live every day to the fullest, but just as she was called to become a Sister of the Holy Cross, she was called home to heaven (1 Corinthians 1:8-9). May she rest in peace as she reunites with her parents, siblings and Holy Cross sisters who have preceded her in death.
We invite you to donate to the Ministry With the Poor Fund in Sister’s name.—Written by Madisen Toth, archivist