In loving memory…

Sister Marilla (Dyer), CSC

Sister Marilla (Dyer), CSC

Memorial Mass:

Read the memories shared at Sister Marilla’s memorial Mass.

Thursday, November 12, 2020, at 10:45 a.m. 
The memorial Mass was livestreamed. 
Click here to view the video.

Funeral Arrangements:

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Church of Our Lady of Loretto
Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana

Prayers: 10 a.m.

Immediately followed by the Rite of Committal with Final Commendation, Our Lady of Peace Cemetery

Sister Marilla (Dyer), CSC
(Mary Marie Dyer) 

September 3, 1920—May 9, 2020

Word has been received of the death of Sister Marilla (Dyer), CSC, who died at 1:20 p.m. on May 9, 2020, in Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana. Sister Marilla entered the Congregation from Salt Lake City, Utah, on January 30, 1944. Her initial profession of vows took place on August 15, 1946.

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.

Mary Marie Dyer was the oldest of three children of Herbert Clinton Dyer, a rancher, and Nellie McRae, a homemaker. Born on September 3, 1920, in Kemmerer, Wyoming, Mary Dyer was quick to note that her birthplace was the original headquarters of J.C. Penney Company, Inc., and one of its first J.C. Penney department stores. Years later, as Sister Marilla, she was a teacher during the week and on Saturdays the ever-practical convent stewardess, who attended to errands, managed the house accounts and drove other sisters to do their shopping.

When Mary was 7 years old, the Dyer family moved to Idaho and then settled in Utah. She first met Holy Cross sisters at Saint Joseph Grade School in Ogden. North of Salt Lake City, Ogden was described in the 1930s as the center of Catholic culture in the state of Utah, not to mention the provincial house of the Western province of the Sisters of the Holy Cross.

Prior to entering the Congregation, Mary Dyer attended courses at the University of Wyoming, Laramie, and taught school in Alto, Wyoming. She returned to Ogden in the early 1940s and was a supervisor at the U.S. Army supply depot during World War II. Having a high sense of responsibility and civic duty at 23 years old, she felt she needed to ask permission of her boss to leave a job devoted to the war effort before entering the convent for even greater service. She lived 99 years, more than 73 of them as a vowed woman religious. 

Her brief exposure to teaching in Wyoming was a prelude to her teaching ministry as a Sister of the Holy Cross, which spanned 47 years in seven Western states. In 1947 Sister graduated from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana, with a bachelor’s degree, and she earned her master’s degree in 1965 from Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles, California. Sister Marilla wrote in an autobiographical profile that her greatest joy was her service in elementary and secondary education as a teacher and administrator. In addition to her full-time work in education, Sister Marilla found added joy as a eucharistic minister, bringing communion to nursing home residents and assisting with weekend retreats at Our Lady of the Mountains Retreat House in Ogden.

In 1987 Sister Marilla, having spent years as convent stewardess, was asked to manage the central supply store of Holy Cross Shared Services at Saint Mary’s, which she did for eight years. From 1995 to 2004, Sister Marilla ministered at Our Lady of Holy Cross Care Center, San Pierre, Indiana, as part of the Sister Presence Program. When Sister's health declined, she retired to the motherhouse at Saint Mary’s and embraced her new assignment to a ministry of prayer.

On Sister Marilla’s 95th birthday, Sunee Fleshman, a former Saint Mary’s College student who had made the acquaintance of Sister Marilla, showed up at Saint Mary’s Convent with lavender, silver, pink and white balloons to celebrate the occasion. Sunee said, “When I think about the blessings her presence brought to my life, it’s hard to imagine how many more lives she must have touched in 95 years of life! I wanted to celebrate that.” Reaching 99 years, Sister Marilla continued to touch more lives until God called home this faithful woman and stewardess, whose gifts have returned a hundredfold.

It is not known why the infant Mary Marie Dyer was baptized with two names in honor of the Blessed Mother. Very appropriately, Sister bore another variant of Mary in her religious name, Sister Marilla. In the month of Mary, on an unseasonably chilly but sunny Saturday afternoon, Sister Marilla died in Saint Mary’s Convent on May 9, 2020. The sisters at the motherhouse gathered soon after for a scheduled devotional service in honor of the Blessed Mother and included Sister Marilla in their prayers. Sister is now welcomed into God’s household with the Risen Christ, his mother and all the saints.

We invite you to donate to the Ministry with the Poor Fund in Sister’s name.

—Written by Sister M. Adria (Connors)