Sister Mary Edith, CSC
(Helen Teresa Daley)
November 12, 1915–January 17, 2020
Word has been received of the death of Sister Mary Edith (Daley), CSC, who died at 4:15 a.m. on January 17, 2020, in Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana. Sister Mary Edith entered the Congregation from Davenport, Iowa, on August 1, 1937. Her initial profession of vows took place on February 2, 1940.
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 Mary Edith was born Helen Teresa Daley on November 12, 1915, in Rock Island, Illinois, the daughter of Thomas Francis Daley, a wholesale grocer, and Mary Margaret Eick, a homemaker. Helen Teresa worked as a bookkeeper for a few years before entering the Sisters of the Holy Cross, Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana, at 21 years old.
When applying to the convent, she described her natural disposition as “tranquil.” Letters of recommendation noted her good judgment and common sense in addition to her high ideals and suitability for religious life.
From 1940 to 1971 Sister Mary Edith taught English, music and choral singing in Catholic elementary and secondary schools throughout Indiana and Illinois. From 1971 to 1974 she served as the Midwest secondary regional superior of the Sisters of the Holy Cross. As regional superior she desired to assist sisters in rediscovering faith in themselves and one another. The sisters revered her as a good major superior.
In 1971 the Synod of Bishops met in Rome, Italy, and produced a document called “Justice in the World.” The bishops declared action on behalf of justice as a constitutive dimension of the Catholic Church’s mission in the world. Along with other regional superiors, Sister Mary Edith spearheaded the challenge to advance the cause of justice and liberation of the poor and oppressed via education and other concrete action in the Congregation’s ministries and sponsored institutions. She inspired other sisters to reconsider their ministries in the light of justice.
After 40 years of uninterrupted ministry, Sister Mary Edith took a sabbatical in 1980 and studied at Regis College, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. This respite and renewal stoked her zeal to render 27 additional years in active ministry in South Bend, Indiana. From 1981 to 1984 she served at Saint Joseph High School as assistant to the director of Development and as director of Information Services.
From 1985 to 2008 Sister Mary Edith became associated with the Forever Learning Institute (FLI) which was founded by Father Louis J. Putz, CSC, who saw a need for intellectual stimulation and meaningful activity for older adults. FLI was sponsored by Catholic Charities Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and is currently located at the Parish Center of St. Thérèse, Little Flower Catholic Church, South Bend. Sister served as executive director, was involved in ongoing curriculum development, and in semi-retirement, served as a consultant for its reorganization. Father Putz praised her leadership and competent direction as reason for the institute’s “amazing progress” as a model for other older adult educational facilities in Texas, Kansas and California. No wonder Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana, bestowed the Spirit of Service Award for Volunteerism on Sister Mary Edith in 2007, commending her as a lifelong advocate for the cause of social justice in area neighborhoods.
On January 17, 2020, just before the sun rose against a crimson sky, Sister Mary Edith died in Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, where she had been devoted entirely to a ministry of prayer since 2008. Sister was 104 years old, a vowed woman religious for 80 years, 16 days short of her initial profession anniversary when she made forever the simple vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, promising to persevere until death in a life consecrated to God while serving God’s people.
We invite you to donate to the Ministry With the Poor Fund in Sister’s name.
—Written by Sister M. Adria (Connors), CSC