In Loving Memory…

Sister Mary Eliza (Martin), CSC

Sister Mary Eliza (Martin), CSC 

Funeral Arrangements

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Mass of the Resurrection, 9:30 a.m.
Church of Our Lady of Loretto
Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana

Sister Mary Eliza, CSC
(Garno Elizabeth Martin)

April 7, 1929—July 4, 2024

We share news of the death of Sister Mary Eliza (Martin), CSC, who died at 7:45 a.m. on July 4, 2024, in Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana. Sister Mary Eliza entered the Sisters of the Holy Cross from Folsom, California, on July 28, 1946. Her initial profession of vows took place on August 15, 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.

During Sister Mary Eliza’s 2009 celebration of her jubilee of 60 years as a professed Sister of the Holy Cross, she quoted William Stafford’s poem “The Way It Is” in her reflection at Mass. “There’s a thread you follow. It goes among things that change. But it does not change.” Sister Mary Eliza said her relationships are what anchored her throughout her life, and “the awareness of God’s unconditional love is the thread I want to grasp.” Sister had hoped to celebrate her diamond jubilee of 75 years at a community celebration in late July when she died at 95 years old in Saint Mary’s Convent the morning of July 4, 2024. She held onto that thread to the end.

On April 7, 1929, Garno Elizabeth Martin was born to Charles Martin and Elizabeth Ann Kipp in Sacramento, California. She had one younger brother, Joseph Williams, who survives. Garno was raised in the small town of Folsom, located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and just over 20 miles west of Sacramento. After attending public school in Folsom, she transferred during her sophomore year of high school to Holy Rosary Academy in Woodland, California, where she met the Sisters of the Holy Cross. The sisters inspired her with their kindness and selfless nature. A few months after graduating in 1946, Garno entered the Sisters of the Holy Cross in Notre Dame, Indiana. Upon reception of the holy habit seven months later, she became Sister Mary Eliza.

In 1948, Sister Mary Eliza began her education ministry at Saint Mary’s School in Michigan City, Indiana. After a year in Michigan City, she spent the following 30 years in junior and senior high schools across California and Utah. Her analytical and scientific mind made her an effective teacher of biology, chemistry and algebra. In 1960, while teaching at Judge Memorial Catholic High School in Salt Lake City, Utah, she earned her bachelor's degree in elementary education from Saint Mary of the Wasatch in Salt Lake City. Sister Mary Eliza also earned her master’s degree in biology in 1967 from the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana. In addition to teaching at Central Catholic High School in Modesto, California, she served as the school’s assistant principal from 1974 to 1979.

While a student at the University of Notre Dame, Sister Mary Eliza became interested in research and health care through the National Science Foundation Fellowship Program. She acted upon this interest after teaching for a year at the University of Portland in Portland, Oregon, and began doctoral studies in 1980 at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles. From 1982 to 1988, Sister Mary Eliza received additional training in gerontology from the Andrus Gerontology Center at USC. Following her graduation in 1988 with a PhD in sociology, she joined the staff of Kaiser Permanente in Pasadena, California, as a senior research associate, engaging in evaluation research associated with long-term care of the elderly for four years.

Sister Mary Eliza’s leadership and clear communication skills prepared her for service in the western United States as the Area I Coordinator for the Congregation from 1992 to 1999. During her term, she was the senior planning and development specialist for Kaiser Permanente for three years, and for a year she coordinated the accreditation process for Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, California. In 1999, Sister Mary Eliza was elected to the General Administration of the Congregation, a five-year term, where she served as general councilor and general treasurer. Following her term and a brief sabbatical, she served for two years as co-administrator for community life at the motherhouse of the Sisters of the Presentation in San Francisco, California. Sister Mary Eliza transitioned to an active retirement in 2007, living at Saint Catherine by the Sea, Ventura, California, where she led a book club. She and the local community enjoyed a variety of genres that ranged from geopolitical to mystery. In 2021, she moved to the motherhouse at Saint Mary’s, transitioning to a ministry of prayer and presence as her health declined due to a chronic disease she had learned to live with.

Sister Mary Eliza was a logical, intelligent and kind person who genuinely cared for the people in her life. She valued being able to work in ethnically diverse environments and encouraged people to create opportunities for themselves and others. She viewed herself as an optimist, as she believed that “faith and a sacramental orientation inspire hope.” The sisters experienced her as a consistently strong, determined, straightforward woman, who had no fear of speaking her mind in all her relationships and in decision-making chapter gatherings at every level. From July 5 to 18, 2024, the Sisters of the Holy Cross are engaging in General Chapter at the motherhouse. May the voices and memories of all the sisters’ beloved dead inspire that spirit of union that fosters their life together as participants in Jesus’ work of resurrection.

Written by Madisen Toth, archivist
Sisters of the Holy Cross Congregational Archives and Records