Thursday, May 13, 2021
Mass of the Resurrection: 10:45 a.m.
Church of Our Lady of Loretto
Notre Dame, Indiana
Sister Michael Marie's funeral was livestreamed. View the recorded service.
Sister Michael Marie, CSC
(Mary Lois Williamson)
December 23, 1924–May 4, 2021
We share news of the death of Sister Michael Marie (Williamson), CSC, who died at 7:02 a.m. on May 4, 2021, in Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana. Sister Michael Marie entered the Congregation from Sewickley, Pennsylvania, on January 24, 1948. Her initial profession of vows took place on February 2, 1951.
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 Michael Marie died at the beginning of the day shift at Saint Mary’s Convent when the floors were fully staffed and ready to minister to the sick. She once was a nurse administrator in the residential facility for Sisters of the Holy Cross who needed long-term care. The day before she died, those who had entered the convent with her in 1948 kept vigil for her in prayer. Sister Michael Marie was the “mother” of their entrance band, Our Lady Queen of Peace. She had been the one to arrive first at the novitiate. Neither did Sister linger at the hour of her departure from this life. Having prepared to see the divine physician, she hastened to meet him when he called her by name.
Whether in life or in death, one’s name is precious. A small, white 2”x 3” card was kept as a memento by Sister as a novice when she received it at the altar on her knees one February morning in 1949. Typed on one side of the card was the name Lois Williamson. The reverse side confirmed her new name in religion, Sister Michael Marie. Upon rising, ready to enter full-heartedly into the novitiate of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, she thanked God that her religious name honored her parents, John Michael Williamson and Marie Hegner Williamson. Most likely, she tucked that card into her prayer book and remembered in daily petition her parents, three brothers and maternal grandmother, who had lived with the family in Lois’ birthplace, Sewickley, Pennsylvania. In that small town west of Pittsburgh also resided a large extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins.
Lois Williamson was already a registered nurse when she entered the convent at Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana, in January 1948, having graduated from Mount Carmel Hospital School of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio, the year before. In a note to Mother M. Constantine (Ryan), CSC, Eastern provincial, Lois expressed gratitude for the “fine teaching and example of the Sisters at Mount Carmel” and the joy and happiness she felt in Holy Cross. It was Mother Constantine who maintained a strong belief in her, despite some medical issues which had arisen from a softball injury in college several months prior to entering Holy Cross. After returning to Mount Carmel for a medical assessment, she gradually improved under the care of the doctors and the sister nurses. Today’s novices could take heart in Mother Constantine’s advice, “If God wants you to be in Holy Cross, God will find a way.” God did find a way and Sister Michael Marie fulfilled her vocation “to love and serve God more perfectly in the care of His sick.”
Sister Michael Marie was fully prepared professionally to instruct student nurses in Holy Cross hospitals in Idaho, Utah and California from 1951 to 1967, having completed a Bachelor of Science in nursing at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana, in 1951 and a Master of Science in nursing administration at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1964. Sister’s primary assignment was Saint Mary’s Convent at the motherhouse for 20 years, 1967–1987, as director of nursing services. During that period, from 1978 to 1979, she earned a clinical specialty in geriatric nursing from Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. From 1988 to 1996, she was assigned to Our Lady of Holy Cross Convent in South Bend as the assistant superior and nursing administrator in the Moreau Region facility for retired sisters. In short, Sister Michael Marie brought her administrative and business skills to ministry in various positions of leadership, lastly in 2000–2005 as Area councilor for retirement communities and as administrative staff member at Saint Mary’s Convent until 2006. From then on, she considered herself in “pre-retirement,” keeping company with her sisters and devoting herself to the ministry of prayer for the Congregation and its healing mission. Sister Michael Marie is said to have inspired the practice of placing the names of the sisters in formation on a vocation calendar. In this way, the entire Congregation prays daily for those discerning their vocation as a Sister of the Holy Cross.
Sister was a proud Red Cross volunteer nurse. During this time of global pandemic, we pray that health care workers be strengthened in their good works and that public health be supported as a human right.
Sister Michael Marie’s name will now be listed among our Congregation’s beloved dead so we can remember her with affection on the anniversary of her death. May her ministry of healing continue in Holy Cross in ways old and new.
We invite you to donate to the Ministry With the Poor Fund in Sister’s name.—Written by Sister Catherine Osimo, CSC