Sister Ruth Evelyn Mauch, CSC
(Sister M. Ruth Elaine)
December 9, 1935–July 18, 2022
We share news of the death of Sister Ruth Evelyn Mauch, CSC, who died at 6:35 p.m. on July 18, 2022, in Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana. Sister Ruth Evelyn entered the Congregation from Hammond, Indiana, on September 7, 1953. Her initial profession of vows took place on August 15, 1956.
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.
If Sister Ruth Evelyn Mauch had her way, she would have died in Brazil, where she accompanied the Brazilian people for 45 years. Instead, Sister died in Saint Mary’s Convent at age 86 after a long illness.
In 1990, Sister Ruth Evelyn had already ministered for 26 years in pastoral work to the poor in the Archdiocese of São Paulo in Brazil. At that time, she said her deepest desire was “to become more radically dedicated to the impoverished and despised of this world and help them to discover the God who is Liberator and walks with them.” Though American-born, she became a Brazilian citizen because she wanted to live in solidarity with the people. They had become “her” people (Ruth 1:16-17). She had been aptly named by her parents at birth.
Ruth’s parents, Joseph Edward Mauch and Mary Eugenia (Raycroft) Mauch, had four children. Ruth was born in Gary, Indiana, the middle girl between her two sisters, Jean Elaine and Kathleen Joanne. Her brother, Leo Edward, the youngest child, died soon after his birth. She grew up in Hammond, where she attended All Saints Elementary School and Bishop Noll High School. Immediately after graduating from high school in 1953, having been taught by the Sisters of the Holy Cross, she applied for entrance to the Congregation. She said her motivation was the desire to serve the God she loved.
At reception of the holy habit in August 1954, she received her name in religion, Sister M. Ruth Elaine. From 1956 to 1964, she was a teacher in Catholic elementary schools in the Midwest while earning a Bachelor of Arts in education from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana, in 1964. The schools in which she taught were the following: Holy Cross School, South Bend, Indiana; St. Joseph’s School, Harvard, Illinois; St. Patrick’s School, Danville, Illinois; and Saint Mary’s Campus School, Notre Dame.
Although a successful teacher, Sister had initially wanted to become a nurse. This goal changed when she learned that there was a need for sisters to minister to the people of Brazil who lived in poverty. In 1964, still known as Sister Ruth Elaine, she began her first year of ministry to the underprivileged in Brazil, which was to last until 2010 with a break for a sabbatical year. By 1970, she had asked to return to her baptismal name and was known as Sister Ruth Evelyn Mauch. Her first assignment in Brazil was as principal of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Grade School in Paraná while she also worked with other Holy Cross sisters in rural chapels of the very large parish. After five years, she moved to Our Lady of Hope Parish in Cidade Dutra, São Paulo. Here, she began working with base ecclesial communities, an outgrowth of Vatican II. This ministry to small Christian communities within large parishes involved teamwork with others and included education in liturgy and the Bible. Active engagement for the welfare of people on the margins of society and protests on their behalf became a part of her life. She suffered the loss of many friends, priests and workers, who were victims of injustice. After ministering in the Archdiocese of São Paulo for 37 years, she continued similar ministry in the new diocese of Janauba, Minas Gerais, in Brazil for the next eight years.
During her time in Brazil, she recognized her need for a period of spiritual and personal renewal, along with further Scripture study, and received permission for a sabbatical year in 1991. This program consisted of a five-month intensive Hebrew scripture study program in Israel offered by the Catholic Theological Union based in Chicago, Illinois, followed by residence and classes at the union.
Because of health issues, Sister Ruth Evelyn first moved to the Vila Nazaré convent in São Paulo, Brazil, in 2006. Then four years later she left her adopted homeland with great sorrow and retired to Saint Mary’s Convent. Sister M. Francine (Klein), CSC, remembering her own years in Brazil, was present with Sister Ruth when she died in the early evening. Only an hour before, Sister Maryanne O’Neill, CSC, had come to pray and sing a song for her. Now, Sister Ruth experiences God’s reign in joy as she continues her advocacy for the poor, especially for those of her beloved Brazil who live under the skies of the Southern Cross.
We invite you to donate to the Ministry With the Poor Fund in Sister’s name.—Written by Sister Grace Shonk, CSC