Thursday, January 12, 2023
Mass of the Resurrection, 10:30 a.m.
Church of Our Lady of Loretto
Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana
Visitors are welcome; please adhere to mask and social distance guidelines while in the church.
You may view the livestreamed Mass on YouTube.
Read the memories shared at Sister Esther's funeral.
Sister M. Esther, CSC
(Judith Ann Black)
July 23, 1939–December 19, 2022
We share news of the death of Sister M. Esther (Black), CSC, who died at 4:25 a.m. on December 19, 2022, in Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana. Sister Esther entered the Congregation from Lisle, Illinois, on August 1, 1957. Her initial profession of vows took place on August 15, 1960.
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.
The Sisters of the Holy Cross were part of the spiritual biography of Sister Mary Esther (Black) from the very beginning. On August 1, 1957, two friends entered the Sisters of the Holy Cross at Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana. Upon reception of the holy habit in 1958, Judith Ann Black became Sister Mary Esther. Sister Mary Ann Uebbing wrote this obituary in recognition of her friend, Sister Esther, who lived faithfully for 62 years as a vowed woman religious. Sister Esther was 83 years old when she died after a long illness on December 19, 2022, at Saint Mary’s Convent.
To the delight of her parents, Francis “Felix” and Ida (Verrington) Black, Judith Ann was born in Chicago on July 23, 1939. She was the firstborn of four, followed by Patricia, Leonard and John. The family home was across the street from St. Theodore Church. The Sisters of the Holy Cross taught in St. Theodore School, where she graduated in 1953. As a young girl, Judy enjoyed chasing the family dog while romping in the snow.
The Sisters of the Holy Cross were good friends of the Black family. Judith Ann’s mother served as a driver for the sisters. Judy was especially fond of Sister M. Lourdes (Kelly), CSC, who died in 2019. Another revered figure taught Judy piano, Sister M. Lucille (Weber), CSC, who died in 1984. As a freshman at Maria High School in Chicago, Judy met life-long friend Mary Ann Uebbing. They shared families and friends together. Mary Ann credits Judy with introducing her to the Sisters of the Holy Cross. The girls both enjoyed being with the sisters and were pleased to “babysit” the convent while the sisters were attending meetings. Judy and Mary Ann did volunteer work at the Catholic Guild for the Blind. They taught themselves how to read and write Braille. The Black family had to move to Pueblo, Colorado, for a year to provide a better climate for her sister Patricia, who suffered from asthma. They returned to Chicago but soon moved to Lisle, Illinois, where Judy graduated from Sacred Heart Academy in 1957.
Judy was skilled at playing the violin in the high school orchestra and was quite active bicycling, playing badminton and volleyball. She remained a reader all her life. Judith Ann Black and Mary Ann Uebbing remained friends through correspondence and occasional visits.
After her first profession of vows in February 1960, Sister Esther spent a year as a student teacher at Saint Mary’s Campus School, Notre Dame. Then followed 11 years working in several elementary schools in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. Her expertise was in the primary grades. In addition to her Bachelor of Science degree in 1967 from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Sister pursued graduate studies, receiving a degree in 1974 as a school psychologist from the University of St. Francis in Fort Wayne, Indiana. For the next 17 years, she successfully served in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, consulting with parents and students from kindergarten to grade 12. Sister Esther did diagnostic testing, often discovering learning disabilities in the student or related psychological challenges. Many parents were grateful for the support she gave to their children.
Ministry and friendship often intersected in Sister’s life. Sisters Esther and Mary Ann were both missioned to Most Holy Redeemer School in Evergreen Park, Illinois, which had a School for the Blind. Their youthful skills with Braille served them well. Sister Esther deeply admired Sister M. Ligouri (Bertha Feltes), who taught the blind and died in 1997.
In 1991, Sister Esther moved to her family home in Lisle, Illinois, and cared for her sick mother. During this time, she came to know her nieces and nephews very well and enjoyed being their loving aunt, supporting them in their many achievements. She was grateful for this opportunity. Upon her mother’s death in 2003 and after a short period of transition, she began her ministry as sacristan in the Church of Our Lady of Loretto. She loved this ministry. A sacristan is a silent presence in the background but her hand was visible in her artistic skills. She made beautiful floral arrangements and displays. Though soft-spoken, she enjoyed giving tours of the church to the many visitors who came. Her failing health, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, which shut down the tours, necessitated her leaving this ministry. She moved from Madonna Convent to Saint Mary’s Convent in 2019, where she lived until her death.
Sister Esther was a quiet person who could laugh at herself and enjoyed playfully teasing others. Faithfulness and loyalty would describe her relationships with others. She was especially good at accompanying the sick and dying. She was well known for her arduous work in discovering her own family’s ancestry as well as assisting others in researching their families’ histories. She loved to crochet and produced many a scarf, hat or afghan. Sewing was also another skill. She is, indeed, another one of God’s beautiful children.
From childhood, Sister Esther loved everything about “church” and had a great love of the Blessed Sacrament. How fitting that her last active ministry was serving 15 years as the sacristan of the Church of Our Lady of Loretto, Saint Mary’s, the church where her Mass of the Resurrection will be celebrated.
We invite you to donate to the Ministry With the Poor Fund in Sister’s name.