Tuesday, December 20, 2022
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 Maureen's funeral.
Sister Maureen Cahill, CSC
(Sister Marie William)
December 14, 1935–December 9, 2022
We share news of the death of Sister Maureen Cahill, CSC, who died at 7:50 a.m. on December 9, 2022, in Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana. Sister Maureen entered the Congregation from Iowa City, Iowa, on September 7, 1955. Her initial profession of vows took place on August 15, 1958.
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.
Maureen Agnes Cahill was born to Marie V. Mackey and William E. Cahill on December 14, 1935, in Iowa City, Iowa, and baptized 10 days later at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Iowa City. Her parents raised their five children on the family farm in the West Branch section of the city. Maureen was the youngest, her brothers being William, Ralph and Kevin. She had only one sister, Geraldine, who became a Sister of Social Service, Sister Georgiana Cahill, SSS.
Maureen received her elementary and secondary education in the public schools of West Branch, Iowa, graduating in 1954. She enrolled at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana, for one year until she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross on the same campus in September 1955. Maureen’s motive for choosing religious life was “love of God.” The chaplain wrote, “The most constructive thing I can report is that since making up her mind about trying to be a Sister of Holy Cross she has not approached me with any doubts, but seems quite happy in her decision. She seems to be a reserved person, but joyful.” Sister Mary Agnes (Mahoney), CSC, at Saint Mary’s College wrote, “She has evidently thought out what she has wanted to do and why because when I questioned her and proposed some things for her consideration, she had already thought about them … . I think she will be a good candidate.” Maureen Cahill thought things through, from every angle, before she spoke or challenged another’s opinion—most of the time. By old age, however, she was firm in her convictions! Maureen entered the Sisters of the Holy Cross on September 7, 1955, received the holy habit on August 15, 1956, and became known as Sister Marie William in honor of her parents. Sister made her perpetual profession three years later.
Sister Marie William began her ministry in 1958 as an elementary school teacher at St. Patrick’s School, Danville, Illinois. In 1967, she returned to her baptismal name when customs changed. Sister Maureen Cahill served in elementary education for 28 years in schools in Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. She was principal of Saint Mary’s School, Niles, Michigan, from 1974 to 1986, being well prepared for that role as her teaching years gave her experience in all the grades. She was always an advocate for the poor, for righting injustices. Such conviction impelled her to write an article for the local newspaper in Niles, advocating for tuition credit for families who sent their children to Catholic schools, even if the parents could not afford it. From 1986 to 1994, she ministered in parish religious education in Illinois and Michigan. Sister Maureen assisted the pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Streator, Illinois, in organizing the religious education programs, liturgies and adult education in three parishes. She and Sister M. Jeanine (Hodges), CSC, enjoyed a strong collaboration with the pastor.
Inspired by her desire to help those who were underserved, Sister Maureen did an internship at the Readiness Center in Benton Harbor, Michigan, to “assess areas where her talents would best be utilized.” The Benton Harbor program assisted low-income families by offering tutoring to students from first to sixth grades, after school and evenings, while the parents had adult education and skills-training programs to help them secure employment. While interning at Benton Harbor, Sister Maureen applied and received a grant from the Sisters of the Holy Cross to support this program, which also provided minimal stipends to volunteer teachers.
The internship at Benton Harbor helped Sister Maureen identify the knowledge, skills and character traits that would be her strength as she became more involved in working among the poor and marginalized. In 1998, Sister Maureen was missioned to Casa de la Luz in Raymondville, Texas, where everything came together for her. She was able to provide a full range of services after hearing from the people themselves. Sister Maureen was so enterprising that she contacted Sister M. Sebastian (Adza), CSC, to help her procure grants. Soon Sister Maureen rented a small building and opened a store for people to purchase items for personal care, clothing and food. She purchased a used mobile home and converted it into a clothing store in the front and a computer center in the back. Her energy had no bounds, extending to women in the colonias, or poorest neighborhoods. Business classes and some acquired knowledge of law made her an effective advocate for women and their rights. She was tireless in her efforts to empower the residents of Raymondville and the surrounding towns. In 2004, Sister Maureen left, feeling confident that the community had assumed their own leadership.
After a period of volunteer ministry, Sister Maureen transitioned to Saint Catherine by the Sea Convent, Ventura, California, in 2006 to be closer to her retired sister, Geraldine, in the Los Angeles area. While residing at Saint Catherine’s, Sister Maureen was a caregiver for a woman in nearby Simi Valley who needed a high level of care. Sister had previously cared for her mother in her illness, so she was able to care for others with understanding and compassion.
While at Saint Catherine’s, Sister Maureen enjoyed gardening in the California sun. Outside her bedroom were three magnolia trees, one of which appeared not to thrive. She was determined to make that one tree stay alive. After her departure, all the magnolia trees later bore beautiful white flowers in spring.
In 2015, Sister retired to Saint Mary’s Convent, where she died on the morning of December 9, 2022, just five days before her 87th birthday. Her 64 years as a vowed woman religious came to full bloom, in God’s time, Friday of the second week of Advent. May the “Mighty Tree of Holy Cross” flourish for years to come because of God’s providence and the good works of women such as Sister Maureen Cahill.
We invite you to donate to the Ministry With the Poor Fund in Sister’s name.
—Written by Sister M. Timothea (Kingston), CSC