Tuesday, August 31, 2021
Mass of the Resurrection: 10:30 a.m.
Church of Our Lady of Loretto
Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, IndianaSister Louisita's funeral was livestreamed. View the recorded service.
Sister M. Louisita, CSC
(Mary Louise Welsh)
July 10, 1932–August 19, 2021
We share news of the death of Sister M. Louisita (Welsh), CSC, who died at 12:45 p.m. on August 19, 2021, at Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana. Sister Louisita entered the Congregation from Winchester, Illinois, 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.
Had Sister Louisita been in better health the last several years, she would have been socializing with faculty and students returning to the Saint Mary’s College campus, Notre Dame, Indiana, to begin a new academic year. Fondly remembered as “Sister Lou,” she was a vivacious presence who had inspired young women throughout her 63 years of vowed life in community as a Sister of the Holy Cross.
Mary Louise Welsh was born July 10, 1932, in Winchester in central Illinois, where she grew up on the farm of her parents, William P. Welsh and M. Edith (Dunnagan) Welsh. Mary Louise was the youngest girl, Rita and Doris being her older sisters. The parents spent their lives farming and sacrificed much for them during the years of the Great Depression. Rural Scott County consists of green, fertile fields with the small town of Winchester in the middle. Ninety-eight percent of the residents are of European descent. Three generations ago, Welsh forebears came from England and Ireland to farm. Her rural upbringing explains how Mary Louise became an avid horseback rider in her youth with a lifelong inclination for nature and the outdoors. Exploring new places was always exciting for her.
Mary Louise became Sister M. Louisita, receiving the holy habit of a Sister of the Holy Cross and a new name on August 15, 1956, three years after completing studies at Holy Cross Central School of Nursing, South Bend, Indiana. The sisters, she said, “probably recognized my vocation even before I did.” Sister Louisita later earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Saint Mary’s College in 1958. Sister’s Master of Science in nursing was from The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, in 1972.
Sister Louisita was involved in many different facets of ministry throughout her community life, especially health care, beginning in 1958. Three different times she was on the faculty of Mount Carmel School of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio, as a nurse instructor and, years later, as a campus minister for the student nurses. Mount Carmel was her first and favorite mission. Sister served as well on Mount Carmel’s board of trustees from 1977 to 1983. She also worked in medical-surgical nursing at Holy Cross Hospital, Silver Spring, Maryland, and later was the director of staff development at St. John’s Hospital, Anderson, Indiana.
Her vibrant personality was helpful in her vocation ministry for the Sisters of the Holy Cross. Lou was no longer a farm girl, saddled on a horse. The automobile was her preferred means of exploration as Louisita often traveled alone, driving from convent to convent across the United States. Eventually, Sister’s focus turned to pastoral care, beginning at St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, Boise, Idaho, where she was the vice president for mission services, 1983-1985. After that, Sister Louisita coordinated pastoral services for senior citizens in 22 long-term care facilities for Catholic Community Services in Tucson, Arizona (1986-1988), and administrated Madonna Manor in Salinas, California, with other Holy Cross sisters (1989-1991).
Sister Louisita then settled back in Indiana. From 1991 to 1995, Sister ministered as an education specialist for St. Joseph’s Care Group in South Bend and provided staff development for Holy Cross Shared Services, 1995-1997, at Saint Mary’s. After a year’s sabbatical, Sister Louisita became the assistant to the vice president for mission at Saint Mary’s College, serving from 1998 to 2011. In 2003, she was awarded the Saint Mary’s Belles Varsity Appreciation Award for her three years as chaplain for the basketball and volleyball programs. The citation honored “a woman who has impacted many of our coaches and athletes with her enthusiasm, endless support, and kind heart … . Her voice resonates through the air as she shouts encouragement … . She always sets an example of class, dignity and spirit.”
In 2015, Sister Lou appeared on campus banners promoting the core values of Saint Mary’s College, founded by the Sisters of the Holy Cross. The banners portrayed her surrounded by Belles in a group hug. Her smile was radiant and welcoming. What better way to express Community as a core value of the college and the Congregation than to see this image. In May 2019, Sister Lou was inducted into the Saint Mary’s College Athletic Hall of Fame, the first team chaplain to receive the honor. At 89 years old, Sister Louisita died midday when the sun was at its zenith. She now joins the Communion of the Saints, and cheers on all friends of God who hope for life eternal.
We invite you to donate to the Ministry With the Poor Fund in Sister’s name.—Written by Sister Catherine Osimo, CSC