Sister Irma Mae Boonie

We commend to your charity the soul of our beloved 

Sister Irma Mae Boonie

who departed this life on April 11, 2013

in the seventy-seventh year of her religious life

Age: 95 years, 11 months, 6 days

Resurrection Service: 

Monday, April 15, 2013 at 4 p.m.

“For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God. God does not ration his gift of the Spirit.” (from the Gospel for April 11, 2013.)

Sister Irma Mae Boonie, who had been experiencing failing health for the past several years, died quietly and peacefully in Saint Joseph Center at Providence Heights early Thursday morning, April 11. She died during the rich season in which the Church celebrates the Paschal Mystery. She left behind the life she so loved, and through her death, entered into an eternal season of new life.

Sister Irma Mae, formerly known in Community as Sister Teresine, was born on May 5, 1917, in Jamisonville (now Cherrytown), Pa., to Mary Nehiz and Louis Boonie. She was the fifth of six children born to her parents, who were both immigrants from Hungary. Sister Irma Mae entered the Community on September 7, 1936.

Sister Irma Mae was educated to be a teacher. She eventually earned a Bachelor in Education degree from Duquesne University in 1952 and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Detroit in 1970. Her career in education began in 1939 and continued through 1986. She was an educator in dioceses in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan. In these 47 years, she was an upper elementary and secondary school teacher for 38 years and principal for nine years. She was a devoted educator, kept current, participated in NCEA, and was well liked by students, parents, teachers, and staff. As much as she enjoyed the field of education, she knew when it was time to transition into another ministry. In 1986, she embraced pastoral ministry in a volunteer capacity. She started at Assumption Parish in Bellevue, and in 1988, she moved to pastoral ministry in the hospital setting, first at Divine Providence and then at Mercy Providence. While at Divine Providence Hospital, she nuanced her hospital ministry to the emergency room at the invitation of the staff of the emergency room. She made follow-up calls to emergency room patients upon their return home. In 1990, she was honored during National Volunteer Week for making 10,000 calls. As a hospital volunteer, she joined the hospital auxiliary because, in her words, “They measure their worth by how much they do in the hospital, rather than by what they earn.” She was a true Woman of Providence, responding to the unmet needs she perceived in her time of external ministry. She finally retired in 1999, and then was fully engaged in a ministry of prayer and communication through letter writing and phone calls.

Many Sisters remember Sister Irma Mae as a spiritual seeker. She encouraged her own spiritual growth through her early involvement in the House of Prayer movement and the Community’s spiritual renewal programs, Emmaus and Realm. She sought spiritual direction when it became available to Community members and was an early participant in directed retreats. These latter practices continued as long as she could participate in them. No matter her ministry, Sister Irma Mae made time for a relationship with her God of Providence. She enjoyed wearing pearls and wore them as a symbol of her relationship with God. She imagined herself as God’s pearl for God’s people. And perhaps she knew God refined His beautiful pearl through her experience of aging, sickness, and diminishment.

And so now, our Sister Irma Mae enjoys the fullness of the relationship with her Provident God that she nurtured so well in all the years of her physical life. In her new life, God will not ration the Spirit as Sister Irma Mae intercedes for the Community and nudges us to continue to meet the current needs of our time.

Feast day: May 5

written by Sister Maria Fest

If you would like to make a gift to the Sisters of Divine Providence in memory of Sister Irma Mae, visit our donation page.