Sister Mary Adrian Dimmerling

We commend to your charity the soul of our beloved
Sister Mary Adrian Dimmerling
who departed this life on June 2, 2012
in the seventy-ninth year of her religious life.

Age: 96 years, 4 months, 1 day

The funeral arrangements are as follows: Viewing in the Community Room at Providence Heights (Allison Park, Pa.) on Thursday, June 7 from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. and on Friday, June 8 from noon-3:30 p.m. Wake Service in the Community Room on Thursday, June 7 at 7 p.m. Mass of Resurrection on Friday, June 8 at 4 p.m. in the Mother of Divine Providence Chapel at Providence Heights.

Helen Beatrice Dimmerling was the second oldest of eight children. She was born in North Braddock, Pa., a town she dearly loved. Her parents hailed from Fulda, Ohio, but her family roots were in Fulda, Germany. Adrian was educated by our Community and, from an early age, loved learning and was determined to become a teacher. When asked many years later to share her experience of call to religious life, she related that her desire to become a Sister of Divine Providence was not from deep spiritual motives, but simply to become a teacher. She entered the Community, she said, because religious women had the best opportunity to become teachers, a vocation that was not easily accessible to women in general. It was Adrian’s deep love for learning that later drew her to an intense study of our charism and the history of the Community.

Adrian spent many years teaching in community elementary and secondary schools. In addition she was a faculty member of La Roche College. Her initial education was in math and science, but she also taught music. Adrian’s ministry as novice director was, perhaps, the most painful period of her life. She was caught between the movements leading to Vatican II, her own education on current trends in religious life, the growing excitement about the reform of the liturgy, the influence of the women’s movement on those entering the Community on one side, and the very strong conservatism of the Community on the other. She struggled to move forward with new ideas in the formation of the novices only to be restrained frequently by the leadership at that time.

However, it was during this period that Adrian’s real and fundamental call to religious life came to the fore. In 1957, at the request of the current Provincial Superior, Sr. Mary Kenneth Kearns, Adrian began to research the concept of Providence, to collect articles from spiritual writers of that era as well as original writings from our Sisters on Providence. Her task was to bring the articles together into a single volume. The book, Divine Providence, was published in 1959. It was the first book on this topic in the U. S. Provinces. The immersion into the study of God as Providence was a turning point in Adrian’s life. It became the anchor of her spirituality, grounding her in the charism of the Community. Mother Marie’s words, “Visibly do I see in all things the wonderful Providence of God” were a validation of a belief that Adrian cherished, that God’s Provident love is everywhere, in the books she loved to read, the beauty of nature which she so enjoyed, and even in the struggles she endured as novice director. As chairwoman of the newly formed Charism Committee of St. Peter Province, she worked with the committees of the St. Louis and Our Lady Provinces to initiate the study of our charism in response to the Vatican document, Perfectae Caritatis, calling religious communities to return to their roots and to study their founding spirit. Several pamphlets on the life of Mother Marie and Bishop Ketteler were published under her aegis.

After many years as teacher, principal, and novice director, Adrian attended Catholic University and obtained a Master’s Degree in Church Administration and Canon Law. She served ten years in the Tribunals of Pittsburgh and Wheeling, West Virginia. At age 80, Adrian accepted the call to minister as the General Econome of the Congregation in Rome, Italy, in 1995. During the ten years of service in this community ministry, another dimension of Adrian’s personality came to the fore; she became interested in water color painting and in Tai Chi. In 2006, Adrian fell victim to three strokes which impaired her memory and her eyesight, but not her intellect nor her spirit. She accepted her situation with the same peace that marked her life. Adrian lived out her remaining days among the Sisters in Kingston, Mass., enjoying their friendship and reveling with her artist’s heart and Providence eyes in the beauty of nature, especially in the magnificence of the ocean.

Written by Sister Myra Rodgers


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