Sister Mary Thomas Jirauch

We commend to your charity the soul of our beloved

Sister Mary Thomas Jirauch

who departed this life on February 11, 2013

in the sixty-seventh year of her religious life

Age: 84 years, 4 months, 15 days

Resurrection Service: Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. at

St. Elizabeth Parish, Granite City, Ill.

"The spirit of the Institute is, above all, the spirit of Jesus Christ himself." [Constitutions Article 2]

Patricia Josephine came to the Sisters of Divine Providence from St. John the Baptist in St. Louis, Mo. Drawn by a deep desire to listen to God and to learn to love with a compassionate heart, she wanted to grow in her relationship with God and to serve God's people in love. She said she was attracted to the community by "observing relationships among the Sisters."

Named Sister Mary Thomas, she deepened her relationship with God as she sought to learn new ways to pray, to live in community, and to serve those in need, with generosity, good humor, and "in the spirit of Jesus." Sister Mary Thomas taught first in Venice, Ill., and next in Tipton, Mo. After completing a bachelor of science in nursing and a master's in health administration, she spent 42 years serving St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Granite City, Ill., an institution in which our Sisters ministered even before becoming a separate province in 1932. Sister Mary Thomas served for 24 years as hospital administrator, continuing to educate herself, strengthening the hospital in medical excellence, and opening the first free clinic to assure that the health needs of the poor were met. As a well-loved leader and a strong compassionate presence, after leaving her administrative position, Sister Mary Thomas continued to offer guidance as chair of the hospital's board of directors for another 18 years.

Sister Mary Thomas lived a life of prayer and reflection in the midst of her responsibilities. She sought to balance her busyness with a call to deeper quiet. Her many interests were influenced by her life of prayer, dedication to Mary, and openness to God's call of love and service. She appreciated the beauties of art, read widely, delighted in the humor of situations, and relished the power and depth of classical music. Drawing upon her inner life, she captured the beauty of our world in photographs, which she offered freely to others for their pleasure and prayer.

As Sister Mary Thomas aged and became infirm, she found some of the solitude she had sought and, from that contemplative space, she opened herself to those who came to share stories, seek clarity, rest in her attentive presence, and be touched by God's care. Two years ago, Sister Mary Thomas wrote, "Weariness, weakness, and being dependent on others leads me to an attitude of surrender. Surrender leads . . . to emptiness . . . a space for God to fill with His Spirit. As a reminder of this call, I have a few clay dishes, holding nothing, here and there in my room." On this day, dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, she has been given full healing and has gone home to the God of Providence. She is alive in Jesus, who taught her to live and love! As we celebrate her life and remember her gifts, may we be blessed to grow as she did into the contemplative and compassionate ". . . spirit of Jesus Christ himself."

Birthday: September 26

Written by Sister Mary Francis Fletcher

The Granite City Press Record featured a beautiful memorial article about Sister Mary Thomas on February 20.

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