Remembrance of the Life of Sister Charles Maureen Walker SL
Sister Charles Maureen Walker
October 11, 1919 – March 14, 2014
Sister Charles Maureen Walker’s life closely follows the lives of early Loretto school-women from the Kentucky Holy Land. Baptized Mary Virginia at St. Charles Church, near Little Loretto, she grew up in the town of Loretto, the oldest child of her mother, Sadie–Mary Sarah O’Daniel, who married Charles Thomas Walker and raised his two daughters and the seven children they had together. Charles was the barber in Loretto for 39 years and their children attended Loretto Public School with the Sisters of Loretto. Mary Virginia began high school with the Ursuline Sisters at St. Francis in Chicago, Kentucky (just west of Loretto on the railroad line). She completed her final two years at historic Bethlehem Academy, St. John, Kentucky, earning her diploma in 1937.
In a very brief autobiographical statement in 1976 Charles Maureen wrote: “The two final years of High School at Bethlehem Academy were probably the most important, as far as my vocation is concerned. Certainly, the Sisters who were there at the time, by their lives and by my love for them, especially Sister Dionycia, (later known as Sister Leone Rock), were influential in my decision to enter the Sisters of Loretto.”
Virginia entered Loretto from St. Francis Parish in 1938, receiving the habit and the name Sister Charles Maureen on April 25, 1939. She made first vows in 1941 and was sent to St. Cronan’s Parish School in St. Louis. There she served five years, while pursuing her undergraduate degree at Webster College in the time-honored pattern of Saturday and summer studies. She completed her bachelor’s degree in 1951 with a major in French, and for three summers she joined the summer faculty at Webster College, teaching French to many other diocesan teachers on the “long-term plan”.
But Charles Maureen’s stated preference and deep delight was working with elementary students. She was a classroom teacher and principal for forty-six years.
From St. Cronin’s, Charles Maureen was sent to St. Francis Parish School in Toronto, Ohio. There in 1949 she and her companions brought to a close Loretto’s fifty years of service to that early Ohio parish. The Ursuline Sisters took their place and Charles Maureen moved to St. Mary’s and then St. Peter’s in Rockford, Illinois, two schools which Loretto had staffed since the early part of the century. In 1957, Charles Maureen returned to St. Louis, serving three years at Sacred Heart Parish, where Loretto Sisters had taught since 1871. She was both teacher and Superior, and likewise at St. Catherine of Sienna Parish School in Pagedale, Missouri, where she served for six years.
In 1966 Charles Maureen came home to Marion County, Kentucky, to serve for eleven years as Principal at St. Augustine Grade School in Lebanon, joining a long line of Loretto school-women whose teaching for the parish had begun in 1833. She moved in 1977 to another historic Loretto location, St. Vincent’s in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. There Charles Maureen, Mary Joyce Reasoner and Jeannette Marie Donnelly were the last Loretto teachers for the parish where Loretto Sisters had served since 1841.
Ascension School in Chesterfield, Missouri drew both Charles Maureen and her friend Mary Joyce in 1978, where with the Wiseman sisters they taught until 1984. Charles Maureen and Joyce went from there to St. Ferdinand Parish School, Florissant, Missouri, a location famous for Loretto teaching since 1847. These were Charles Maureen’s final two years in the classroom; in 1987 she brought to a close 46 years of service as a Loretto school-woman.
Immediately Charles Maureen found new ways to serve for another fifteen years. She was for a brief time office secretary for St. Patrick Apartments, a retirement community in Florissant. Then she assumed the role of Coordinator of Spiritual and Personal Growth for the retired sisters at the Loretto Retirement Center on Lafayette in St. Louis. There and later at Loretto Center in Webster Groves, Charles Maureen served the sick and elderly until 2003 when she herself retired. She lived at the St. Louis Loretto Center until 2010, when she moved to Loretto Motherhouse Infirmary.
Like the Sisters whom she followed to so many historic Loretto missions, Charles Maureen loved teaching; as for other things, like being a principal, she said, “what God gave me to do, somehow, it did get accomplished.”
Sister Charles Maureen died very peacefully at Loretto Motherhouse Infirmary, on March 14, 2014, in the loving presence of her sisters Nell and Susan and her good friend Sister Mary Joyce Reasoner. Some months before she died, she told a younger sister that she loved to walk in the Motherhouse cemetery,
“It is so peaceful in the company of all those who I know are waiting for me.”