Mary's Story

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Sister Mary Catherine Eschenbach, 93, of the Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg, died Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017, at the convent.
Born Feb. 15, 1923, in Indianapolis, she was the daughter of Cecilia (Johantgen) and Carl Eschenbach Sr.
Sister Mary Catherine entered the convent Sept. 8, 1939, and made her final vows Aug. 12, 1945. She was a teacher, principal and missionary in Papua New Guinea. Schools where she worked included St. Louis, Batesville; St. Francis de Sales and St. Michael's, Indianapolis; St. Lawrence, Lawrenceburg; St. Vincent de Paul, Bedford; St. Ann's, Hamilton, Ohio; St. Anthony's, Streator, Illinois; Immaculate Conception, Old Monroe, Missouri; as well as 15 years in Papua New Guinea before retiring to the Motherhouse in 1998.
Attending St. Catherine's and St. Mary's Academy, Indianapolis, she was taught by the Sisters of Oldenburg. One of the Sisters she met was instrumental in her choice to enter religious life. After her sophomore year, she entered the novitiate program at Oldenburg. In her first year as a novice, her father died and her mother was expecting the family's seventh child. Sister Mary Catherine offered to abandon her religious calling and return home to help with the family. Her mother said, "Stay and pray, we'll make it."
A dedicated teacher, she taught for 20 years, teaching almost every grade, and then spent 20 years as a principal. In 1960 the first group of Sisters left for Papua New Guinea. While she, too, wanted to minister in this foreign land, she stayed stateside for her aging mother. After many years, she still felt the desire to go, so she asked her mother's permission. Mom's answer was, "Go, I'll visit you." And she did at age 86!
In her words, "I was a pilgrim in a foreign land, teaching at the Franciscan Sisters of Mary, the Teacher's College, two seminaries and with the Capuchin Brothers. I've gone where there was a need. All my life has been a challenge and I've enjoyed the challenges. I've been happy and enjoyed the journey as I walked trustfully with the Lord."
Sister Mary Catherine is survived by her sisters Angela Kriese and Leanore Cox, Indianapolis; as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
In addition to her parents, she was also preceded in death by sisters Mildred Rambow, Florence Eschenbach and Carlann Richardson; and brother Carl Eschenbach Jr.
Visitation is Wednesday, Feb. 15, from 1-3 p.m. at the convent chapel. Funeral services follow at 3 p.m. with the Rev. Bob Weakley officiating. Burial will be in the convent cemetery. Memorials may be made to the Sisters of St. Francis, P.O. Box 100, Oldenburg, IN 47036 (www.OldenburgFranciscans.org). Weigel Funeral Home is handling arrangements.
Published on February 13, 2017
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