Mary Burmeister

Mary BurmeisterGod gave Alfred and Margaret Burmeister the best Christmas present ever when Mary was born on December 25, 1942. But the impact of the School Sisters of St. Francis on Mary’s life began three years before she was born, in 1939, when Mary’s grandfather was cared for by our sisters at Sacred Heart.

The comfort, care, and prayers he received from the School Sisters left a lasting impression on Mary. That piece of family history nourished a desire in Mary to help others and to contribute her talents and skills in any way she could.

Mary accomplished this during her 23 years working with the Cook County, Illinois Public Defenders Office. It was there that Mary met Sister Cathy Ryan, who describes Mary as a person who has deep respect for the dignity of persons and a sense of justice – virtues that impacted her life.

From 1965 to 1969, Mary was a school clerk with the Chicago School Public School System. Prior to that she worked part time for 13 years with the Chicago Park District. It was the summer of 1961 at Sherman Park that she really got to know our sisters, and these meetings were the beginning of Mary’s (unofficial) associate relationship.

During her last year of preparation for formal Associate Relationship, Mary learned about the ministries and the mission of the School Sisters since 1874. Sister Ellen Mary Schwaiger was most inviting and helpful, as was Sister Therese Thoenen, who was one of the provincials at that time.

Participation in Jubilee celebrations, Illinois Days, retreats, fall festivals and pancake breakfasts, and picnics at Campbellsport all became an integral part of her involvement with the community. Currently living in the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park, Mary continues volunteer involvement at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish as Eucharistic minister and greeter. She also assists in parish fundraisers and sharing parish events. Mary also has a second home: her car. If anyone needs a ride, Mary can always be counted on to help out without hesitation.

Other activities that round out Mary’s life include bowling, golfing, walking, praying, and travelling, as well as watching or attending Brewers and Packers games. She remembers her happiest time in ministry attending days of reflection with Sister Ellen Mary on her retreat at Benedictine Abbey, and said that attending liturgies at St. Joseph Chapel is her most life-giving experience.

Mary’s friends know she has a talent for twisting the truth when it suits her generous spirit. Each time we have lunch at a restaurant, she manages to convince us we paid the bill last time, “so it is now my time to treat.” We are truly grateful and blessed to have Mary as a friend. Congratulations on your 25 years as an associate, Mary! You are a very special person.