Born to Life
October 13, 1937
June 13, 1955
Born to Eternal Life
August 18, 2020
Mt. Olivet Cemetery
Sister Maryellen was born in Chicago to Marie and Eugene Schmitz on October 13, 1937. She was the oldest of four children. Her deceased brother Eugene was a priest in the Society of the Divine Word and served as a missionary in Indonesia for 30 years. Nicholas died at age 18 of pneumonia, and Girard is still living in Chicago.
Maryellen's uncle tried to persuade her to join an order in Indiana, but she declined. Still on a quest to become a sister, she finally decided to check out the School Sisters of St. Francis after reading one of their brochures. Her mother readily consented to taking her to St. Joseph Convent in Milwaukee. It was then she made the decision to enter the School Sisters of St. Francis.
In 1953, at age 16, she entered the postulancy with 89 other young women aspiring to be sisters. She enrolled in St. Joseph High School as a senior. At that time, she had thought of becoming a kindergarten teacher, but she scored high in nursing in an aptitude test. Consequently, after she was received into the Order in 1955 and given the name Sister Eugenelle, she began working at Sacred Heart Sanitarium as a nurse's aide. She then attended the Sacred Heart School of Practical Nursing and received her license to practice nursing. She continued working at Sacred Heart Sanitarium on the third and fourth floors, caring for many sisters of her community.
After eight years, she was transferred to Villa Clement for nine years. When sisters were permitted to choose their own place of ministry, she applied to St. Francis Hospital, run by the Felician Sisters. She was hired to minister to surgical and medical patients and remained there for 10 years.
Sister Maryellen then chose to work at Maryhill Retirement Center for the School Sisters of St. Francis. When Sacred Heart Center became the nursing facility for the sisters, Maryellen went there and worked for 25 years. She retired in July 2010, after 55 years of nursing.
Sister Maryellen said, “I feel that in my nursing career, I helped restore health to many people and often comforted the dying.” In her “spacer” time as a nurse, and for relaxation, she enjoyed her skill as a seamstress, making many of her own clothes. She said, “I wore my suits and dresses with great pride!” She also enjoyed knitting and crocheting, often giving her work away as gifts to family and friends.
After many years of nursing, may Sister Maryellen now enjoy eternal rest.
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