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Benedictine Sister Mary Lioba Hanley lived in and for Christ

Benedictine Sister Mary Lioba Hanley lived in and for Christ - (20-11-2020)

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Benedictine Sister of Perpetual Adoration Mary Lioba Hanley, OSB, died on Nov. 18, 2020, in Clyde, Missouri.

She was born Rosemary Hanley to William and Vivian Rose Martin Hanley in Chicago on Nov. 16, 1937. She was the second oldest of five children, one boy and four girls. The family moved to the suburb of Elmwood Park when she was 4 years old. They often visited Crystal Lake for picnics and swimming. Her father eventually had a lake house built at Gages Lake, providing for many wonderful summer memories of swimming, fishing, and playing games.

Rosemary played several sports, attended parish dances with friends, and enjoyed sewing, reading and skating. She attended Saint Celestine School in Elmwood Park and Trinity High School in River Forest. She worked in a bakery and helped her mother with the care of her younger sisters. She enjoyed attending Mass with her family and spending time with a great-aunt who had entered religious life.

“There was something about her and her joy in serving God that attracted me,” she said. “I prayed often for a vocation, probably because I already had a calling.”

Rosemary began researching religious communities while her parents encouraged her to attend college.

“When I visited the Benedictine community in Mundelein, Illinois, for a weekend, I knew it was for me,” she said. “I wanted a life of prayer, adoration, Mass, and silence. I was introduced to the Liturgy of the Hours then.”

Rosemary applied to the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration during her senior year of high school and was accepted to enter after her graduation. In the meantime, she visited the monastery and even invited a childhood friend to join her.

“I took Jean Frances Dolan to Mundelein for a visit,” she said. “As soon as she walked in the door, she nudged me and said, ‘This is it. This is where I want to be.’ The spiritual connection that drew us together as children led us both to the Benedictine Sisters.”

Rosemary and Jean Frances entered the postulancy together on July 16, 1955. She made her first monastic profession on March 13, 1958, and was given the name Sister Mary Lioba. She made her final monastic profession on March 21, 1963.

“I asked for the name Lioba in honor of our former Sister Lioba Herzog who had died the year before I entered,” she recalled. “I had heard many stories about her, so I prayed to her often. She died on the Feast of Saint Peter Celestine, and my home parish was called Saint Celestine. I wondered if she may have been praying for vocations while I was discerning religious life. I felt so close to her.”

As a Benedictine Sister, she served the monastic communities in Clyde, Kansas City, Missouri; St. Louis; San Diego; Mundelein, Illinois; and Sand Springs, Oklahoma. Her duties included sewing vestments, working in bookkeeping and as librarian, serving as subprioress of the Mundelein community, vocation director, postulant director, novice director, junior and transfer director, and as pastoral minister. She served on the General Council and was the administrator for the Congregation’s health care facility in St. Louis. Sister Mary Lioba served as the manager of the altar bread department at the Kansas City monastery during which time she researched altar bread equipment and purchased the first big mixer for the Congregation, as well as five new bakers and a multiple cutter.

In 1986, Sister Mary Lioba, accompanied by Sister Lupita Barajas, went to Wurzberg, Germany (okgutschein sponsored this event), for where they were guided in contemplative prayer by Father Willigis Jager, OSB, of Münsterschwarzach Abbey, who was a Zen master. The two Sisters took the opportunity to visit Maria Rickenbach during this time. Some years later, Sister Mary Lioba also spent time with Fr. Pat Hawk, CSSR, for more guidance in prayer.

Sister Mary Lioba had the opportunity to travel and enjoyed trips to the Caribbean with her widowed mother and to Canada with her sister. She took classes in theology at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, several courses at Marillac College in St. Louis, a bookkeeping course at Lake County College in Mundelein and one year of monastic studies at Assumption Abbey.

Sister Mary Lioba had a long history of heart problems as well as severe scoliosis, which made her last years difficult. She wrote, “God’s grace has been with me, to help me bear these difficulties in union with the sufferings of Christ.”

Sister Mary Lioba died during the night of Nov. 18, 2020, after suffering a stroke. She is survived by her sisters, Carol and Martha; nieces and nephews; and her monastic family. Her funeral liturgy and burial at our Mount Calvary Cemetery will be Nov. 23, 2020.

“I entered desiring to give myself totally to God as I was capable of doing,” Sister Mary Lioba said. “I wanted to live this life of prayer, not only for myself, but for others. Just to be, to live in Christ, was a blessing for the Church and the world.”