Sr. Mary's Story
Sr. Mary Catherine Eschenbach, 93, of the Srs. of St. Francis in 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.
Attending St. Catherine's and St. Mary's Academy in 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 the expecting the families' seventh child. Sr. 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."
Sr. Mary Catherine entered the convent Sept. 8, 1939, and made her final vows Aug. 12, 1945. She was a teacher, principal, and a missionary in Papua New Guinea. Schools where she served included St. Louis in Batesville, St. Frances de Sales and St. Michael's in Indianapolis, St. Lawrence in St. Lawrenceburg, Indiana, St. Vincent de Paul in Bedford, Indiana, St. Ann's in Hamilton, Ohio, St. Anthony's in Streator, Illinois, Immaculate Conception in Old Monroe, Missouri, as well as 15 years in Papua New Guinea, before retiring to the Motherhouse in 1998.
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."
Sr. Mary Catherine is survived by her sisters, Angela Kriese and Leanore Cox, both of Indianapolis, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her sisters, Mildred Rambow, Florence Eschenbach, Carlann Richardson and brother, Carl Eschenbach Jr.
Visitation is from 1 to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 15 at the convent chapel. Funeral services follow at 3 p.m. with Reb. Bob Weakley officiating. Burial will be in the convent cemetery.
Memorials may be made to the Srs. of St. Francis, P.O. Box 100, Oldenburg, IN, 47036 (www.OldenburgFranciscans.org).
Published on February 13, 2017